Czech the News, May 2001

Message from the Ambassador

Czech Trade Opens in Miami

Visegrad Group Gathering in Washington

Czech Journalists Awarded the SAIS Novartis Prize

Resolution on Human Rights in Cuba Approved in Geneva

New Finance Minister

T.G.Masaryk Memorial Closer to Reality

Madeleine K. Albright Joins the William Davidson Institute

News Digest

US-Czech Trade Soars

Seminar on the Implications of EU Enlargement

Business Digest

Profile : Judy Baar Topinka

The XX American Sokol Slet in Detroit, MI

Dreams and Disillusions

Teige Exhibition Opening Attracts Many Visitors

Artist of the Month : Vratislav Brabenec

Petr Nikl Comes to the Czech Embassy

Embassy Events

Events around the USA

Czech Center New York



Message from the Ambassador

When my friends ask me why I have recently missed some receptions, I usually respond that I have been busy. However, the truth is simple - the Stanley Cup playoffs. As the most popular sport in my country, hockey is special for Czechs. In the past, fights between the Czechoslovak and Soviet teams offered rare opportunities for Czechs to express what they were really thinking about their opponents. In 1969, one fight even led to a large demonstration in Prague. But those days are over. Now, many Czechs and Russians play together in the NHL.

And yet, our pursuit of recognition continues. I remember how Americans doubted the qualities of Czech stars like Jagr, Ruzicka or Reichel when they first came to play for the NHL. Supposedly, they were not harsh enough; they were too nice. But the past decade has proven those critics wrong. Both goalie Dominik Hasek and forward Jaromir Jagr were elected to the NHL First All-Star Team five times, while Sykora, Holik and Elias are the best forwards that the Devils have. In 2001, more than 80 Czechs played in the NHL.

Perhaps the final quest for recognition can be seen in Pittsburgh: Ivan Hlinka is the first foreigner to ever coach in the NHL. Although he led the Czech team to a gold medal in Nagano, the media still considers him an underdog. Allegedly, he is too cool to be successful, or he has conflicts with his Czech players, or, and this is the greatest sin of all, he is seen smoking a cigarette right before the game. But Hlinka is in an uneasy position: he coaches Mario, the team's owner and a Hall of Famer. And so, he has found himself in a situation that forces him to give orders to the very icon who pays his salary. Hlinka's position is a true test by fire, a realization of Czech maturity.

Czech Trade Opens in Miami

The new Czech Trade office in Miami, Florida officially opened on Thursday, April 26. The Miami office is the second Czech Trade location to open in the United States, following a location in Chicago. Managed by Mr. Roman Matyas, the office will represent Czech exporters seeking business opportunities in Florida. With the establishment of the representative office in Miami, the Czech Republic has become the first Central European country to promote bilateral business ties in Florida.

The opening ceremony was attended by Czech Ambassador to the United States Mr. Alexandr Vondra, Czech Trade Director Mr. Martin Tlapa, Czech Honorary Consul in Florida Mr. Alan Becker, and others. The event included a VIP luncheon and a seminar entitled "Doing Business with the Czech Republic."

The Czech Trade Promotion Agency was established in 1997 as a governmental agency of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The agency´s main objective is to assist Czech companies in their exports and expand their activities overseas. Last year, Czech Trade decided to open two offices in the United States to facilitate business cooperation in North America. The Miami office is the latest addition to the Czech Trade worldwide network.


Visegrad Group Gathering in Washington

Mr. Pavel Telicka, the First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, State Secretary for European Affairs, and Chief Negotiator of the Czech Republic for the EU accession visited Washington, D.C. on April 3 -4, 2001.

Mr. Telicka joined Deputy Foreign Ministers Ivan Baba of Hungary, Andrzej Ananicz of Poland, and Jan Figel of Slovakia at the "Visegrad Conference," organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The Visegrad Group was established in 1991 and is comprised of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The Group aims to promote democratic rule and free market economies in Central Europe. Held for the first time in the United States, the meeting marked the 10th anniversary of the four countries' regional cooperation. The conference focused on the progress of the Visegrad countries in their effort to join the European Union; the experiences of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic during their accession to NATO; and the perspectives of Central European stability and Trans-Atlantic cooperation.

A policy forum entitled "Visegrad Contribution to Trans-Atlantic Cooperation" was organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, CSIS counselor and former national security adviser opened the forum for panelists to discuss current issues in their countries and the challenges that lie ahead for Central Europe.

Mr. Telicka also met with Deputy Secretary of State Mr. Richard Armitage, the Deputy National Security Advisor Mr. Steven Hadley, and other U.S. officials during his visit.


Czech Journalists Awarded the SAIS Novartis Prize

Czech journalists Petra Prochazkova and Jaromir Stetina were awarded the SAIS Novartis Prize for Excellence in International Journalism for their Czech TV documentary, "Dark Side of the World." The documentary, which was filmed during the battle for Grozny and the Russian occupation of Samashki, provides a graphic look into the Chechen conflict while focusing on the lives of soldiers and ordinary citizens of Chechnya.

Jaromir Stetina accepted the prize during the Awards Dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on April 19. Also present at the ceremony was Tomas Pojar, Executive Director of the Czech TV Foundation People in Need.

The SAIS Novartis awards are presented annually to journalists whose work brings a topic of international importance to the public=s attention during each calendar year. The competition is administered by the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University.


Resolution on Human Rights in Cuba Approved in Geneva

On Wednesday, April 18, 2001 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights approved a resolution proposed by the Czech Republic concerning the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.

The text of the resolution calls on Cuba to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, to guarantee the rule of law "through democratic institutions and the independence of the judicial system," and to "open a dialogue with the political opposition." The resolution also expresses concern toward "the continued violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba, such as freedom of expression, association, and assembly."

Out of the 53 member states of the Human Rights Commission, 22 voted in favor of the resolution, 20 voted against, 10 countries abstained, and 1 country did not participate. The text of the resolution was supported by the European countries, the United States of America, and many Latin American countries. This year's vote is the third time in a row that a resolution was approved under the Czech Republic's sponsorship.

New Finance Minister

Czech Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik stepped down from his post on April 10. Although his resignation was rather unexpected, the Minister claimed that his decision came after much deliberation.

During a press conference, Mr. Mertlik cited his lack of ability to influence certain fundamental cabinet decisions as the main reason for his resignation. Mr. Mertlik assured the press that the pending privatization of Komercni Banka and telecom Ceske Radiokomunikace would be virtually complete within a short time.

Only three days later, President Havel appointed Mr. Jiri Rusnok to fill the seat. Mr. Rusnok previously served as a Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs (1998 -2001) and as an economic adviser to the Bohemian and Moravian Council of Trade Unions (1992 -1997). He is a graduate of the Prague School of Economics. According to analysts, the new Minister's first and most difficult task will be to answer growing concerns about the public finance deficit.

T. G. Masaryk Memorial Closer to Reality

On the evening of Monday, March 26, a historic gathering took place at the Czech Embassy in Washington, DC. Czech Ambassador to the United States Alexandr Vondra organized a special reception to announce an important project to the assembled: under the leadership of the "American Friends of The Czech Republic," plans are being made to erect a memorial in the form of a statue of T.G. Masaryk. The statue will be created in the Czech Republic by Czech sculptor Josef Vajce. The selected site for the memorial is located in a small park on Pennsylvania Avenue at 19th Street, NW in downtown Washington, DC. The park sits in front of the World Bank building, the former site of the hotel where T.G.Masaryk stayed in 1918 during his 6 month visit to the U.S. and worked on the draft of the Czechoslovak Declaration of Independence. The gathering was addressed by Ambassador Alexandr Vondra; Senator (and former Czech Ambassador to Washington), Chairman of the Committee for Foreign Policy, Defense and Security Mr. Michael Zantovsky; and Mr. Milton Cerny, President of the "American Friends of the Czech Republic." Mr. Cerny announced the introduction of two bipartisan Congress bills H.R.1161 and S.B.621, which will provide the necessary approval for use of Federal park land. Also in attendance were three other Czech Senators who are members of the committee chaired by Senator Zantovsky; H.E. Martin Butora, Slovak Ambassador to Washington and his wife Dr. Zora Bútorová; the Czech Consuls General in New York and Los Angeles; the Honorary Consuls General of the Czech Republic; and the Honorary Consuls of the Czech Republic. In addition to President Cerny, several Members of the newly expanded Board of Directors of the "AFoCR" also attended the reception. Many other guests from various interests joined the milestone reception.

American Friends of the Czech Republic

Washington, D.C.

The proposed site for the Masaryk statue is on government park land and therefore, congressional approval is necessary in order to erect the memorial. The American Friends of the Czech Republic obtained the support of Rep. Ben Gilman (R-NY), former chairman of the House International Relations Committee, who on March 22, 2001, introduced the bill H.R. 1161 that authorized the AFOCR to establish the memorial in the nation's capital. To exemplify the democratic ideal for which Masaryk stood, Gilman quoted Masaryk=s own words in his introduction:

"Not with violence but with love, not with sword but with plow, not with blood but with work, not with death but with life -that is the answer of Czech genius, the meaning of our history and the heritage of our ancestors."

On March 27, 2001, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT), Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) and Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) co-sponsored a similar legislation in S. 621, which will be considered by the appropriate Congressional committees: in the Senate, the Committee on Rules and Administration; in the House, the Committee on Resources and the Committee on Rules. Since the legislation's introduction by these key leaders, we have received indications of support from a number of House and Senate members. Our goal is to have the legislation voted on by the time Congress adjourns and to have the bill sent to President Bush for signature.

The House Committee on Resources scheduled the first hearing on HR 1191 for May 8, 2001 in the Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands. As the first hearing on the Masaryk Memorial Bill, the list of witnesses included Milton Cerny, President of the AFoCR, and Michael Novak, author and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. In order to achieve a successful result, it is imperative to have the public support of such initiatives. Individuals and groups can express their support to their respective Congressional delegations. Questions and requests for information may be directed to the AFoCR at, or at tel. 202-862-5075 or fax 202-429-3301. The project has received letters of support from former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, World Bank President James Wolfensohn, and Ambassador Martin Butora of the Slovak Republic, among others.

A special coordinating committee of Czech American groups is being formed under the leadership of the AFOCR. Requests for funds to purchase the statue (which is being created in the Czech Republic), its shipment, erection, and upkeep are being sent to individuals and groups that have an interest in perpetuating the work of Tomas G. Masaryk. In addition, an endowment is being established to preserve the Masaryk dream of educating students about democracy, the free enterprise system, and open societies. The coordinating committee is asking that everyone participate with whatever size contribution possible. A permanent honor book, to be kept at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington, DC, will serve as a repository of the names of contributors.

Contributed by

Peter A. Rafaeli, Honorary Consul General of the Czech Republic in Philadelphia and

Milton Cerny, President of the American Friends of the Czech Republic


Madeleine K. Albright Joins the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan Business School

Former Secretary of State to Lead Institute's Efforts on Convergence of Democratization, Human Rights and Economic Development in Emerging Markets

Ann Arbor, Michigan---B. Joseph White, Dean of the University of Michigan Business School and President of the William Davidson Institute, announced on April 3rd that former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright will join the Institute as its first Distinguished Scholar, effective September 1, 2001. The William Davidson Institute is an international, educational think-tank affiliated with the University of Michigan Business School that supports and promotes the development of new market economies through research, student education and business assistance. For nearly a decade, the Davidson Institute faculty and students have been working in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, China, Vietnam, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

"Economic development in emerging markets is heavily dependent on those countries' success in democratization and human rights---no issue could be more significant to their long-term development and to our own future," Albright said. "My association with the William Davidson Institute represents a remarkable convergence of my own interests in developing economically viable democracies based on the rule of law and human rights with the Institute's extensive knowledge and expertise assisting governments, policy makers and firms in developing economies as they transition to market-driven economies.

"We are honored to have former Secretary Albright join the William Davidson Institute," White said. "She is a scholar and policymaker of the first order. Her expertise in fostering democratization and institution building is the perfect complement to the Institute's expertise in economic and business elements of emerging market economies around the world. The two go hand in hand.

"Secretary Albright has experienced firsthand many of the economic challenges the William Davidson Institute works to resolve," said Lee C.Bollinger, President of the University of Michigan. "On behalf of the University of Michigan, I am proud to welcome Secretary Albright to our community. The William Davidson Institute and the important work done there is a point of pride for us all."

Albright earned her doctorate in Public Law and Government and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in international affairs, U.S. foreign policy, Russian foreign policy, and Central and Eastern European politics. As the Davidson Institute's Distinguished Scholar, she will chair an annual policy conference in Washington D.C. The conference will convene senior public and private policy makers and international academic experts to discuss vital emerging market issues, including the forces and effects of globalization. In addition, Albright will spend several weeks each year in Ann Arbor at the Davidson Institute headquarters, located at the University of Michigan Business School. There she will interact with students and scholars from the Davidson Institute, the Business School and the University of Michigan community as well as the Davidson Institute's global network of scholars, government officials and business and community leaders. "Together, we will strengthen the Institute's outreach to policymakers around the globe who are grappling with the vital political dimensions of business and economic development," Dean White added.

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News Digest

April 4 : Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Palous and President of the International Roma Union Emil Scuka signed a memorandum on cooperation and understanding between the Foreign Ministry and the Union. "The Union, which is the oldest international Roma organization, held its 5th World Congress in Prague last year and has considerably contributed to the advancement of the Roma political emancipation on the international level," Mr. Palous said after signing the document.

April 5 -6 : According to European Commission (EC) Chairman Romano Prodi, there is no reason why the Czech Republic should not be among the first group of countries to join the EU. During his two-day visit to the Czech Republic, Mr. Prodi, accompanied by Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen, assured Czech politicians that if they continued in their efforts to close the necessary chapters in accession talks, the country should join the EU in 2004. The Czech side, however, raised concerns about the EU proposals that stipulate a transition period preceding the free movement of labor for citizens from new member countries. According to Mr. Prodi, the Czech Republic must show more progress in industrial restructuring, reforming the state administration and judicial system, and fighting against corruption. On the other hand, he praised the country=s recent successes in attracting foreign investment. The EU delegation also visited the city of Decin in northern Bohemia to inspect a water-treatment plant that was constructed with the support of the EU's Phare program.

April 8 : The Czech Republic marked International Roma Day for the first time with a week-long series of events held throughout the country. Events in Prague included a street party featuring a Roma food-tasting, painting and gypsy music, as well as a charity soccer match with Roma, Albanian and African teams. The celebrations culminated with a Roma Ball at Smichov's Narodni dum, attended by over 500 people. Profits from the ball and charity collections organized in ten different cities will be donated to children's homes.

April 7 - 8 : Vladimir Spidla, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, was elected Chairman of the Social Democrats (CSSD) at the party Congress in Prague. He was supported by 483 of the 543 votes cast, totaling 87.5 percent of the vote. Spidla replaced Prime Minister Milos Zeman, who was not seeking re-election. Mr. Zeman remains Prime Minister, with parliamentary elections scheduled for next summer. In his farewell speech, Mr. Zeman said that he would not influence the new party leadership. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross was elected First Vice Chairman, while Executive Vice Chairman Karel Kobes was re-elected. Other vice-chairs include Zdenek Skromach and Marie Souckova. The last vice-chair to win the election was Local Development Minister Petr Lachnit, who defeated Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and then-Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik.

April 10 : According to statements made by Czech President Vaclav Havel at a ceremonial dinner given in honor of Albanian President Rexhep Meidani and his wife Lidra, the Czech Republic is ready to share its experience of economic transformation with Tirana. In his speech, President Havel recalled his visit to Albania two years ago, when the Balkan region was tormented by the tragic consequences of then Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic' policy towards Kosovar Albanians. However, current developments show that not all of the problems have been overcome, according to the Czech President, and to become a region of peace, southeastern Europe, including Albania, should gradually build a civil society with the coexistence of various peoples and respect for minorities.

April 10 : The international commission formed on the basis of the Czech-Austrian agreement signed in Melk, Austria in November concluded that the impact of the Temelin nuclear power plant on the environment is low, insignificant, and acceptable. The report is based on testimonies of experts from the Czech Republic and the European Commission (EC); Austria and Germany cooperated with the commission as independent observers. The study gives high marks to Temelin's impact on local hydrology, atmosphere and climate, while describing in a less positive light the plant=s impact on landscape and nature. The document, however, drew serious criticism from environmentalists and Temelin opponents.

April 10 : Czech Army Chief of Staff Jiri Sedivy said at a meeting with his Latvian counterpart Raimonds Graube that the Czech Republic was ready to extend material technical assistance to the Latvian Armed Forces, including heavy transportation vehicles, spare parts to previously donated military equipment, and cooperation in the area of chemical protection. Sedivy ensured his Latvian partner that the Czech Republic supported NATO enlargement.

April 13 : Belarus deported Michal Plavec, head of the Czech People in Need Foundation (PINF) office in Minsk. Plavec was interrogated by Belarus State Security Committee (KGB) officials, who then sealed the Minsk PINF office. According to PINF Executive Director Tomas Pojar, the official reason given for Mr. Plavec's deportation was a violation of his duty to register his stay in Belarus. He allegedly stayed at a different address in Minsk than was stated in his documents. "We express a principal disagreement with this step, as we have learned that the reasons provided are totally ungrounded," Czech Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ales Pospisil said.

April 17 : The minority Social Democratic government marked one thousand days in office. According to Prime Minister Milos Zeman, the government has fulfilled 75 percent of their policy program, although he is dissatisfied with the slow pace of the "clean hands" anti-corruption campaign, the shortcomings in tax collection, and the failure to pass legislation for the judiciary reform. However, the Prime Minister listed declining inflation, the more than doubled growth in foreign investment, rising standards of living, and the decrease of the unemployment rate as the greatest achievements of the current Cabinet.

April 17 : President Vaclav Havel, accompanied by his wife Dagmar Havlova and his doctor Ilja Kotik, spent about two weeks in Portugal to improve his health. The Czech President, who has been frequently ill with bronchitis and had a small cancerous tumor removed from his lung in 1996, was advised by doctors to visit the seaside regularly. President Havel spent two weeks at the Lanzarotte island (which has a very similar climate to Portugal) in January.

April 17 : The population of the Czech Republic decreased by 11,552 to 10,266,546 inhabitants last year, according to data from the Czech Statistics Office (CSU). The decrease in population was recorded in all regions except for Central Bohemia and the Liberec region in northern Bohemia. The largest decline (6,000 people) was recorded in Prague, followed by the regions of Ostrava, Brno and Olomouc. The number of deaths outnumbered the number of newborns by 18,000.

April 19 : While in Nicosia, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan expressed a belief that Cyprus' accession to the EU would help find a solution to the Cyprus problem, adding that the Czech Republic would like to see an early peaceful solution in line with the UN relevant resolutions. Apart from discussions regarding both countries' bid to join the EU, Mr. Kavan=s talks with his Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Kasoulides, focused on the strengthening of trade relations and the situation in the Balkans.

April 23 -24 : Headed by Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies Vaclav Klaus, a group of Czech Deputies visited Croatia for a series of talks with their Croatian counterparts and other high-level officials. The talks highlighted the process of European integration, the situation in the Balkans, and economic cooperation between the two countries. The Czech delegation expressed their support for Croatia's accession to the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA).



US-Czech Trade Soars

Czech Exports to the U.S. Exceed $1 Billion

The volume of Czech exports to the United States reached $1,071 million in 2000. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce=s statistics, Czech imports from the United States amounted to $733 million. Trade between the two countries has expanded tremendously in recent years, nearly quadrupling since 1993. In 2000 alone, the volume of U.S.-Czech trade increased 32 percent. Czech exports grew 42 percent compared with the previous year, while U.S. exports increased 20 percent. Should the positive trend in exchange maintain its current speed, Czech trade levels may soon catch up with other comparably-sized western European economies.

Among the major Czech articles exported to the U.S. were electrical machinery, machinery, glass and glassware, organic chemicals, and furniture and bedding. U.S. exports to the Czech Republic were dominated by aircraft, machinery, electrical machinery, optical and medical instruments, and tobacco. The fastest growing export in 2000 from both the Czech Republic and the U.S. was electrical machinery, as measured by its value increase.



Seminar on the Implications of EU Enlargement

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Central and Eastern Europe Business Information Center hosted a briefing on April 10 entitled, "Moving Beyond Transition: An Examination of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland." The program featured presentations from the embassies of the three countries, as well as remarks from Dr. Susanne Lotarski, Director of the Department of Commerce's Office of Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Independent States, and Dr. Keith Crane, the Director of Research for PlanEcon. The presentations focused on the evolving commercial and economic environments in these three countries and their impact on U.S. firms with commercial interests in the region. Representatives from over 70 U.S. companies attended the briefing, which was followed by a reception hosted by the Greater Washington Board of Trade's International Gateway, featuring remarks from the Commerce's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe Charles Ludolph; the Hungarian and Polish Ambassadors to the United States; and a representative of the Czech Embassy who spoke on behalf of the Czech Ambassador.


Business Digest

April 2 : German tire manufacturer Continental will invest CZK 2 billion ($51.03 million) over the next five years in one of its Czech subsidiaries, the brake factory Continental Teves. The Hannover-based company wants to construct an assembly line for brake boosters and cylinders that will add 670 more jobs to its current 900 at the Czech unit. The investment will make the plant one of Europe's largest brake system producers. Continental received investment incentives in the form of a five-year partial corporate tax break and the freedom from paying import duty on machinery. The plant manufactures for numerous leading car producers, including Renault, Jaguar, DaimlerChrysler and German automakers.

April 4 : A major Czech IT firm recently announced that two of its cryptologists had discovered a serious flaw in the OpenPGP standard encryption technology, a technology widely used throughout the world in electronic signature systems. PGP, a hybrid cryptosystem made up of four cryptographic elements, is regarded as practically unbreakable. Two Czech experts, Mr. Vlastimil Klima and Mr. Tomas Rosa, discovered a way for an attacker to bypass the strong encryption and obtain the private signature key by using a special program. The attacker is then able to use someone else's electronic signature. The experts claim the format to be an example of using the right tools in the wrong way, as it takes about one half of a second for an ordinary office PC to calculate the stolen signature key. Both the inventor of PGP, Philip Zimmerman, and the company which produces the encryption software based on this format, Network Associates, have acknowledged that the system is vulnerable. However, they downplayed the seriousness of the loophole by pointing out that only the signature is vulnerable to attack --the encrypted data cannot be accessed or compromised in any way.

April 6 : The Czech Republic will have to invest around CZK 100 billion ($3 billion) to meet EU requirements for waste water disposal. The money should be spent on the construction of new water treatment facilities, the enhancement of technology currently in existing sewage systems, and the construction of new systems. EU legislation requires that every municipality of more than 2000 inhabitants have its own water treatment facility. However, only cities with more than 10,000 people currently have such facilities in the Czech Republic.

April 9 : The Czech government has rejected a proposal that would put the sale of stakes in four energy companies on the fast track. Spokesman Libor Roucek told reporters that the cabinet voted against selling its minority stakes in four minor companies before selling major operators CEZ and Transgas. The decision means that the Government will stick to its original plan of first selling the dominant power producer CEZ, along with majority stakes in six electricity distributors, and then separately selling the minority stakes it holds in the remaining two. The government plans to sell the power sector companies either this year or in early 2002.

April 11 : The Czech unemployment rate fell to 8.7 percent in March, down from 9 percent in February. The unemployment rate stood at 9.5 percent in March of 2000. This positive trend was expected by analysts and follows a pick-up in economic activity. The lowest unemployment rate was in Prague and central Bohemia -around 3 percent, while North Bohemian and Moravian regions with a lot of heavy industry reported unemployment figures between 16 and 21 percent.

April 12 : Siemens has said it will sell stakes in two units of the Czech automotive cable maker Siemens Automobilova Technika to the U.S. company Alcoa Fujicura and the Japanese firm Yazaki. The two units are suppliers for Volkswagen and BMW. Siemens Automobilova Technika posted a turnover of CZK 2.5 billion ($65 million) last year.

April 13 : According to the Czech Car Importers' Association, new car sales in the Czech Republic dropped 5.9 percent in March against one year ago, bringing the first quarter decline to 3.9 percent. Total unit sales dropped to 35,357 in the first three months, down from 36,775 in the same period last year. The domestic producer Skoda Auto, a unit of Volkswagen, tightened its grip on the domestic market, raising sales by 11.6 percent to 19,776 and market share to 55.9 percent from the 48.2 percent of one year ago. Volkswagen was the largest importer, with 2,336 cars sold, followed by Peugeot with 1,847, Opel with 1,809, and Renault with 1,473. Sales of light utility vehicles rose 17.1 percent to 3,673 units in the first three months.

April 16 : According to data provided by the Czech National Bank, foreign strategic investors already hold 75 percent of the banking sector's total assets . As one major bank (Komercni Banka) and several smaller banks are being sold, foreign investors will soon hold as much as 95 percent of the 40 banks in the country. Compared to 1999, the volume of newly granted loans in 2000 stagnated. Loan volumes increased 0.3 percent last year, translating into a nearly 4 percent decline after the inflation effect.

April 17 : The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it expected the Czech economy to grow by around three percent this year, after a growth of 3.1 percent in 2000. The fund confirmed that there were no significant inflationary pressures and that the central bank should retain its current policy stance. The IMF said that the current strength of the Czech currency does not pose a threat to the external competitiveness of Czech businesses and that they supported the central bank's policy to limit foreign exchange interventions only to cases where disorderly market conditions might develop.

April 18 : The Labor Ministry intends to return unemployment payments back to their previous levels before budget cuts were made in 1997, that is from 50 percent to 60 percent of the salary for the first three months, and from 40 percent to 50 percent for the next three months. The Ministry also plans to enable those who have worked at least 20 years to claim unemployment for a longer period and to introduce stricter rules for those who work only for short periods and return regularly to labor offices.

April 19 : The State-controlled telecom group Ceske Radiokomunikace approved a CZK 395 gross dividend per share at the annual general meeting. Shareholders agreed that the company will pay a total of CZK 12.21 billion (around $350 million) out of its CZK 15.03 billion net profit last year. The higher dividend was proposed by the government National Property Fund (NPF), which holds a 51 percent stake in the company. Tele Danmark, a Danish company controlled by the U.S. giant SBC Communications, holds a 21 percent stake in Radiokomunikace and supported the proposal. The government is in exclusive talks with Tele Danmark over the sale of the NPF stake.

April 20 : Norwegian Telenor has indicated interest in the Czech government's 51 percent stake in the telecom company Ceske Radiokomunikace, but Deputy Minister for Telecommunications Marcela Gurlichova told the press there was little chance that the government would cancel exclusive negotiations with Tele Danmark.


Profile : Judy Baar Topinka

Born in Riverside, Illinois to William and Lillian Shuss Baar, Illinois State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka is a third-generation American of Czech descent. Since early childhood, she was raised with a strong sense of her Czech heritage and has since become an exemplary Czech American, radiating of a perseverance and pride that has enabled her to embrace her family=s history while pioneering the competitive fields of politics and journalism.

As a child, Judy often performed on her mother Lillian=s (who also had traces of Slovak heritage from her Great Grandmother hailing from the Banska Bystrica area), Czech radio program that ran in Chicago for thirteen years. Judy=s father=s family came from the town of Klenci in the Chodsko region of Bohemia, where a statue of his father=s uncle (or great uncle), the great Czech patriotic writer and priest, Jindrich Simon Baar, sits.

Though Czech was Judy=s first language, she was fully bilingual by the time she entered school. In addition to her regular schooling, she attended the Czech school Alois Jirasek every Saturday for five years.

In 1962, Judy Topinka graduated from the Ferry Hall School in Lake Forest and went on to receive her B.S. degree from Northwestern University=s Medill School of Journalism in 1966. Upon her graduation, Topinka quickly established herself as an accomplished journalist in the Cook County suburbs. For eleven years, she also worked as a reporter and editor for several award-winning community newspapers, while simultaneously founding a public relations firm, serving as a public affairs executive with the American Medical Association, and as a public relations adviser to area political candidates and organizations.

After a triumphant career in journalism, Topinka became a State Representative from the Western Suburbs in 1980 and began her political career. Two terms in the Illinois House of Representative positioned Topinka for a successful bid for State Senate in 1984, a position which she served in for ten years. Topinka continues to serve locally as the Riverside Township Republican Committeeman, while on the national scene serving as the Chairman of the Republican State Treasurer Caucus. She additionally served as the Chairman of the Ethnics for Bush 2000 during George W. Bush=s run for president.

On November 8, 1994, Judy Baar Topinka was elected Illinois State Treasurer and became the first woman in Illinois history to hold the post. She won a second term as State Treasurer in November of 1998, thus becoming the first woman to be elected to a statewide office. In addition to her duties as Illinois State Treasurer, Judy Baar Topinka serves as the Treasurer of the National Association of State Treasurers and the former President of the Midwest Region of the National Association of State Treasurers.

Through her numerous achievements in journalism and public service, Topinka has earned awards from more than 250 civic, business, professional and social service organizations, including the titles of Legislator of the Year, Abraham Lincoln Legislator of the Year Award, the "Molly Pitcher" Award, the "Silver Eagle" Award, and the Department of the Army´s Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, Israel Bonds Man of the Year and Poland´s highest commendation to a non-Pole.

Topinka belongs to more than sixty business and professional organizations, including the City Club of Chicago, the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the West Suburban Chapter of the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority, where she was named one of three "Outstanding Citizens" by her National Sorority in 1994.

To this day, Judy Baar Topinka maintains very close connections with her relatives in the Czech Republic. She was the first person in her family to return to her ancestral home to visit relatives, and while there traveled extensively, visiting various places of historic importance. She still maintains contact with many of her relatives via the Internet. Mrs. Topinka enjoys reading and practicing the Czech language with both her relatives and friends. Judy has one son, Joseph, who is a graduate of Northern Illinois University Law School and is a Captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps. Judy and her son still maintain the customs and holidays of their Czech heritage. Mrs. Topinka is a member of the Czech social club Ceska Beseda, and is a strong supporter of Czech organizations that still maintain a presence in the United States.

The XX American Sokol Slet in Detroit, MI

The American Sokol Organization (ASO), a non-profit educational and physical culture association with headquarters in Chicago, IL is in final preparations for the XX American Sokol Slet, to be held in the Detroit Area from June 27 through July 1, 2001.

Sokol (the Czech word for falcon -- a symbol of independence, strength, and the fearless defense of its domain) has an unprecedented history: in 1862, Dr. Miroslav Tyrs created the society in Prague during a time of oppression toward all non-German nations of the Austrian Empire. Tyrs and his friend, Sokol co-founder Jindrich Fuegner (1822-1865), understood that only physically fit, mentally alert, and culturally educated people could form a healthy, strong nation. Thus, they followed the Ancient Greek credo of a sound mind in a sound body.

Sokol was soon introduced to the United States by Czech immigrants. The first branch was established in St. Louis on February 14, 1865. Within a few decades, the American Sokol grew into 75 local units organized into six geographical districts (zupy in Czech) with more than 15,000 members. All members are united in the American Sokol Organization. In addition, ASO closely cooperates with other similar organizations of different nationalities, including the Polish Falcons of America, the Slovak Gymnastic Union Sokol of the U.S.A., and the Russian and Ukrainian Sokols, among others.

Sokol members have always stood at the forefront of Czech national aspirations: they were among the most sincere and brave supporters of Tomas G. Masaryk´s Czechoslovak independence movement during WW I, and later formed the core of the anti-Nazi resistance movement. In fact, the very possession of a membership in the Sokol organization was cause for great suspicion from the Nazis and thus, many Sokols were sent to concentration camps. Only a short while later, the strength of the Sokol ideology was clearly realized by the Communist regime, as well. Immediately after the Communist takeover in February of 1948, the Sokol organization was closed, its leaders imprisoned. Many took refuge in the United States, where they continued the fight for democracy and human rights back in their old country. Not surprisingly, in 2000, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan bestowed the Jan Masaryk Gratias Agit award upon two American Sokol leaders, Vladislav Slavík and Fred Kala.

Within the Sokol community, the Slet is the climax. Slet, originally a Czech word, means much more than a gathering of people: Slet means huge gymnastics performances, mass calisthenics perfectly designed to demonstrate physical fitness, spiritual unity, and the patriotism of its members. The American Sokol Organization=s Slets are organized every four years, though individual districts hold their contests on an annual basis. A worlwide gathering of all the Sokols takes place in Prague, usually at six-year intervals.

Hosted by Sokol Detroit, the 2001 Slet will serve as a unique opportunity for those who have never had the chance to watch the great performances of hundreds and thousands of disciplined athletes, or experience the rich cultural program, great food and friendly people that a Slet offers. For further information, please visit the American Sokol Website at: or contact Ms. Anne Eisner at 313-382 0406.


Dreams and Disillusions

Karel Teige and the Czech Avant-Garde

Dreams and Disillusion provides a long overdue exploration of the career of the most important Czech proponent of modernism, Karel Teige. Formerly overlooked in Western accounts of the European avantgarde, Teige (1900 - 1951) was a graphic designer and architectural theorist whose innovations in book design, poetry, stage sets, and collage revolutionized Czech artistic production in the 1920s and ´30s. This exhibition both reveals the major contributions of Teige and his circle to the development of modernism and illuminates the social and political forces that affected Czechoslovakia from the end of World War I to the Soviet occupation in 1968. It features some 100 objects, including 21 of Teige´s surrealist collages -- never before seen in the US -- as well as a life-size walk-in model of Teige´s ideal workers´ apartment.

The exhibition is on view from May 1 through July 7, 2001 (Tue, Thu, Fri, 11 am - 6 pm, Wed 11 am - 8 pm, Sat 11 am - 5 pm) at Grey Art Gallery, NY University, 100 Washington Square East, NYC, tel. 212-998 6780, fax 212-995 4024.


Teige Exhibition Opening Attracts Many Visitors

Opening of exhibition "Dreams and Disillusion: Karel Teige and Czech Avant-Garde" at the Grey Art Gallery of the New York University attracted over 400 visitors on the night of April 30. The guest of honor of the evening and the next day's lecturer was Dr. Rostislav Svacha of the Academy of Sciences in Prague, a respected scholar of Karel Teige and the Czech Avant-Garde and coauthor with Dr. Eric Dluhosh of the book "Karel Teige: L'Enfant Terrible of the Czech Modernist Avant-Garde" published by MIT Press in 1999. Among other honored guests of the opening were Cathy Leff, director of The Wolfsonian Institute of the Florida International University and curator Marianne Lamonaca from the same institution which organized the exhibition and premiered it in Florida last fall. Also present was Kenneth Frampton, specialist on modern architecture, Czech Consul General Petr Gandalovic, Director of the Czech Center New York Premysl Pela and many others. The Czech Center assisted with organization of Dr. Svacha's lecture on Karel Teige and the Architectural Avant-Garde and also prepared an exhibition of Czech Posters Between the Wars on view in the Czech Center gallery May 9-June 22.


Artist of the Month : Vratislav Brabenec

Vratislav Brabenec (1943), saxophonist for the rock group The Plastic People of the Universe, was fundamental in the band=s decision to stop singing in English and playing borrowed compositions -- or at least that is the contention of Paul Wilson, former member of the band and now a leading translator of top Czech authors, including Václav Havel. Among other things, Brabenec wrote the libretto for what was probably the Plastics= most significant composition -- The Passion. In it he used the underlying theme of Christian culture: the death of Christ, a familiar subject matter for Brabenec, who once studied theology in Prague. Although his gaze was upwards (O God, you live so far away... as he once wrote in a Plastics lyric), he felt himself to be in the underground. The prosecution and subsequent imprisonment of the band=s members at the end of the 1970s inspired the creation of Charter 77. In 1982, Brabenec left for Vienna. A year later he moved to Canada, where he made his living as a landscape gardener; in his youth he had studied viniculture (together with another future underground songwriter Svatopluk Karásek, who was also later a fellow-student at the theological faculty). While abroad, Brabenec=s musical activity was sporadic, although he did perform with another emigré, Josef Karafiát, who, in 1995, accompanied him on his only solo album Konec léta (Black Point), along with pianist Filip Topol, the Plastics= drummer Jan Brabec, and others. The Prague publishing house Ma_a brought out two books by Brabenec: an automatic prose work entitled Karlín Wharf, written in the early 80s, and a miniature edition of poetry and song lyrics.





The upcoming three-day performance of Second-Hand Twilight, complete with a genre-crossing puppet performance, will feature renowned recipient of the Jindrich Chalupecky Foundation Award and Tvrdohlavi art group member Petr Nikl, as well as artists Jana Svobodova, Jaroslav Koran, and Michael Delia. In a powerful blend of color, music, feeling, mood, and even aroma, the performance becomes a tangible experience for the audience. With various tempos and rhythms, Nikl's primary means of expression -namely light, shadow, fire and water -will transform, penetrate, infiltrate and influence, while incorporating hand-made puppets reminiscent of familiar childhood objects. The performance will take place in the Embassy garden, weather permitting. We suggest casual and comfortable dress. Due to the evolutionary character of this event, we encourage audiences to consider attending more than one performance. Reservations are strongly recommended. At 8:30 p.m. at the Czech Embassy. Please call: 202/274-9100, x. 3413. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Embassy Events


May 15 -September 20

In a fascinating display by one of the most notorious and respected artists of the Czech Republic, Skiers, a selection of sensitively and humorously created images of mature characters on skis in a variety of circumstances, is not an exhibit for ski aficionados only. Artist Martin Velisek, a graduate of the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague, primarily concerns himself with glassmaking, painting, drawing, illustrations, graphics and photography. His work has been exhibited in galleries in Prague, Liberec, Vienna, Paris, and Melbourne, among others. Martin Velisek is a member and court artist of the music group Uz jsme doma. His work Skiers will be on display through September 20, weekdays from 9-5 and evenings during events.



Friday, June 1

As any traveller to Prague can attest to, the spirit of Franz Kafka lingers omnipresent and vital throughout the city's streets. Having left behind him much more than a rich literary heritage, Kafka's legacy captured something indescribable about the Bohemian lands. On the occasion of Kafka's upcoming 118th birthday, the Czech Embassy hosts an evening of short stories presented in collaboration with Washington's SCENA Theatre and directed by Robert McNamara. At 7:30 p.m. at the Czech Embassy. Reservations are recommended. Please call 202/274-9100, x. 3413. Tickets are $10 at the door.


Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, June 6,8 + 9

Renowned recipient of the Jindrich Chalupecky Foundation Award and Tvrdohlavi art group member Petr Nikl comes to the Czech Embassy for a three day performance of Solstice, featuring a genre-crossing puppet theater presentation. In a powerful blend of color, feeling, mood, and even aroma, the performance becomes a tangible experience for the audience. With various tempos and rhythms, Nikl's primary means of expression -namely light, shadow, fire and water -will transform, penetrate, infiltrate and influence, while incorporating hand-made puppets reminiscent of familiar childhood objects. The performance will take place in the Embassy garden, weather permitting. We encourage casual and comfortable dress. Reservations are strongly recommended. At 8:30 PM at the Czech Embassy. Please call: 202/274-9100, x. 3413. Tickets are $10 at the door. Please call: 202/274-9100, x. 3413.



Tuesday, June 12

The Embassy of the Czech Republic presents the tenth in a popular series of concerts of Czech chamber music with Washington Musica Viva under the direction of Carl Banner. With a program that includes Dvorak's great Sonata for violin and piano, Op. 57, and the delightful Sonata Semplice by Petr Eben, as well as Martinu's Bergerettes and the Elegie for Piano Trio by Josef Suk, this evening promises to be yet another inspiring evening for music lovers. At 7:30 p.m. at the Czech Embassy. Reservations are recommended. Please call (202) 274-9100, ext. 3413. Tickets are $10 at the door.


Mark your calendar !

June 1 Franz Kafka Birthday Celebration

June 6,8+9 Solstice with Petr Nikl

June 12 Washington Musica Viva

Events around the USA

Every Sunday

Czech Voice of Cleveland with Joseph Kocab on WRMR AM/850 11AM-12PM

WERE AM/1300 1-2PM

For further details, please contact Joseph Kocab at 216.883.4760

Karlin Wednesday Dances 2001

Czech Food served from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, dancing from 7:30 to 10:30 PM.

Karlin Hall and Club, 5304 Fleet Avenue, Cleveland, OH.

June 6 Magic Buttons, June 13 Hanslik/Kurka, June 20 Hronek Czech Band, June 27 Homesteaders, July 4 Maple Hts. B.B., July 11 Bob Sabatka, July 18 Northern Ohio, July 25 Ben Landfield

For reservations, please call 216.4289.2450

For more information, please call 216.883.4760

April 24-May 27

The June Bateman Gallery presents Sense of Place, a photo exhibition by Daniel Anizon, Petra Rusickova and Laura Nash at the WaterMoon Gallery, 211 West Broadway, New York, NY

For more information, please call 212.227.1431

June 2

The Hastings Nebraska Czechs celebrate a Czech Festival with ethnic foods, a Heritage display, an accordion jamboree, and a Queen Coronation at 4:00.

At South Central -VFW Club, Hwy 6 & Wabash.

Fore more information, please call 402.435.6914 or visit

June 3

Sponsored by the Nebraska Czechs of the Panhandle, guests are invited to Hemingford for a covered dish dinner at 12:00 noon (bring one meat dish and one other dish, plus own table service). Dancing will follow with music by the Bruha Trio of Elyria. At the Legion Hall.

12 PM (covered dish dinner)

For more information, please call 402.435.6914 or visit

June 6

The American Czechoslovak Ladies club meets at the American Czech-Slovak Cultural Club in North Miami. Followed by an afternoon of music, cards and raffle. 13325 Arch Creek Road, North Miami, FL

12 PM (Luncheon)

1 PM (meeting)

For more information, please call 305.891.9130


June 8-10

Western District Slet hosted by Sokol South Omaha

2021 U Street, Omaha, NE

June 10

Ceska sin Karlin of Greater Cleveland hosts a bus trip to St. Anthony's in Chatham, Ontario for a Moravian Slovak Festival with Czech music, food, and an outdoor mass.

For more information, please call 216.321.6302, 216.883.4760 or 216.439.3653

June 10

The American Czech-Slovak Cultural Club hosts a Dinner Special of pork goulash with sauerkraut. 13325 Arch Creek Road, North Miami, FL

3 PM (Board and Membership meeting)

For more information, please call 305.891.9130 or visit

June 15

Ceska sin Karlin hosts the "Karlin Poor Man's Party" with music by Frank Moravcik. 5304 Fleet Avenue, Cleveland, OH.

For more information, please call 216.883.4760

June 21 -24

The Clarkson Czech Festival celebrates Clarkson Czech heritage with music, dancing, great food and much more. From Friday night=s opening concert to Sunday=s final street dance, the program is packed with entertainment and fun for the whole family, including a rodeo, talent contest and Nebraska Czech-Slovak Queen pageant.

For more information, visit

June 27-July 1

Sokol Detroit hosts the XX American Sokol Slet 2001 with a rich cultural program and fun for everyone. In the Detroit Metropolitan Area (Dearborn/Dearborn Heights).

For more information, please call 630.362.0771

July 8

Ceska sin Karlin celebrates Cesky Den at the D.T.J. Farm with Czech food and Music.

11-7 p.m.

For more information, please call 440.543.8494

July 20-22

The Nebraska Czechs of Dwight host Little Czech Dancers and Car Show. Dinners and dancing throughout the weekend. At the Legion Hall & Church Hall, Dwight, NE

5 PM Saturday, 10:30 AM Sunday

For more information, please call 402.435.6914 or visit


Czech Center New York

Series of Events : Czech Modernism

Exhibition : Dreams and Disillusion: Karel Teige and the Czech Avant-Garde

at Grey Art Gallery, New York University 100 Washington Square East, NYU

Exhibition on view: May 1 - July 7, 2001

Tue, Thu, Fri 11am-6pm, Wed 11am-8pm, Sat 11am-5pm)

Czech Posters Between the Wars (1918-1938)

To accompany the show Dreams and Disillusion: Karel Teige and the Czech Avant-garde at Grey Art Gallery, the Czech Center presents an exhibition of Czech posters.

Czech Center New York, 1109 Madison Ave., NYC

Exhibition on view: May 9 - June 22, 2001, Opening Wed, May 9, 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Play : Reunion in Prague

The remarkable story of American actress Hildy Brooks, who in 1967 visited Prague, where she met and fell in love with Czech sculptor Olbram Zoubek. A play by Hildy Brooks.

The Lee Strasberg Theater Institute, 115 E 15th St., NYC, tel. 212-533-5500

June 16 and 17, 2001, 7:30pm

Film : Alchemist of the Surreal - Jan Svankmajer Retrospective

June 8 - 14, 2001 FACETS, 1517 W Fullerton Ave., Chicago, IL, tel. 773-281-9075,

June 15-18, 2001 American Cinematheque, Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, tel. 323-466-FILM,

July 6 - 12, 2001 Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St., NYC, tel. 212-727-8110,

Film : Adelheid

Videoscreening of 1969 feature film directed by Frantisek Vlacil (subtitled)

May 31, Czech Center, N.Y., 7 p.m.

Czech Center in June

June 11 - Elementary School, video at Czech Center

June 16 and 17 - Reunion in Prague, a play by Hildy Brooks

June 22 - Czech Posters between the Wars, exhibition closes at Czech Center

June 28 - The Same Yet Different, exhibition of painting and sculpture