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Vol.
21, No.
No. 37
Vol. 21,
Vol.
20, No.
41
Monday,
April 6,
Sunday, April
19, 2015
Monday,
February
9, 2015
2015 -- Sunday,
February
22, 2015
Monday, December 1, 2014 - Sunday, December 7, 2014
Net nationalism
Eight
is enough
The internet
is fertile
Slovakia
has agreed
to take
ground
fordetainees
extremistfrom
hate
two
more
speech.
Law
enforcement
the US’s Guantanamo Bay
faces a camp.
new challenge
as
prison
This brings
much
of
it
takes
place
the total number up toon
eight
websites
that
areastored
on
since
2010,
with
Yemeni
foreign
servers.
and a Tunisian slated for
pg 2
arrival shortly.
pg 2
The right way
The Pontis Foundation
Lucrative
libel suitsgave
out the
annual Via
Bona of
After
a quarter
century
awards
to the
country’s
free
press,
Slovakia
still
most responsible
busi- listruggles
with onerous
nesses.
Accenture
and
Alfa
bel
laws.
Excessive
payBio took
home officials
the top can
outs
to public
awards.
often
serve to threaten
pg 3
journalists and lead to selfcensorship.
pg 3
OPINION
Soft power
OPINION
BUSINESS FOCUS
BUSINESS FOCUS
Now boarding
Growth directness
at the Košice airport
Dutch
was matched
by decline in
Judges
in the Netherlands
Bratislava
last
year. to
Some
make
strong
efforts
comare hopeful
that
the growmunicate
and
engage
with
ing presence
of Slovak
discount
the
public. The
judiairlines
willconsider
boost passenciary
might
doing
ger numbers
inDutch
years to
the
same, says
Amcome. Richard Van
bassador
pg 6
Rijssen.
pg 6
Speed boats
Now largely thepartners
domain of
Presidential
tourist
cruises
theon
Danube
As
Slovakia
takes
the
offers untapped
potential
European
Council’s
rotating
for commuters.
Bratislava
presidency
in 2016,
expect
would benefit
from an upinvestment
cooperation
gradeDutch
in such
services. to
with
companies
pg 7
grow even further.
pg 7
CULTURE
CULTURE
Holiday fear
No need for
women to be
Artistic
initiation
afraid
if loved
ap- of
The
top
worksones
by some
proach
carrying
a switch
in
the
country’s
most
promthe coming
Slovakia’s
ising
artistsdays.
are on
Easter whipping
tradition
display
at Bratislava’s
harkens back
to anthrough
old paNedbalka
gallery
gan ritual. 21.
December
pg 10
10
pg
SELECT
FOREX RATES
RATES
SELECT FOREX
€benchmark
benchmark as of
March 1927
November
as of
CANADA
CAD 1.40
1.36
CANADA
CAD
CZECH REP. CZK 27.54
CZECH
REP.
CZK 27.61
RUSSIA
RUB 62.43
RUSSIA
GREAT BRITAIN RUB
GBP58.66
0.72
GREAT BRITAIN GBP 0.79
HUNGARY HUF HUF
307.298.52
14
HUNGARY
JAPAN
CZK 129.29
JAPAN
JPY 146.67
POLAND
PLN 4.06
POLAND
PLN USD 4.181.07
USA
1.25
USA
USD
of this issue
Sports
Kiska
makes
financing
first
address
crisis
peaks
to MPs
NEWS
NEWS
President Andrej Kiska was
elected one optimism
year ago. AnyCautious
one whochanges
genuinely
supRecent
in the
judiports are
pluralist
ciary
a signdemocracy
of positive
should be
withtime,
the
change.
Athappy
the same
rolechance
he has played
since
the
to reform
public
taking office. cannot be
procurement
pg 5
missed.
pg 5
€ 1.20
.20
FOCUS
FOCUS
of this issue
Several thousands of people gathered at SNP Square in Bratislava on September 25 to protest against corruption in
Slovakia
markssector.
the 70th anniversary of liberation and the end of WWII.
Photo:
the
healthcare
Photo:TASR
Sme
Small
businesses
cut
Smer’s
Pellegrini
out inup
Váhostav
takes
speakercase
role
VÁHOSTAV-SK,
oneRobert
of the Fico
country’s
PRIME
Minister
has
biggest construction
is drawpicked
a rising starfirms,
of his
Smer
ing headlines
amid plansto
to become
pay just
party,
Peter Pellegrini,
15 percent
debts to small
the
speakerofofitsparliament
afterbusiPanessPaška
subcontractors
part the
of itskey
revol
resigned asfrom
structuring plan.
constitutional
post on the heels of a
The plan
hasalleged
angered corruption,
not only the
scandal,
and
entrepreneurs overpriced
but has drawn
critisurrounding
medical
cism from both Prime Minister
equipment.
Robert
Fico and
the
politicaljobs
opposiPellegrini
has
changed
sevtion.times
As Fico
strategises
ahead
eral
in recent
months:
fromof
a
elections
next spring,
placesMinhim
state
secretary
at thethis
Finance
in the
criticising
Juraj
istry
heposition
replacedof
Dušan
Čaplovič
as
Široký, an alleged
sponsor
of hisa Smer
education
minister,
and after
brief
partythere
withhe
a controlling
interest
in
stop
is now moving
to parVáhostav-SK.
Fico has
declared who
that
liamentary
speaker.
Pellegrini,
his cabinet
support
an investigstarted
his will
career
as assistant
to a
ation into
the restructuring.
Smer
deputy,
earlier this year ad“Wetoare
and feeling
vanced
theperceiving
post of deputy
chairthat of
inSmer.
the case of the Váhostav-SK
man
management there might have been
a question of criminal behaviour,”
Anti-corruption
BY JANA LIPTÁKOVÁ
Spectator
staff
rallies
intensify,
CT scanner fallout
Fico said continues
at a press conference
on
March 27, as cited by the SITA newswire.
Fico
is EATA
distancing
himself from
BY B
BALOGOVÁ
Široký. “I do
not
need
any
Spectator staffsponsors or
businessmen. What do I have with
Mr Široký?” asked Fico, as cited by the
online
the Denníkminister
N daily.
Theedition
post ofofeducation
police
haveministry’s
already started
nowThe
goes
to the
state
investigating
which
secretary
JurajVáhostav-SK,
Draxler, who in
the
underworked
the governments
of Fico as well
past
for the Brussels-based
as his predecessor
Iveta for
Radičová,
has
think-tank,
the Centre
European
won several
large
state and
contracts
for
Policy
Studies
(CEPS),
focused
highway
construction.
on
education
and science.In some of
those
casesfall
it has
offered
prices below
Paška’s
not calmed
pubthose estimated by experts. The results have led to the company failing
to pay
many
of dubious
its subcontractors.
lic
anger
over
deals in the
The company
is ready
to provide
health-care
sector
while
the
all information
andbywill
cooperate
protests
organised
a number
of
with investigators,
company on
reopposition
deputiesthe
culminated
sponded via25
spokesman
Tomáš Halán.
November
when approximately
Váhostav-SK
plans
pay small
5,000
people filled
theto streets
of
subcontractors, those with unseBratislava.
cured
just 15demanded
percent of the
the
Thedebts,
protesters
€104.68
millioncompanies
that is owed,
total of
ban
of shell
ina public
€15.7 million
– and
thisof
only
over the
tenders
and the
recall
additional
course of
five years.
The courts
has not
people
linked
to a flawed
computer
approved the(CT)
restructuring
plan yet.
tomography
scanner tender.
Transparency
Last
week, the International
government
Slovakia,a revision
in cooperation
with proBispitched
to the public
node data law
company,
has uncovered
curement
to parliament
to lock
the complicated
ownership
out
shell companies
from structhe
ture of Váhostav-SK,
which
to
tenders;
critics call the
lawleads
toothshell companies in New Zealand and
less.
Cyprus and even five private persons
based in Costa
SeeRica,
NEWSITA
pg 5 wrote.
JUDGES have opted for yet another
change to the country’s ailing judiWITH campaign
in the
run
ciary,
selecting season
pro-reform
judge
up to next
general
election
Dušan
Čimospring’s
over Štefan
Harabin
to
around
the corner,
and difill
a vacant
seat the
on weak
the Judicial
vided centre-right
than
Council,
a collectionhas
of less
judges
thata
year oversee
to comethe
upcountry’s
with a strategy
for
help
court syschallenging Prime Minister Robert
tem.
Fico’s
rulingthis
Smer
party.
Earlier
year
Harabin, who
to see that
has “It’s
long plain
been criticised
forwith
howthe
he
fewer subjects
running
[inoperating
the elecguided
the judiciary
while
as both Supreme Court and Judicial
Council chair, also failed in his bid to
tions],
the higher
the probability
get
re-elected
as Supreme
Court
that the centre-right
bloc will
be
chairman.
Čimo was a former
Judistronger
after
the election,”
cial
Council
member
who wasGrigdisorij Mesežnikov,
political analyst
missed
by the Smer-controlled
parand president
the before
Institute
for
liament
only oneofweek
the key
Public Affairs
non-governmental
September
16 election
of the Suthink tank,
The Slovak
preme
Courttold
president
andSpecthe
tator. chair. He returns to the
council
Though
fewer
parties
council
afterthere
342 are
of the
country’s
that voting
look tojudges
be contenders
1,119
supported than
him. in
pastWhile
years,Harabin’s
it was nonetheless
on the
critics rejoiced
rise in
recent
days
as man
two new
over
the
results,
the
whopolitconical parties
appeared near
the end
of
trolled
the country’s
judiciary
over
March.
more
than a decade said that “small
Mochovce
GDP
growth
budget
hike
estimates
cleared
revised
up
B J
L
Read more on pg 3
Y ANA IPTÁKOVÁ
Spectator staff
BY JANA LIPTÁKOVÁ
defeats have always launched me to
big victories”. Harabin did not say
In thehemeantime,
parties have
whether
would challenge
the
begun of
talking
about
possible
results
the vote,
in which
heelecfintion alliances
ished
third. and joint candidates.
Čimo of the Trnava Regional
Talking
Court said
the cooperation
results were better
than his expectations and that they
instance,the
is SITA
con“giveMost-Híd,
a reason forfor
optimism”,
crete in itsreported.
intention
to “build
an alnewswire
Čimo
is a White
ternative
the ruling
Smer”that
toCrow
awardtowinner,
an honour
gether
with the
Demogoes
to Slovaks
who Christian
took personal
risk
crats
(KDH) and Sieť,by
Most-Híd
leadas
whistleblowers
challenging
er Béla Bugár
said inbehaviour.
late March.
unethical
or corrupt
THE ECONOMYSpectator
Ministry staff
agreed to increase
the budget on building two new reactors at
the Mochovce nuclear power plant during a
SLOVAKIA’sElektrárne
economy is expected
to grow in
Slovenské
(SE) shareholder
2015 faster
than originally
forecast,
benemeeting
on November
21. Costs
will balloon
from
easing
by the
the
afiting
further
€830quantitative
million to €4.63
billion,
European
whichwith
weakens
state
owns aCentral
third ofBank,
SE’s shares
Italitheconglomerate
European currency,
the euro,
and
low
an
Enel controlling
the
rest.
crude
prices.
Theoil
third
block of Mochovce is planned
Bank of operation
Slovakia has
upto beThe
putNational
into commercial
in late
graded
forecast
January
of
2016
andits
the
fourth from
one year
later,forecast
both four
the growth
of the
gross domestic
years
later than
originally
planned. product
by 0.3
percentage
points,
up fromthan
2.9 per“There
is no other
possibility
to
cent to 3.2Mochovce,”
percent for 2015.
complete
Economy Minister
“Whereas
thethe
positive
impact ofNoviny
the rePavol
Pavlis told
Hospodárske
duction
of oil prices
on the
economy
has
daily,
referring
to already
invested
money,
been lowerofthan
expected
the
previous
thousands
people
workinginon
the
blocks
prognosis
due to the
slight
increase
in
under
construction
as well
as 150
subconcrude oilhalf
euroofprices,
fully realised
tractors,
whom the
are from
Slovakia.programme
will
Whileof
SEextended
will take purchase
out a loanof
toassets
cover the
have €830
a positive
impact
on the Slovak
ecoextra
million,
the postponed
complenomy
mostly
by virtue
of higher
eurozone
tion
of the
project
also means
less money
in
demand
and the
weaker
euroare
exchange
the
state budget
as SE
dividends
used to
rate,” NBS
Governorworks.
Jozef Makúch
on
finance
completion
At the said
shareMarchmeeting,
31 when Enel
introducing
proholder
agreed tothe
14 latest
measures
gnosis.
to
improve project management.
See
pg
SeeRIGHT
OUT pg
22
NBS pgpg
4 4
SeeSee
NUCLEAR
See FIRM pg 9
Harabin out of Judicial Council
Centre-right
still looking for unity
B B
B
Y EATA ALOGOVÁ
Spectator staff
BY MICHAELA TERENZANI
Spectator staff
POLITICIANS can hardly keep convincing
Y Rthe
ADKA
Mproblem
INARECHOVÁ
peopleBthat
biggest
of health care
staffstate tolerates
is the lack of Spectator
money if the
murky deals and waste of public funds in the
healthcare sector, President Andrej Kiska said
DOWNHILL
Adam
Žampa
and his
in
his first keyskier
address
to the
parliament
on
brother Andreas
were
considering
November
26 – with
Prime
Minister leaving
Robert
the Slovak
team The
and president’s
representing
RusFico
notablyski
absent.
speech
sia instead.
move
in the
came
on the The
heelspotential
of a number
ofcame
changes
to
wake of
continued
of that
how of
sports
senior
political
posts,criticism
including
the
are financed
in Slovakia
prompted the
speaker
of parliament
afterand
the resignation
of
government
to intervene
in scandal
the dispute
Pavol
Paška provoked
by a recent
surbetween overpriced
the Žampasmedical
and theequipment
Slovak Skiing
rounding
and
Associationanti-corruption
(SLA).
subsequent
rallies. Fico did
The brothers
citedspoke
a lacktoofafinancial
renot attend
and Kiska
half-empty
sources
andpresence
insufficient
conditions
for
house
in the
of a single
cabinet offitraining
andMinister
preparing
forKažimír,
competitions
as
cial,
Finance
Peter
the Sme
theirreported.
primary motivation for jumping to the
daily
Russian
team.
“Understandably,
people in this case reAfter a week-long
dispute,
Adam Žampa
act especially
sensitively
to profiting
from
has said
hehuman
will stay
on the Slovak
illness
and
misfortune,”
said national
Kiska in
team but to
will
Russians.
response
a train
serieswith
of anti-corruption
ralprimary
is towho
constantly
lies. “My
“There
are fewaim
people
in such awork
case
on myself
and
improve,”
Žampa
on
would
remain
indifferent
and
wouldsaid
not be
March 29, asand
quoted
byThis
the isTASR
disillusioned
angry.
how newsI see
wire. and demonstrations these days.”
protests
Žampa
is notorganised
the onlybySlovak
athlete
The
protests
a number
of
who has complained
about conditions
in the
opposition
deputies culminated
on Novemcountry.
ber
25 when approximately 5,000 people
Ministry and Speaker of
filledThe
theEducation
streets of Bratislava.
Parliament Peter Pellegrini have introduced a draftSee
law,
whichpg
should
make finSPEECH
9
ancing of sports more transparent.
2
NEWS
April 6 – 19, 2015
Extremism shifts online
Cops cleared of shooting at students
THE 2013 incident that saw
police shooting at a car filled
with students as they drove
down a highway is now
closed, after prosecutors
cleared the police of any
wrongdoing. Despite the decision, Interior Minister
Robert Kaliňák paid compensation of €3,000 to each
of the students from his personal money.
“We think there was a
chain of errors committed by
the police that resulted in
shooting at the car of the innocent students,” Ivan
Netík, director of the press
department at the Interior
Ministry, told the press. “So
we believe that they should
be compensated in some
way.”
The case goes back to
June 24, 2013 when four students were driving a car that
was sought by the police. It
was originally owned by
Milan Ďuriš who was sought
for a double murder, but at
the time of the incident it
had not been his property for
more than six years. The police saw the car at the D2
highway driving towards the
Czech Republic and wanted
to stop it.
The student who was at
the wheel said he did not
know that the police patrol
was attempting to stop him.
At first, he stopped, but after
a policeman began waving at
him, he believed that it was a
signal that he may go. After
the car began moving,
however, the police officers
drew their pistols and began
firing at the car. The officer
claimed that by waving at the
driver, he actually wanted to
signal him to leave the car.
The prosecutor general
investigated the case and its
conclusion was that the police action was legitimate
and legal and criminal prosecution of the case was halted.
But the Interior Ministry
admits that two mistakes
occurred. The first one was
that the police should have
not sought to stop the car
when the mistake was on
the side of police who did not
update data about the car in
the database. The second
mistake was that the policemen were not able to agree
on whose jurisdiction the
case belonged to, either
Bratislava Region or Žilina
Region. As a consequence
the students had to wait
three hours sitting at the
highway.
When personally confronted by the students in
April 24, Kaliňák refused to
apologise to them. Currently
however he has apologised to
the driver personally and via
Karol Spišák, the students’
lawyer, to the others.
Because prosecution of
the case was halted, the students can get compensation
from the state budget only
for damages to the car caused
by the shooting of about
€1,800. That is the reason
why the three students
reeceived compensation
from Kaliňák’s pocket. Out of
the four involved students
only three requested compensation.
“Both sides are satisfied
with this agreement, we’ve
shaken hands, and thereby
we consider the whole case
concluded,” Spišák told the
press.
Ministry to cover Čentéš pay out
THE OFFICE of President Andrej Kiska will pay financial
compensation plus court fees
to prosecutor Jozef Čentéš in
line with the verdict of the
Constitutional Court, which
found that former president
Ivan Gašparovič violated
Čentéš’s rights.
In June 2011, Čentéš was
elected by MPs to the post of
general prosecutor by 79 out
of a total of 89 deputies.
Gašparovič first delayed and
then later refused to appoint
him. In 2011, Čentéš filed a
complaint contesting the inactivity of Gašparovič.
In December 2014, a senate of the Constitutional
Court invalidated the decision of Gašparovič, ruling
that Čentéš’ fundamental
rights were violated. Furthermore, the court ordered
that Čentéš should receive
€60,000 in compensation, a
sum that had to be paid by the
end of March, the TASR
newswire reported.
The President’s Office
budget was not drafted with
such an expenditure in mind
and it has asked the Finance
Ministry for an extraordinary one-time financial subsidy.
“The Finance Ministry
complied with the request,”
said the President’s Office
spokesman, Roman Krpelan.
Gašparovič called upon
Kiska to protect the office
budget by turning to the
European Court of Human
Rights in Strasbourg to evaluate whether or not the Constitutional Court arrived at
an appropriate verdict.
“If he (Kiska) won’t do
this, I will, as a participant in
the procedure,” Gašparovič
told TASR, adding that Kiska
should deposit the money
and pay it out only if an adverse decision is reached by
the European court.
Čentéš had already announced that he will donate
the money to charity.
Compiled by Spectator staff
Extremism online
BY ROMAN CUPRIK
Spectator staff
WHILE the amount of racially
motivated crime is declining,
extremists are adopting increasingly sophisticated ways
of spreading their message
online, experts say, and the
government is taking this into account as it has adopted a
new policy to combat extremism.
It is hard to prove that extremist groups violate the law
and they often have political
ambitions, according to the
Concept of the Fight against
Extremism adopted by the
government on March 18.
“The development of
criminality shows that displays of racist discrimination
and other forms of hate crime
has recently been shifting
from the street to the virtual
area,” states the strategy.
The number of reported
crimes related to extremism
has decreased. In 2014 police
reported 40 crimes of extremism while in 2013 it reported 64
such crimes; in 2012 police recorded 49 such crimes. There
Extremists marching in Bratislava on March 14.
are exactly a dozen extremist
groups operating in Slovakia,
including political parties
such as People’s Party – Our
Slovakia (ĽSNS) or sport and
paramilitary groups such as
Slovak Levies or Action Group
Vzdor, according to the document.
NGOs dealing with extremism approached by The
Slovak Spectator say that
formal punishment and pro-
Photo: Sme
secution of such people is not
enough. More than anything
else, public and political figures should actively condemn
such promotion of extremist
behaviour.
“I don’t think that the eye
of Big Brother should be the
main tool against spreading
hatred on the internet,” Laco
Oravec from the Milan
Šimečka Foundation (NMŠ)
told The Slovak Spectator.
The internet is a strategic
place for extremist groups because they do not have access
to space in mainstream media. Moreover, young people
who are more active on the internet tend to spread those
ideas, according to Tomáš
Nociar, a political scientist focusing on extremism.
“Of course, using the internet in this regard is nothing new; however this phenomenon has become more
relevant in recent years,”
Nociar told The Slovak Spectator, “because the number of
people using the internet
every day is increasing.”
The strategy proposes to
improve cooperation with internet providers to better track
extremist statements and
material that spreads via the
internet.
The Bratislava Without
Nazis initiative currently researches statements published
on Slovak websites and social
networks and there are dozens
of them which could violate the
law, according to the group.
See WEB pg 5
RIGHT: Campaign for 2016 begins now
Continued from pg 1
Smer is to be blamed for the “huge
amount of problems” Slovakia faces and
needs to be replaced by politics with a
“legible programme and the courage to
stick with it”, Bugár said. To build a functioning government after the 2016 elections, it needs to be composed of parties
with programme proximity and the ability to cooperate.
Sieť leader Radoslav Procházka, a
former KDH member and a failed presidential candidate, however, dismissed
such talk saying that it is too early to talk
about post-election coalitions. He did not
name any potential partners for his Sieť
party and only said that they will be
“ready to cooperate with others that get
a mandate from voters and who will
identify with the Sieť idea of the state as
a space of practical service for citizens”, as
quoted by the SITA newswire.
Most-Híd’s idea of cooperation among
the named three parties is “an attempt to
revitalise the People’s Platform”, a previous cooperative body, political analyst
Juraj Marušiak of the Slovak Academy of
Sciences told The Slovak Spectator. The
People’s Platform was a grouping of three
centre right parties Most, KDH, and the
Slovak Democratic and Christian Union
(SDKÚ). The latter member has seen numerous defections in recent months and
looks unlikely to reach parliament on its
own after the next election.
At the same time, Marušiak noted that
neither Sieť nor Most-Híd can be sure that
they will make it to the parliament in
2016, “given the current development of
preferences”.
The polls
Opinion polls published in March show
varying voters’ preferences on the right
side of the political spectrum. In both published polls, by the MVK and Polis agencies, Smer oscillates around 38 percent. But
while Sieť came second in the Polis poll
with 9.3 percent of the vote, in the MVK poll
it stood at 7.8 percent, down 4 percentage
points compared to November 2014. KDH
finished second in the MVK poll, with 11.5
percent of the vote. In the Polis poll it received 8 percent, the same as Most-Híd.
In the MVK poll, the Ordinary People
and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO)
would also make it to parliament with 7.7
percent, along with Most-Híd with 7.1
percent, the Party of Hungarian Community (SMK) with 5.4 percent and the
Slovak National Party (SNS) with 5.1 percent, the TASR newswire wrote.
Of the current parties sitting in the
parliament, neither SDKÚ nor Freedom
and Solidarity (SaS) received enough support to pass the 5-percent threshold
needed to gain parliamentary seats, receiving 3.5 and 2.6 percent, respectively.
The Polis poll showed OĽaNO in third
position with 8.8 percent and the SNS
would also get some seats, with its 6.2
percent of votes. Other parties would
garner less than the 5 percent necessary
to reach parliament: SMK polled at 4.7
percent, SaS at 3.8 percent, NOVA at 2.8
percent, and SDKÚ at 2.2 percent.
KDH embraces Hlina
Despite some polls suggesting otherwise, KDH remains the strongest opposition party at this time, analysts contend, as it can still rely on its stable electorate. Recently, the party acquired a new
member in its parliamentary caucus
when Alojz Hlina, elected to the parliament on the slate of OĽaNO, joined the
KDH caucus on March 24 and launched
talks about possible election cooperation
with the party.
Hlina, who after leaving the OĽaNO
caucus founded his own party, Citizens,
has not attracted much voter support over
the past months and failed to make it in
the polls. He did not rule out the possibility that he might appear on KDH’s election slate. He claimed his party will not go
into the election race alone.
“Definitely this alliance shouldn’t
harm KDH,” Mesežnikov said about
Hlina’s joining its caucus, explaining that
Hlina has profiled himself as a conservative person with traditional, slightly
nationalistic values. “Perhaps they are
attempting to address younger voters, as
Hlina with his happenings and actions
has been attracting interest.”
Marušiak, who called Hlina a “political clown”, opined that Hlina is unlikely to make a career in the party, since
he is “too ‘new’ in KDH and at the same
time too individualistic”.
The newcomers
Hlina’s Citizens party has not appeared in the polls so far, similar to two
other parties recently founded on the
right.
The Slovak Civic Coalition SKOK! (the
acronym translates as Jump! in English)
elected Juraj Miškov chairman in late
March. A former economy minister he
was formerly affiliated with SaS. Miškov
has financed all the campaigns of the
party so far from his own pocket, TASR reported. Other SaS renegades, Martin
Chren and Daniel Krajcer, have joined up.
Another party, Šanca (Chance) elected its founder Eva Babitzová, briefly a
member of SDKÚ, as its chairwoman on
March 30, TASR reported. Babitzová, a
former director of Radio Expres, was
commissioned to be at Šanca’s helm until the founding congress scheduled for
June. MP Viliam Novotný (ex-SDKÚ),
Hriňová mayor Stanislav Horník (also exSDKÚ) and tax expert Jarka Lukačovičová
are currently vice-chairs.
Observers however see little room for
the new centre-right parties on what is
already a splintered scene. SKOK and
Šanca cannot be considered strong players yet because they have not appeared in
the polls so far, Mesežnikov noted, adding
that “this is not a situation comparable to
the one that arose after Sieť was founded”.
NEWS
www.spectator.sk
Skier re-opens debate on
sports financing
names of tennis player
Dominika Cibulková, who finished second in the Australian Open in 2014 and also cyclist Peter Sagan, who, among
other accomplishments, won
the green jersey at last year’s
Tour de France.
They were recognised only
after the list was revised.
Amid complaints,
new law will seek
to make funding
for athletes more
transparent
BY RADKA
MINARECHOVÁ
Proposed changes to the law
Spectator staff
A PROPOSED new law on financing and management of
sports, recently introduced by
the Education Ministry, may
calm critics who point to lack
of support for Slovak athletes
representing the country at
top events.
The debate was re-opened
in mid-March as Adam
Žampa, a top Slovak downhill
skier, said he was considering leaving the Slovak team
and joining Russia as he
sought improved financial
support and conditions for
training.
“In Slovakia, you can get to
a certain level in sport, but
alas, my acquaintances, family friends and especially parents cannot secure this forever
(mainly financially),” Žampa
wrote on Facebook in midMarch. “I want to personally
progress, to move forward in
my career, and, unfortunately, this is not possible in
Slovakia. There will certainly
be people who will understand this – but also those who
will be against.”
A winner of several
medals, who posted fifth and
sixth place finishes at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014,
explained that he races almost solely thanks to the resources provided by his parents and sponsors, the SITA
newswire wrote.
Though he finally said on
March 29 that he will not leave
the Slovak national team (but
will train with Russians), his
dispute with the Slovak Skiing Association (SLA) is only a
tip of the iceberg amid a series
of complaints from top athletes about the conditions the
athletes face. In response,
Speaker of Parliament Peter
Pellegrini and Education
Minister Juraj Draxler introduced a new law on sports on
March 31, which seeks to make
their financing more transparent.
“The aim is to create a
standard environment in
which we would not witness
similar steps of some associations and clubs that have occurred in past days,” Pellegrini told the press, as quoted
by SITA.
Parliament is expected to
discuss the law in autumn and,
if passed, the new rules would
come into force in 2016, Pellegrini said.
Adam Žampa
Žampa draws attention
After the media reported
that Žampa and his brother
Andreas were considering defecting to the Russian team,
which reportedly offered better training conditions and
even financial support, Prime
Minister Robert Fico entered
the debate. He met with Tomáš
Žampa, father and coach of the
Žampa brothers, on March 24
and discussed the situation in
the SLA and the athlete’s future, the Denník N daily reported on its website.
“The PM feels sorry about
the departure of the skier, and
I feel sorry too,” Tomáš Žampa
told Denník N. “We will work
on creating conditions for
Adam.”
Meanwhile, Draxler decided that ministry inspectors will soon go to the SLA and
check the management of
funds that the ministry sends
to the association.
“Regardless of this case
[the dispute between the SLA
and Žampa brothers over financing and conditions] it
needs to be said that the system of financing sports is not
set correctly and it is necessary to change the rules to
make financing more transparent,” Draxler said, as
quoted by the TASR newswire.
The SLA welcomed the
planned inspection, saying it
will help the public learn more
about the system for financing the association and also
stop misleading information
about financing of the individual disciplines and skiers,
SLA head František Repka said,
as reported by TASR.
Others complain too
Žampa is not the only skier who has considered leaving
Slovakia. In March 2012 Veronika Velez-Zuzulová also said
she may opt to represent another country.
“We have two possibilities
Photo: TASR
– either to finish with skiing or
leave,” her father and coach
Timotej Zuzula told the press
in 2012, as quoted by TASR.
The apparent reason also
was problems with the SLA,
with Velez-Zuzulová’s team
saying that she did not have
appropriate training conditions to achieve success. At the
time she was receiving
€10,000 per year from the SLA,
with other funds being given
by sponsors, TASR wrote. In
the end, she remained on the
Slovak team.
More recently, Lucia
Tomečková, a former reporter
at the public-service Radio and
Television of Slovakia (RTVS),
wrote a letter to Fico in which,
among other things, she commented on the very poor condition for her daughter who
represents Slovakia in swimming.
“We as parents of the Slovak
representatives
have
learned very quickly to arrange nearly everything because the conditions for athletes in this country are so
catastrophic that we have to
learn to live with them,
identify them and solve them
really quickly,” Tomečková
wrote, as quoted by the
Omediach.com website.
In an opinion piece the
Sme daily summed up that
Slovak sports are overshadowed by various sport associations, unions and committees, which are part of a nontransparent, complex and hard
to figure out system. Financing is crucial, Sme wrote, but
lack of communication, nonsystematic work and other
phenomena also contribute to
the poor situation. Žampa is
only the tip of the iceberg, Sme
stated on March 22.
Sme also pointed in its
opinion piece to recent awards
for athletes that supposedly
listed everybody who had received a medal, including in
sports like darts and arm
wrestling. But the first version of the list missed the
The aim of the new law is
to make the use of money allocated for sports more transparent, Draxler said.
“One of the cornerstones
will be a sports information
system as a public inspection
tool,” Draxler explained, as
quoted by TASR. He added that
it should allow members of the
sports associations to have
enough information about
their activities.
Among the most important proposed changes in the
new law is that each sports association will need to appoint
a controller who will be the
highest inspection authority.
These controllers will check
the use of public money and if
they find any imperfections,
they will call on the associations’ management to remedy them, Education Ministry
spokeswoman Beáta Dupaľová
Ksenzsighová told The Slovak
Spectator.
Moreover, the law proposes establishing a permanent court that would decide on
cases connected to the sport. If
a sports association violates
the rules, it may lose state financial support until it changes
course, she added.
The associations will also
have to publish their management structure and reports
from meetings, as well as to
hold a meeting at least once a
year, TASR wrote.
Since the proposed rules
concern only non-financial
affairs, an expert group still
needs to discuss the financial
aspects which should propose
ways “to find resources and
create a motivational environment for the private sector
in order to make it also support sports more”, Pellegrini
said, as quoted by TASR.
One of the possibilities is
to establish one fund for
sports that would then redistribute the finances among
the various sports associations. It is also proposed to
gradually stop the practice of
some state-run firms to financially support only selected sports events. Under the
proposed rules, these firms
would send funds allocated to
sports directly to the Education Ministry which is responsible for sports, TASR reported.
The proposed financing
plan should be finished in a
month,
Dupaľová
Ksenzsighová said.
April 6 – 19, 2015
3
Pontis hands out
Via Bona awards
Ceremony
recognises most
socially
responsible firms
BY JANA LIPTÁKOVÁ
Spectator staff
CONSULTING firm Accenture
and food producer Alfa Bio
took the top awards at the
Pontis Foundation’s 15th annual Via Bona awards on
March 26.
The awards, with a name
that translates as “good path”
from the original Latin, drew
President Andrej Kiska along
with other key representatives of the country’s business
and social communities. In a
short speech President Kiska
recalled an old Indian proverb saying the unhappiest
people are those who think
about their own happiness
and the happiest are those
who think about the happiness of others.
“I’m very glad that in this
room there are people who
feel that to be responsible
means also a moral duty to
give back a part of their success,” said Kiska, who himself as a successful businessman launched the Good Angel philanthropic project.
In total 61 companies enrolled in the competition for
the 2014 Via Bona awards in
seven categories. Juries for
individual awards selected
winners from 23 companies
which had advanced to the
second round. A novelty this
year was a new design for the
award prepared by Mikuláš
Zahatňanský, who created a
wooden circle garnished
with stars from silver wire.
The circular shape of the
award is meant to express
human life and the stars represent people’s zest for things
that are bigger than themselves.
The Main Award for a Responsible Large Corporation
went to Accenture, a management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. The firm
works to develop people’s
skills, helping them to find
jobs via its Skills to Succeed
programme. It also uses
computer technologies to
decrease its environmental
Via Bona awards ceremony.
footprint and is part of the
Fund for Transparent Slovakia that supports watchdog
organisations.
“All the companies in the
final round showed high
standards and thus differences were in nuances and
not qualitative jumps,” said
Zuzana Čaputová from the
jury when commenting
about the process of selecting
the winner in this category.
“In the end we considered
that the criterion that would
decide about the winner is
about what message we want
to send to the society by
granting this award to this
company. We consider as interesting and inspiring that
the company chose a path,
which is not the simplest,
maybe to the detriment of
their profits, but it sends by
this a principal message from
the company itself to zero
tolerance of corruption.”
The Main Award for a Responsible Small or MediumSized Enterprise went to
Banská Bystrica-based Alfa
Bio that started its business
in 1991 with the idea of helping to change dietary habits
in Slovakia and it now sells its
products in Slovakia, the
Czech Republic, Hungary and
Poland. The company,with
tofu as one of its main
products, has its own well,
recycles its water and operates its own compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station
for its cars.
Changing perceptions
Lenka Surotchak, director
of the Pontis Foundation,
said that the perception of
corporate philanthropy and
corporate social responsibility has been changing in
Slovakia with more and more
companies going beyond
their legal duties by caring
for their employees, helping
the community in which
they operate, behaving responsibly toward the environment and dealing with socially difficult topics.
“I am thankful for each
company that has enrolled in
the competition because they
understand that any company or business will be not
successful if our country and
our society are in decline,”
said Surotchak in her speech.
See VIA pg 5
Photo: Courtesy of Pontis
4
BUSINESS
April 6 – 19, 2015
Foreign investors looking elsewhere
THE POSITION of Slovakia as
an attractive country for
foreign investments in
central and eastern Europe
worsened last year based on
results of an annual survey
organised by foreign chambers of commerce in Slovakia. Slovakia slipped to the
second position while the
Czech Republic has overrun
it, finishing first. In total,
167 companies attended the
survey conducted by foreign
chambers of commerce of
Germany, Austria, US,
France, the Netherlands,
Sweden and the trade department of the Austrian
Embassy to Slovakia in February.
“In the international
competition of localities for
investments, Slovakia is still
relatively quite well,” said
Vladimír Slezák, president of
the Slovak-German Chamber
of Commerce (SNOPK), as
cited in the press release
when commenting on the
results of the survey, but
adding that it is not enough
to maintain a status quo
when Slovakia is prepared
for more intense creation of
innovation only in a limited
scope.
Investors explain
worsening of Slovakia’s
ranking by pointing out that
while the Czech Republic
has focused on infrastructure projects and efforts to
curb bureaucracy, Slovakia
has introduced the minimum tax, and increased bureaucracy and labour costs.
Moreover, as most companies have their parent companies in Austria and Germany, the geographic position of the Czech Republic is
more favourable compared
to that of Slovakia.
When listing Slovakia’s
advantages surveyed companies listed Slovakia’s
membership in the
European Union, hardworking and productive labour
force willing to work for relatively favourable costs as
well as availability and
quality of local suppliers.
Slovakia’s exports lose momentum
DURING previous years, exporters from Slovakia have
succeeded more and more to
establish themselves on foreign markets, but last year
winning of market shares
ended. The Finance Ministry’s Financial Policy Institute (IFP) sees weakening
of currencies of Slovakia’s
trade partners and curbed car
production due to modernisation and change of production lines behind Slovakia’s exports losing momentum.
“Slovakia, as a small open
economy, is significantly
dependent on foreign trade,”
Ján Šilan, analyst with IFP
wrote in his analysis from
March 25, recalling that foreign trade was a significant
source of economic growth
especially during the financial and economic crisis
when Slovakia managed to
maintain economic growth
in spite of a recession in the
eurozone.
Between 2009 and 2013
the Slovak economy grew
10.9 percent, while net export contributed to it by as
much as 9.8 percentage
points.
“Over the course of last
year the contributions of
foreign demand went down
markedly, with the contribution of exports to growth
in GDP being zero, or even
slightly negative,” Šilan
wrote.
Slovakia’s exports are relatively strongly concentrated among some sectors
where those of machinery,
appliances, cars and metals
and metal products make up
two thirds of Slovakia’s exports.
Compiled by Spectator staff
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Žilina hospital director
resigns amid crisis
BY ROMAN CUPRIK
Spectator staff
FEW expected Žilina Faculty
Hospital Director Štefan Volák
to resign on March 21 in the
wake of a mass walkout by
doctors and nurses, but he did
and hospital’s troubles have
entered a new phase.
A total of 24 of 25 nurses
decided to leave the hospital
due to an excessive number of
overtime hours while demanding that Volák resign on
March 21. They followed 13
doctors at the hospital’s internal medicine ward who had
filed their resignations in early
March in protest against what
they deemed to be cost concerns dictating patient care.
Prime Minister Robert Fico
personally engaged in the
problems surrounding the hospital and called Health Minister Viliam Čislák to sack Volák,
the PM said during a debate on
Slovak Radio on March 21.
“I contacted Minister
Čislák and told him: Mr Minister execute steps for the instant replacement of Žilina
Hospital’s head,” Fico told
Slovak Radio.
Health analysts have
agreed that Fico’s statement
amounts to little more than
populism, but also say it raises
concerns about who is really in
charge of state hospitals.
Doctors met the press after leaving announcement. Photo: TASR
“Apparently no heads of
state hospitals are autonomous in their decisions,” Tomáš
Szalay of the medical think
tank Health Policy Institute
told The Slovak Spectator. “It’s
wrong.”
Meanwhile the new hospital head Pavol Drugaj told
doctors that if they want to
leave they are free to go.
Difficult weeks for Žilina
Faculty Hospital
The hospital began making headlines after 15 of 19
doctors of at department of internal medicine handed in
their notices, citing a lack of
beds and poor hygienic conditions on March 3. Two later retracted their notices.
“There is a situation that
patients have a waiting list for
a shower and some of them
take one at around 3:00,” said
the head of the Medical Trade
Union Association (LOZ), Peter
Visolajský, to press, as quoted
by the SITA newswire. “This
department has 96 beds while
there are at least 100 patients
every day.”
Twenty-five nurses opted to
leave the hospital on March 21,
citing management’s incompetence and failure to address
problems that have been accumulating at the hospital for a
long time, said Slovak Nurses
and
Midwives
Chamber
(SKSaPA) head Iveta Lazorová.
The nurses urged the facility’s
management to cut their overtime hours and to increase the
number of nurses in the intensive care unit – as well as in the
hospital as a whole – so that the
wards can function properly.
Subsequently Čislák inquired into the situation at the
hospital in Žilina, ministry
spokeswoman
Zuzana
Čižmáriková told the TASR
newswire on the same day.
“He called on the director
to assume personal responsibility for the situation that
has arisen,” Čižmáriková said,
as quoted by TASR. “The director has complied with this
call and resigned.”
Despite Volák’s departure,
on March 23 another 39 nurses
filed their notices with the
Žilina hospital, SITA wrote,
including those from emergency and post-surgery wards.
The head of the Union of
Nurses and Midwives (OZSaPA), Monika Kavecká, specified that the reason for the
latest notices is the unsure development of the situation in
the Žilina hospital, as well as a
statement from 20 nurses
heading wards, who on March
20
supported
Margita
Porubčanská, the deputy for
nursing who allegedly had
kept lying – also to the public –
about the real situation in the
medical facility.
Drugaj met with nurses on
March 31 but the only result of
the discussion was that they
agreed on the date for another
meeting set on April 16.
See CARE pg 9
NBS: Weak euro to fuel exports
Continued from pg 1
He added that the quantitative easing (QE) launched by the European Central Bank (ECB) is likely to have a positive impact on Slovak economy in the
form of 0.4 percent GDP growth in 2015
and 0.2 percent in 2016.
Finance Minister Peter Kažimír and
Prime Minister Robert Fico perceive the
upgraded forecast as encouraging, while
the latter said that at such growth will
spur larger changes on the labour market.
“At economic growth above 3 percent we can expect a natural creation of
new work places and a reduction in the
unemployed,” Fico said, as cited by the
TASR newswire.
The NBS predicts a dynamic growth
of work places especially in the service
sector, but notes all should benefit from
the improved growth.
“Rising domestic demand also fuels
employment, which is increasing quicker than expected. We expect 22,000 jobs
to be created in 2015,” said NBS Vice Governor Ján Tóth, adding that average unemployment rate could be 12 percent in
2015 and drop to 10 percent by 2017.
Kažimír appraised the fact that the
country’s economic growth has not been
driven exclusively by foreign demand
but that the domestic demand strengthening.
“The structure of the growth is more
balanced and healthier that any time before,” he said, as cited by SITA.
NBS also expects real wages to grow
also because of negative inflation of the
-0.3 percent forecast for 2015.
“Salaries will rise quicker particularly in the health care and education
sectors and should align gradually with
labour productivity,” said Tóth. In 2015,
nominal wages are likely to grow 2.6 percent.
Reforms needed
The central bank believes that Slovakia will benefit from the ECB’s €1 trillion bond-buying programme and
Makúch is confident that the ECB will
find enough quality bonds to meet its
targeted €60 billion worth of monthly
purchases.
“We’re meeting our buying volume
targets, in terms of quality of purchased bonds,” he said.
He warned that this programme is
not any substitute for the structural
changes needed in some eurozone economies.
“In no way is QE to replace insufficient reform efforts by eurozone governments when carrying out structural
reforms and keeping rules of budgetary
responsibility,” said Makúch, “because
the EQ-supported growth of economy
will not last forever”.
Renáta Konečná, general director of
the Department of Monetary and Economic Analysis at the NBS, told public
broadcaster RTVS that these reforms
should target maintaining and improv-
ing competitiveness.
“This means that these are important reforms on the labour market and
from the viewpoint of simplicity of hiring and firing employees,” said Konečná.
“And from the viewpoint of Slovakia it is
also important to increase drawing of EU
funds which help the economy in terms
of the growth of investments and support of sustainable growth in the future.”
By the numbers
Slovakia’s GDP grew 2.4 percent in
2014. The last time Slovakia registered an
economic growth exceeding 3 percent
was in 2011.
The NBS predicts that the economy
will grow 3.2 percent in 2015 to be followed by 3.8 percent in 2016, and 3.5 percent in 2017. The unemployment rate
should decrease to 12 percent in 2015 and
continue to fall to 11.5 percent in 2016 and
10.2 percent in 2017. Employment is forecast to increase by 1.4 percent in 2015 and
during the following two years it should
continue to grow, by 1.1 percent and 0.8
percent respectively.
With the inflation rate forecast to be
negative at -0.3 percent for 2015, the
central bank assumes that prices would
resume their growth in 2016 forecasting
the inflation rate at 1.7 percent in 2016
and 2.4 percent in 2017.
Real wages should grow 2.7 percent in
2015 to be followed by growth of 2.1 percent in 2016 and 1.8 percent in 2017.
A1
www.spectator.sk
The Spectator, a lifelong affair
The Slovak Spectator at 20:
a long strange trip continues
CONSTRUCTION
Now married to the EU, Slovakia still flirts with Russia
GENERAL
On
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PARTNER
An American finds a home in
faraway Spišské Vlachy
FOCUS
Vol. 21, No. 3
Monday, February1995
9, 2015- 2015
- Sunday, February 22, 2015
.20
More independent thought
and self-confidence
for Slovakia
of this issue
The struggle
continues
Humble beginnings led
to the paper’s tenacity
An inside look
at the early days
of Slovakia’s
English-language
newspaper
BY DANIEL J. STOLL
Special to the Spectator
pand its operations in Slovakia
and my past experience in the
country was valued. At least I
knew a few Slovak words and
where the country was.
I went straight to The
Foundation’s office in Old Town
Bratislava and met Carrie
Slease, the director. After helping set up a place for me to
sleep, she said I should check
out the U.S. Embassy Independence Day party at the Hotel
Bôrik. I took a tram up windy
streets past the dirty brown
Bratislava Castle, under the
soaring WW II monument
Slavín, to a white concrete hotel
with a view towards the West,
the Danube River and Austria
beyond.
I arrived at the same time as
Mečiar and we walked in together. Mečiar had an American and Slovak flag sticking out
of his suit jacket pocket. We
both went straight to an elaborate table of food and tried the
Caspian Sea caviar. When
Kováč came a few minutes later
and shook everyone’s hand, I
watched Mečiar quietly exit. At
the time I had no idea I had just
met the President and the future Prime Minister. I also
couldn’t have known that their
political feud would shape the
fate of The Slovak Spectator.
I ARRIVED in Slovakia the
morning of July 4, 1994. By
evening I had shook hands with
Slovak Republic President
Michal Kováč, ate caviar and
crackers with Vladimir Mečiar
and exchanged small talk with
U.S. Ambassador Theodore
Russell.
A non-profit organization,
the Foundation for a Civil Society, had opened an office in
Bratislava and was looking for
people with knowledge of Slovakia. I had spent time in Slovakia as an English teacher in
1993, a witness to the creation
of a new country, new currency, and the emergence of
Slovak as an identity in Europe.
Not many Americans could
point out Slovakia on a map or
had even heard of it. Prague yes.
Slovakia? Slovenia, Yugoslavia,
Soviet Russia, whatever.
Founded by Wendy Luers, a
100 days to The Rock
human rights activist and wife
of former U.S. Ambassador to
That the newspaper is celCzechoslovakia
(1983-1986) ebrating 20 years of publishWilliam Luers, the NGO based ing where others have stopped
in Prague was looking to ex- – The Prague Post, Warsaw
Voice, Budapest Sun – is due to
the DNA that was infused into
the newspaper’s soul – tenacity.
I suppose The Slovak Spectator existed after its first 100
days because of the 100 days
that preceded its launch.
Founders Richard Lewis, Rick
Zednik and I would never have
believed we could publish an
English-language newspaper
had it not been for our experience putting together one issue of The Slovak Mirror in October 1994.
Richard, Rick, and I met for
the first time in August 1994 at
the Foundation’s headquarters
on Kapitulská Street, a crumbling cobblestone street under
the castle but cut off by a motorway that acted like a moat
between the old town and those
in power, and down the street
from St Michael’s cathedral,
where brown hooded monks
would walk below our office
window before vespers. I was
helping Carrie prepare a grant
proposal for USAID to help
provide schools across Slovakia with access to Englishlanguage teachers and books.
Richard had been in Slovakia already a year as an English teacher in the small town
of Spišské Vlachy near the
sprawling Spiš castle, the
largest castle ruin in Central
Europe, with dreams of becoming a foreign correspondent.
Richard and Carrie had gone to
Duke University together and
he was in the office that night
borrowing the computer to
THE COUNTRY we cover today is quite different from the
Slovakia of 1995, when this newspaper was published for
the first time. But can we call it “Westernised”?
Well, it does have professional election campaigns and
shopping malls. It does have the highest production of
cars per capita, but ever more of its citizens are losing
trust in its judiciary. Public awareness of the degree of
corruption is on the rise. Slovakia is still young, but
hopefully less naive than it was 20 years ago.
At the same time, many of the stories we write about this
country are not that different than they were back then.
The excluded communities, the flawed public tenders,
the populist politicians, the lagging schools and
universities, privatisation issues and their legacy.
The stories we tell about Slovakia are about a struggle to
find respect for otherness, for transparency and for
decency in administering public affairs.
The Slovak Spectator contributes to these efforts by
writing truthfully about pressing issues just as we
have done in the past.
By Michaela Terenzani, Editor-In-Chief
Timeline of The
Slovak Spectator
March 1, 1995
The debut issue of The Slovak Spectator hits newsstands
across Slovakia.
July 1996
The first Spectacular Slovakia travel guide is published.
write a story on the Spiš region’s Roma population that he
hoped to sell to an American
publication.
Rick swung by Kapitulská
that evening to gain contacts
for his new role in Bratislava to
be the stringer for The Prague
Post, a weekly newspaper
founded in Prague in 1991 with
Editor-in-Chief Alan Levy, the
legendary International Herald Tribune reporter who had
witnessed the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968,
and whose book “A Rowboat to
Prague,” inspired thousands of
young Americans to flock to
that city in the 1990s.
We had an easy chemistry
together and we enjoyed the
quick friendships with other
American and British expatriates – English teachers, diplomats, consultants in one of the
then Big 6 accounting firms,
bankers, investors, adventurous foreigners and other travellers – who bewilderingly
found themselves in Europe’s
youngest democracy. Slovakia
became its own state on January 1, 1993.
See START pg A7
September 1998
The Slovak Spectator becomes a weekly and launches its
website,
www.slovakspectator.sk (now www.spectator.sk).
October 1999
The first issue of Real Estate and Construction Guide
is published.
See TIME pg A6
Past, present,
future
ANNIVERSARIES are a time to reminisce and celebrate.
In this special 20th anniversary supplement we are
grateful to have articles from editors in chief who have
run our editorial room for some two decades as well as
memories from co-founder Daniel Stoll from this
publication’s earliest days. There is also a collection of
short opinion pieces from those who have worked with us
and now play important role in society. The supplement
also includes contributions from companies who have
cooperated with us over the long term.
Special thanks to Noer, who is the general partner for our
20th anniversary. We hope that you, our readers, enjoy
this trip down memory lane. We look forward to
continuing the mission of our predecessors and take
seriously our responsibility to bring unbiased
information about Slovakia to the international
community.
Ján Pallo, Publisher
1995-2015
A2
The Spectator, a lifelong affair
BY BEATA BALOGOVÁ
Special to the Spectator
NEWSPAPERS are forming
their authors just as profoundly as journalists are
shaping the media they work
for.This relationship far transcends limits of working contracts, number of published
stories and the years spent in
a newsroom.
Newspapers are like humans in some ways: in early
stages of their lives they seek
their voice and test their
strength. They gradually
learn how loud or how soft
that voice needs to be in order to deliver messages to help
their readers to interpret the
world, or if managed by the
wrong people, to misinterpret it. And sometimes newspapers are founded by the
wrong people for the wrong
reasons.
Since the quality of journalism so much intertwines
with human character, the
newspapers are just as honest, straightforward or fair as
the people who are making
the paper. If the pursuit to get
people’s attention fails to develop into something much
larger than stories of the individuals involved, the paper
usually sinks into oblivion.
Since the quality of
journalism so much
intertwines with human
character, the
newspapers are just as
honest, straightforward
or fair as the people who
are making the paper.
Sig Gissler, the administrator of Pulitzer Prizes, delivering his speech in Bratislava.
The past two decades suggest that The Slovak Spectator was founded at the right
time for the right reasons: to
search for the closest thing
possible to the truth during
the years of Slovakia coming
of age as a democratic country. The journey of the newspaper founded by four Americans – Eric Koomen, Richard
Lewis, Dan Stoll and Rick Zednik – in 1995, has far outgrown the original ambitions to help Englishspeaking expats survive in
Slovakia.
In the retrospective of 20
years, the newspaper has
helped groom journalists and
media professionals who later
went on to make their mark
outside this publishing house
or even the country. The Slovak Spectator has made a contribution that surpasses the
regular routine of putting out
a paper and feeding a website. It has formed journalists
who learned how to tell stories in a fashion built on the
best journalistic traditions.
Teaching the craft
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Confronted with aches of
the theory-driven journalism
education in Slovakia, The
Slovak Spectator took on board
journalism students, trained
them and sent them to the
field to experience journalism on their own skin. After
finding a sympathetic ear at
Comenius University’s department of journalism, the
newspaper even ran its own
journalism class and opened it
up for students from other
journalism schools as well.
“Graduates” of the Spectator class then took jobs with
the best media outlets in
Slovakia. Today, some are
working for the broadsheet
Sme daily, the public radio
and even for the Spectator itself. For a paper with a limited staff and resources, this is
quite an achievement. Yet,
efforts of the Spectator to
contribute to the media discourse in Slovakia are far from
ending there.
If not for The Slovak Spectator, a number of prestigious Pulitzer winning journalists and the administrator of
this respected prize may not
have found their way to Slovakia very easily, if making it to
this small central European
country at all.
With the help of the partners of the Best Media Traditions programme, the
newspaper brought in accomplished journalists who
actually have authentically
lived what many schools only
preach. They not only wrote
that big story that brought
them acclaim in America but
the world as it passes by.”
And most of them did talk
to strangers and brought back
Photo: Jana Liptáková stories that they will remember much longer than notes
also have helped to keep the copied from an outdated textfaith in the good old journ- book onto the whiteboard.
alistic principles alive and
explained why the fundaGetting personal
mentals of journalism, including the ability of talking
At the time I joined The
to people, should not change Slovak Spectator as its editoralong with technology.
in-chief in 2003, the size of the
Joshua Friedman, Tim editorial room was three
Weiner, Abigail Goldman and times the number of reportWalt Bogdanich shared much ers I left behind in January
more than just phrases about 2015 when I moved on to lead
how important the media’s the Sme daily. It did not hapwatchdog role is. Their nar- pen because the publisher Ján
ratives clearly delivered the Pallo and I felt we could do the
message that along with be- paper with very few people. It
ing fair, truthful and accur- was our response to the quesate it is equally important to tion: Do we want The Slovak
remain deeply human even in Spectator to continue despite
times when such humanity is all the limitations imposed on
lacking.
us by the development of the
print market or do we give up
and say it is no longer posThe Columbia connection
sible? Over the past six years
Students of the one of the we kept saying yes to the life
most prestigious journalism of the paper, and with the
schools of the world, the support of Petit Press CEO
Columbia University’s school Alexej Fulmek, we somehow
of journalism, felt lucky if managed year after year to
they made it to classes of Sig keep it vibrant without comGissler, the now retired ad- promising the content.
ministrator of the Pulitzer
After the departure of Tom
Prices. Yet, the Slovak Spec- Nicholson in 2007, we were no
tator made it possible for stu- longer able to do large-scale
dents in Slovakia to experi- investigative stories but we
ence the Columbia atmo- remained committed to those
sphere for at least a couple grand old principles of journhours without having to pay alism. Neither Fulmek, nor
any hefty tuition fee.
Pallo have ever questioned
Sig Gissler not only spoke that we need to do it right and
to them but even commen- keep to the rules even if some
ted on their work and ad- other media outlets were
vised them how to get the crossing the red line in order
story right in all of its im- to lure advertisers to survive.
portant details. Tell the story The year of 2014 was especlearly and use the human cially trying and it did reangle whenever possible to open the difficult question: are
make the piece come alive for we able to carry the paper and
the reader, Gissler told the the tradition further without
young journalists.
reducing it to the point where
He sent them to the streets readers will no longer find
and asked them to talk to those crucial pieces to create
strangers “because it helps you their own understanding of
spread the journalism net Slovakia. The answer was
wide. You discover story ideas, again a resounding yes and I
you
encounter
potential do genuinely wish and besources and you stay in tune lieve that it will remain so for
with your community. I do fear many more years.
that too many journalists walk
around with their eyes on their
Beata Balogová is the editorsmart phones, thus missing in-chief of the Sme daily.
www.spectator.sk
1995-2015
A3
The Slovak Spectator at 20: a
long strange trip continues
Principled
ownership is the
only recipe for
journalistic
freedom
BY TOM NICHOLSON
Special to the Spectator
LOOKING back, September
1995 probably wasn’t the most
auspicious time to take a job in
Slovakia.
The Vladimír Mečiar government had just introduced
new work permit requirements for foreigners, which
involved a lot of police documents and medical tests and
carrying around embarrassing
samples of waste. But no one –
including the police – seemed
sure of exactly how the process
should work, resulting in my
lecturing for the first three
months of my Žilina university
job as an unpaid volunteer until my permit was finally issued.
Perhaps the police were
distracted. After all, in August
1995 the son of the Slovak president had been allegedly kidnapped to Austria by the secret
service and police SWAT team
officers, so there was an investigation to be suppressed
and plenty of witnesses to be
intimidated. There was also
the explosion of organised
crime under Mečiar, which
wasn’t to be suppressed so
much as timidly ignored and
then laboriously cleaned up
after.
So it’s fair to say that Slovakia had other fish to fry and
took little notice of me or any
other English teacher in the
mid-1990s. I knew equally little
about Slovakia, except for the
tiny corner of the country represented by my school and
friends and a few Žilina running routes and bars. I lived,
uncertain of the wisdom of my
emigration, on a tiny Englishspeaking island, surrounded by
an intimidating sea of Slovakness – an alien language, unpleasant bureaucrats, an impenetrable culture and, always, dark tales of kidnapping
and murder and “state capture”
passed on by Slovak friends.
But knowing nothing
about your host country becomes oppressive, and as time
passed I started to take a closer
interest in these morbid tales.
Coming from a sleepy, nerdy
democracy like Canada, where
society works and the law is
widely respected, it took me a
long time even to believe, far
less to understand how things
worked in Slovakia.
How government ministers could simply grab the best
public assets for themselves
and their friends, paying an
made it impossible to ignore.
Maybe that would have nixed
the chance of even a brief interlude from Róbert Fico’s neooligarch reign – but it would
have been stand-up journalism.
I left the Spectator in 2007
to take a job doing investigative journalism at Sme, the
most stand-up Slovak broadsheet, followed in 2010 by a
stint at the Trend weekly. It
was a natural progression, just
as it was for many Spectator
journalists who went on to
write for AP, the Wall Street
Journal, the Financial Times
and others. It was time to submit one’s craft to the critical
eyes of a larger and far more
engaged and informed audience. But it was also a venture
Protests over the Gorilla scandal drew thousands into Slovakia’s squares.
Photo: Sme into a murkier world of inscrutable editorial decisions, of
average of 10 percent of their others who drew groans of en- had an ownership that was a journalism with a political
market worth. How a secret nui from their weary editors. journalist’s dream – two of the agenda beyond a reporter’s
service and a police leadership By a committee of diplomatic original American founders conscience.
could consort with gangsters, spouses who swooped in on stayed on, joined by former war
bartering freedom from pro- print day to gently point out reporter Alexej Fulmek, head of
Slovak media environment
secution in return for assist- the most egregious errors.
the Petit Press publisher. The
ance with sordid tasks that
How often I wished, in only limitations on what storThese days, with adverteven Mečiar’s henchmen re- those early months, that I ies we covered and how we told ising in deep decline, ownerfused to perform. How a ruling knew more about journalism, them lay in the stuff between ship and flak are the only of
coalition could sabotage the or that there was a benign our ears. I know how many media critic Noam Chomsky’s
country’s chance of Western Lowell Bergman character to at journalists claim the same, but five filters still shaping how
integration, flirt with Yeltsin’s least teach me the ropes. I eight years after leaving the the Slovak media cover stories.
Russian kleptocracy, and op- made egregious mistakes, like Spectator, I realise how good And what a dispiriting, aggressive group these owners
press democratic opposition at dismissing an Up With People we had it.
concert as “cultural onanism”,
I know, for example, that are! Oligarchs dominate, from
home.
And how all of this could and bitterly regretted the had I remained at the Spectat- the mercurial Ivan Kmotrík at
happen without voters filling youthful arrogance it betrayed. or, the Gorilla file would have the TA3 news channel, to SlovI constantly wished I spoke the been reported years before it akia’s richest man, Andrej
the streets in protest.
language better, to be more actually appeared in the Slovak Babiš at the Hospodárske Novsure of my quotes; or that I press. We would have been iny business daily. The J&T
Joining the Spectator
knew the country better, to sued, and – worse – ignored by financial group, with roots in
I learned much of what I have a surer sense of context. I the rest of the Slovak media es- Mečiar-era crony privatizatablishment. But we would tion, controls the JOJ TV staneeded to know from The Slov- was often ashamed.
But that shame was a con- have written the story, and not tion, while their counterparts
ak Spectator, a schizophrenic
bi-weekly torn between re- stant lash to improve. And as a hidden the file in a safe until its at Penta own the Trend busiporting the full truth of first experience in journalism, publication on the internet ness weekly, the Pluska tabloid
Mečiar’s excesses, and pulling the Spectator was an awesome
its punches in order to attract apprenticeship. There was so ADVERTISEMENT
at least some advertising. In much going on in Slovakia –
early 1997 they announced they bizarre, wrong-headed, evil
were looking for freelancers, and faintly comic at the same
and without any great serious- time – that you didn’t dream of
ness – since I was destined to be embellishing it. You facta Great Writer, after all, not a checked because you yourself
hack – I applied. And in doing so couldn’t quite believe you had
discovered the greatest pro- the facts right. There were no
fession of them all.
puff pieces, no corporate PR
What an odd bunch they posing as news, because the
were. Four Americans in their business community was
mid-20s, serious as only young largely Mečiar-positive, and
men can be when starting their regarded us with deep suspifirst company. Two of them cion. We worked with the pastrove mightily to keep the pa- per’s owners, and debated edper afloat while the other two itorial decisions freely. No
laboured to understand the stories were spiked: on the
country whose turmoil they contrary,
after
Mečiar
chronicled. They were suppor- thwarted a referendum on
ted by a Slovak deputy editor NATO membership in 1998, the
with waist-length red hair, a paper toughened its criticism
penchant for drinking beer at through editorials that put us
work, and a loathing of Mečiar on the “black list” of media the
that frequently poisoned his government refused to compen. By a blue-eyed, blonde municate with.
sales executive with a practiced knack for reeling in cliLeaving the Spectator
ents. By a quietly anguished 16year-old with formidable
Apart from a brief stint
journalism skills and a mother back in Canada in 2003-2004, I
in jail. By a rotating cast of spent a decade with the Specfreelancers, some of whom tator,
even
(improbably)
wrote humblingly well, and serving as publisher. The paper
The only limitations on
what stories we covered
and how we told them
lay in the stuff between
our ears.
weekly and daily, the news
portal aktualne.sk, as well as a
minority stake in Petit Press,
which publishes the Sme daily
and The Slovak Spectator. The
largest tabloid, Nový Čas, is
nominally still independent,
but publisher Peter Mertus departed last December to head
Penta’s media operations. The
Pravda daily, meanwhile, was
marketed by oligarch Jozef Brhel, close to Prime Minister
Róbert Fico’s Smer party.
Even the start-up Projekt
N, led by Sme defectors, is controlled by the Eset international software company,
while the small-market weekly
Týžden has allegedly been financed by Penta since 2009, according to sources at Penta.
I understand how tired
people must be of journalists
grousing about their lot. Of laments for the golden era, and
imprecations to consider again
how important vibrant journalism is for a healthy democracy. The world is changing,
and we must all find our places
in it. In that changed world,
there are a few things that
provide hope. Alexej Fulmek is
one of them.
See TRIP pg A6
SP015029/015
1995-2015
A4
Now married to the EU,
Slovakia still flirts with Russia
BY RICK ZEDNÍK
Special to the Spectator
START-UP companies always
find achieving success to be a
struggle. Even more so when
that company is an independent newspaper in a country
with no tradition of free enterprise or free press. When my
partners and I published the
first issue of The Slovak Spectator in March 1995, we hoped
we would still be publishing in
March 1996. Aside from a new
venture’s normal concerns,
the political and economic environment meant that sticking around for even 12 months
was far from certain.
The state of affairs in Slovakia at that time was dark. The
government
of
Vladimír
Mečiar was actively wooing
Russian security cooperation
and investment. This was in
stark contradiction to the government’s public rhetoric of
seeking integration with
European and trans-Atlantic
structures.
On June 27, 1995, Slovakia
submitted its formal application to join the European Union. The outlook should have
been rosy.
But incredibly, just two
months later, the adult son of
then-President Michal Kováč
was abducted, beaten, forced
to drink whisky, stuffed into a
car, smuggled across the border, and dumped in front of an
Austrian police station. It was
widely speculated that Slovakia’s secret police were involved in an effort to discredit
the president, who was in an
ongoing dispute with Mečiar.
There was no serious investig-
Former prime minister Vladimír Mečiar with Babky Demokratky.
Photo: Sme
porters over 70 who loved the
prime minister for his quick
lawyerly mind, his strong advocacy of an independent
Slovakia, and his rugged good
looks. These were the Babky
Demokratky. My grandmother
was one of them. When
watching the prime minister
on television, she would frequently say, “My god. He’s a
looker”. So you can imagine
my grandmother’s dilemma
when Slovenská Republika ran
a big article about The Slovak
Spectator titled, “Against the
Government Coalition”. They
were challenging my Babka
Demokratka
to
choose
between her grandson and her
hero! But more than familial
allegiances were tested. It was
one of many tactics intended
to discredit any independent
voices.
Where Slovakia’s application to join the EU was widely
welcomed in capitals from
Berlin to Brussels and Washington, and should have been
cause for encouragement, instead, events on the ground
raised serious concerns.
Slovakia was hit with a
diplomatic double whammy.
On October 25, 1995, the EU issued a demarche. And two days
later, in a show of support, the
US also issued a demarche.
Their message was clear: Even
though Slovakia was not big,
rich or powerful, western alliances were willing to give it a
shot. But if Slovakia were to
join the EU or NATO, its leadership had to conform to certain norms.
Feeling spurned, however,
its leadership did the opposite.
Mečiar tied Slovakia’s future
ever more to that of Russia,
with deals on energy and defence. As a result, the fear that
Slovakia would be excluded
when its neighbours would
soon join the EU and NATO became palpable inside and outside the country. And this
contributed to the vicious
cycle, with foreign investors
unwilling to risk capital on a
country with such uncertain
prospects.
At that moment, many
Slovaks’ dream of EU membership and its benefits –
greater freedoms to study and
work abroad, foreign direct
investment to bring jobs, opportunities to trade more easily across borders, and structural funds for improved infrastructure – was in serious
jeopardy.
ation into who committed the
act. Then a supposed witness
was killed when his car suddenly exploded while turning
a bend in Bratislava. Again, no
serious investigation.
The intimidation tactics
extended even to our little
newspaper. Our balanced coverage of events in the country
was perceived by the government as a threat because our
audience of 5,000 readers included western diplomats and
journalists watching Slovakia.
Many of the most loyal
readers of the government’s
mouthpiece
newspaper,
Slovenská Republika, were
said to be female Mečiar sup-
ADVERTISEMENT
SP015026/007
Then, a remarkable thing
happened. The diplomatic and
economic pressure mobilised a
segment of the population.
Young people, unhappy with
their prospective future, organised to choose the forces
they wanted in power. In
September 1998, Mečiar’s
party came less than 1 percent
ahead of the main opposition
party. When Mečiar couldn’t
form a government, a new coalition came to power. The
government
of
Mikuláš
Dzurinda stated its unequivocal intent to join the EU and
NATO.
It had to watch with regret
when six months later its
neighbours the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary joined
NATO together.
Slovakia’s first invitation
to an exclusive club came in
December 2000, when the
country joined the Organisation of Economic Co-operation
and Development, the global
group of wealthy nations. The
government could point to
tangible results.
But perhaps the best news
for the government’s chances
for a second term came just
months before the 2002 general election. It had nothing to do
with politics, and it happened
in Sweden. For the first time
ever, Slovakia won the world
championship in its national
sport of ice hockey. Slovaks felt
like winners. The Dzurinda
government was rewarded
with re-election.
Over the next two years,
two major car manufacturers,
Peugeot-Citroën and Kia, announced plans to invest €1.7
billion and create 5,800 jobs in
the country. They did so because by this time, EU membership was becoming inevitable.
In March 2004, Slovakia
was one of seven countries to
join NATO. Barely a month
later, it was one of 10 countries
to be celebrated in Brussels as
new EU members.
Slovakia had crossed the
finishing line of accession at
the same time as its neighbours. But the longer race was
not over.
In December 2007, Slovakia joined the so-called
Schengen zone of border-free
travel. A year after that, on
January 1, 2009, Slovakia became just the second postcommunist country, after
Slovenia, to adopt the euro as
its currency. Six years later,
the Czech Republic, Poland,
and Hungary have still not adopted the currency and remain
unlikely to do so for years to
come.
Many promises of EU
membership have been fulfilled.
Unemployment
dropped. Inflation stabilised.
Per capita GNP rose at a higher
rate than it had been rising
previously. And Slovakia be-
Things can change. It
takes people assuming
control of their fate. And
it can be done through
diplomacy and
negotiation.
came one of the world’s most
internationally
integrated
economies.
But energy security remains a major concern. A legacy that none of Slovakia’s
leaders has been able to alter is
the fact that 100 percent of the
country’s gas comes from
Russia. This dependency has
caused current Prime Minister
Robert Fico to be more cautious than most of his EU
counterparts on sanctioning
Russia for its involvement in
Ukraine.
Will that mean Slovakia is
soft on Russia when it assumes
the rotating presidency of the
EU on July 1, 2016? A general
election in Slovakia in March
next year will leave much uncertain until the eve of the
presidency.
Slovakia’s story is one of
success. But as The Slovak
Spectator celebrates its 20th
anniversary this month and I
look back, the country’s success was far from assured two
decades ago. A small country of
modest means, Slovakia was
an underdog. It had to overcome bad management and
poor decisions, and carefully
choose its allies. As long as
Russia stumbled through the
late 1990s and the 2000s, that
choice was not difficult. But
with Russia flexing its
muscles, and Slovakia in a position of having more to lose,
the choices may become more
difficult.
What are the lessons?
Things can change. It takes
people assuming control of
their fate. And it can be done
with diplomacy and negotiation.
Through hard work, ideas
that seem fanciful can become
reality. Only in our wildest
dreams did my co-founders of
The Slovak Spectator imagine
we might one day see a celebration of the paper’s 20th anniversary. I’m so pleased that
this is exactly what we are celebrating this month in Bratislava.
Rick Zedník was a co-founder
of The Slovak Spectator. He is now
CEO of EurActiv.com, the EU
policy news network, in Brussels,
and he is the author of “A Country
Lost, Then Found: Discovering My
Father’s Slovakia”.
1995-2015
www.spectator.sk
A5
An American finds a home in
faraway Spišské Vlachy
BY RICHARD LEWIS
Special to the Spectator
MY FIRST real introduction to
Slovakia – the moment when I
realised I was going to be here
awhile – was when a portly,
middle-aged man and his
daughter with dyed-blonde
hair and overdone make-up
picked me up in their dusty,
well-travelled car.
That was late August 1993,
and I had arrived a few days
earlier, in the second wave of
teachers recruited by the wellintentioned but misnamed
outfit “Education for Democracy”. The three-day, incountry orientation was more
of a coddling exercise – expatriates hanging out with expatriates, mostly – and so
when I squeezed myself in the
back of the father-daughter
vehicle somewhere in downtown Bratislava, I knew there
was no turning back.
I vaguely knew where I
was going, and really little
more. The place was Spišské
Vlachy, I had been told in a
letter I received one spring day
while working in a congressional office in Washington,
DC. I would live with a family.
And, I would teach English at
some school there for one
year. That was all I knew.
I did not know the language. I did not have any family ties or ancestral roots. I did
not have any real reason to
have chosen Slovakia, other
than the unremarkable fact
that I spoke English and was at
the ripe young age to be pining for an adventure.
I did buy a map and I studied it long and hard before I
left America. As I pored over it,
I wondered about my destination. Spišské Vlachy seemed
to be a dot in the hills, and definitely a long way from any
city I had ever heard of.
After a five-hour journey
in the car marked exclusively
by awkward silence (I spoke
no Slovak; they spoke no English), we arrived in Spišské
Vlachy and pulled up to a wellappointed, two-storey house,
located nearly on the outskirts
of town. Within moments, a
bespectacled, beaming woman burst out the front door
and greeted me, saying
“Reetchard!” She embraced
me, kissed me once on each
cheek and led me by the arm
into the home. Inside, she
presented me with slippers,
and motioned me into a spotless room furnished with a
dining table, some glass cabinets with fine china and
glassware and a white, furry
throw rug that I later learned
was the hide of the family dog.
There I was feted like a
king, served meat and potatoes and given vodka in a
thimble-shaped glass that was
Richard Lewis with Spišské Vlachy in the background.
never allowed to go completely empty. All the while,
my Slovak mother buzzed
around me – serving more
meat here, another helping of
potatoes there, a splash of
vodka for good measure – attending to me so intently that
I began to feel embarrassed.
And, so my first evening
ended under the roof of the
Repašská rodina, my Slovak
family, swaddled in love and
hospitality, for someone they
barely knew.
My first day at Spišské
Vlachy’s cirkevná základná
škola (elementary school)
began with all eyes – children
and teachers – fixed on me. I
was the lone foreigner, the
curiosity who had appeared to
teach 6th-8th graders at a
Catholic school in this village
of 3,500 people.
My first day, the children
in each of my classes stood at
attention next to their desks
when I entered the classroom.
I didn’t know how to react.
Then, one by one, they
marched forward and asked
me for my autograph.
If the teachers were similarly awed, they didn’t show
it. But they did ask a lot of
questions as I learned to properly sip so-called Turecká káva
(Turkish coffee) in the narrow
room that functioned as the
teachers’ lounge. Politics.
Race relations. Popular culture. Sports.
The regular faculty meetings were convivial affairs,
less about school business
than opportunities to celebrate birthdays, meniny (name
days), milestones or to swap
gossip, in school or heard
around town. Frequently, we
sang: Spiš dialect tunes, such
as “Hej Macejko” or, on birthdays, a song that I think was a
fusion of Spiš and Russian,
“Živio, živio, živio … mnoga
leta, mnoga leta...”
In the evenings, I taught
two adult classes, one for be-
ginners and one for “advanced” speakers. One student in my advanced class,
Ondrej Záhorňadský, regularly invited me to join him for
čapované pivo (draft beer) at
one of several local krčmy, a
ploy, I knew, to squeeze me for
extra English-language practice. Naturally, I was thrilled
to oblige him.
Ondrej
was
from
Margecany, a village just
down the train line, on the
way to Košice. One time, when
I visited him in his hometown, he told me a secret: The
public phone at the train station was broken, and you
could make calls for free. I
dialed the United States, and
the call sailed through. I
couldn’t believe my luck: I had
found the Magic Phone of
Margecany. For a few weeks,
the orange phone at the train
station was my new best
friend, a lifeline for my homesick soul to reach out and
touch family and friends far
away.
Another lifeline came
from a Repašský son, Pavol,
and his wife, Klaudia, who
lived next door. They frequently came over for dinner,
and Klaudia would patiently
suture my butchered Slovak,
while her young daughters
would play games with me
that further aided my learning the language. When I felt
particularly unmoored, they’d
invite me over to their home,
and I would vegetate watching cartoons in English.
Two of the Repašský
brothers, Pavol and Marián,
were outdoors enthusiasts,
and one of their passions was
rock climbing. So, barely a
week after I had arrived, Pavol
invited me to do some climbing at a nearby outcrop called
Dreveník. I had no idea what I
was in for, but I did know one
thing: I had a healthy fear of
heights. So, here I was on an
early fall morning, getting
Photo: Archive of Richard Lewis
roped in and staring straight
up a 70-foot stone face, with
Pavol beckoning me to get
moving. Fear swallowed, I
began my ascent. Many dodgy
steps later, I reached the top,
and boy, what a view! Spišský
hrad (Spiš Castle) toward one
horizon, the foothills to the
Tatry at another, and gently
rolling, green hills all around.
Thank you, Pavol.
Perhaps that steeled my
confidence enough to climb
another
rock
face
–
Gerlachovský štít (peak), the
mother of all Tatry – the next
summer, with my good pal
from Bardejov, Robbie Morrison. But that’s another
story.
What is a story for now is
one of the unique cultural
rites of passage that I was able
to witness, the zabíjačka. This
came about thanks to a fellow
teacher, Ján Furman, who was
one of the few younger teachers (and males) at the school.
So, on a raw morning in February, I disembarked from
perhaps the most ordinary
train I had ridden, in darkness, squinting for signs of his
hamlet as the pencil-thin
light of the train faded into the
pre-dawn.
The zabíjačka was truly an
occasion I will never forget.
Yes, it is a pig killing. Yes, it is
bloody, brutal, gory. I have the
pictures to prove it. But, no, it
is not wanton, it is not cruel,
and it is not gratuitous, at
least in my book. That pig had
been bred, cared for, nurtured,
to be Ján’s family’s meat supply for the year. They had
raised it with attention and
treated it with respect.
I witnessed (and took part
in, as I was one of four people
involved) the whole affair,
from the pistol that shot a steel
bolt to the pig’s forehead to
stun it, to the shaving of the
hair, to the cutting of the body
parts, to the threading of the
entrails for sausage. We
worked hard, and we worked
solemnly, for hours, until,
when it was well into evening,
and we had finished, we paid
our respects with a formal
dinner that included some of
the tastiest parts of the animal.
Experiences during that
year – memories gained from
that year – are seared in my
memory, nostalgic fragments
that, together, create a richly
illustrative mosaic in my
mind.
I lived four more years in
Slovakia – a transcendent time
I did not have any real
reason to have chosen
Slovakia, other than the
unremarkable fact that I
spoke English and was at
the ripe young age to be
pining for an adventure.
that revolved largely around
co-founding The Slovak
Spectator. Sometimes, I
wonder whether I would’ve
left Slovakia after that first
year, like nearly everyone
else in that teaching programme, and missed that
once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity with the Spectator – if
it hadn’t been for Spišské
Vlachy, for the Repašskýs, for
the Spiš region that I briefly
called home.
The last time I visited
Slovakia was in 2005, for the
10th anniversary of the Spectator’s beginning. I tacked on
a few extra days to that trip,
and ever the prodigal son,
made my way east, to Spišské
Vlachy. The visit was fulfilling, but too brief.
Pani Repašská dropped me
off at the train station. With
her fingers, she etched a sign
of the cross on my forehead.
“Môj zlatý,” she said, “this will
always be home for you.”
Richard Lewis is a co-founder
and former editor-in-chief of The
Slovak Spectator.
ADVERTISEMENT
The Slovak Spectator, thank you for working with us all these years.
Happy 20th Anniversary!
Leaders For
What’s Next
www.amrop.sk
www.jeneweingroup.com
www.aesc.org
SP015003/002
1995-2015
A6
More independent thought
and self-confidence for Slovakia
really hard to stop leaving
some behind because of their
socio-economic background,
which often translates into
poor school performance. And
we also need to provide much
better incentives and possibilities for academic achievement for the outstanding ones.
Did you expect Slovakia to be where
it is today when you founded the
paper 20 years ago?
Erik Koomen, one of TSS
co-founders
When we founded The
Slovak Spectator we recognized we may not stay in Slovakia forever. Therefore our
primary commitment was to
ensure that the Spectator
would continue on long after
our departure. I am proud that
this goal was accomplished,
and done so with predominantly Slovak staff and management. This supports my
experience with the high
quality of the Slovak workforce which has a lot to do with
Slovakia’s success since its
founding.
itical affiliation with democracies of a western-European
type. When it comes to domestic policy, we are facing
crucial reforms in health care,
but especially reform of the
education system. Education is
the foundation of every modern and successful society.
Coping with changing demographics and an ageing population is yet another challenge. Last but not least, we are
still waiting for political representation which would stop
telling people that the state or
someone else will take care of
them, but rather initiates citizens’ trust and self-confidence
instead. Businesspeople are
not the enemies of employees,
but rather their allies.
Juraj Draxler, Minister of
Education, former Spectator
writer
From my perspective, the
The Slovak Spectator has been covering Slovakia for 20 years. Dur- most important challenge for
ing that time, the country has been Slovakia is obviously the eduthrough tremendous changes, but
there still remains room for improvement. Which one of the challenges that Slovakia faces today do
you consider of major importance
from your perspective?
Alexej Fulmek, head of
the Petit Press publishing
house
Every community, in every
corner of the world, has plenty
of challenges. At this time, in
this geographical location and
this country, the biggest challenge is to maintain its geopol-
cation system. We have some
great teachers, some great
schools and great scientists
and on average we do relatively well, whether you look at
PISA rankings or other comparatives. We are good in the
middle. But we need to work
manded by the EU has helped
some but simply being able to
travel and learn by example is
doing a great deal. And then
there are independent serious
media, like The Slovak Spectator. Let’s hope Slovakia is
lucky enough for it to continue
to thrive and open the minds of
those that will shape Slovakia’s future.
Lukáš Fila, head of the N
Press publishing house,
Miroslav Beblavý, MP
former Spectator writer
Why aren’t there more and member of Sieť party,
whistle blowers that report former Spectator writer
The biggest challenge facorruption and maladminiscing Slovakia is how to deal
with being a normal country.
In the past, Slovaks have
shown tremendous dynamism
and ability to sacrifice for a
better future for themselves
and their children. As a result,
we have become a fairly normal European country, though
tration? Why do new doctors poorer, more corrupt and more
adopt all the bad habits of their regionally imbalanced than
predecessors and why are ef- European averages. Those
forts to improve the health- problems do not lend themcare sector so slow? Why are selves to simple solutions or
funds allocated for projects like heroic sacrifices. There are also
Roma integration so often
blocked by insane bureaucracy
and then spent on nonsense?
Partly because there is still too
little independent thought in
Slovakia. It seems obvious that
the government will not be
able to solve most of today’s
challenges. It’s up to the people
that deal with the challenges no easy solutions to copy from
on a daily basis. Once more abroad in health care, educajudges, teachers and doctors tion or politics. We have to find
learn not only to think and act our own way, based on 25 years
for themselves, but to demand of learning. What we need to
that they be given the freedom achieve is a new generation of
to do so, there is a great chance leaders that are both resolute
for improvement. How do we and patient, pragmatic but deget there? Education is part of termined to deliver change,
the answer – critical thought knowledgeable about the
and free debate need to get world but comfortable in the
more attention in schools. We most remote village of our
need to continue to learn from country. I would not be in
the outside world. The institu- politics if I did not believe we
tional and legal framework de- can do it.
December 1999
The first issue of Book of Lists is published.
February 2000
The first issue of Career and Employment Guide
is published.
February 2001
The first issue of Investment Advisory Guide is published.
May 2001
The Rock, s.r.o. becomes part of the German-Slovak
publishing house Petit Press, a.s. as it takes over
a 75 percent share of the company.
November 2011
The Slovak Spectator, in cooperation with the Petit
Academy, the Tatra Banka Foundation and Comenius
University, launches the Best Media Traditions
programme to bring a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
to speak every year before the Slovak public.
April 2012
The Slovak Spectator is awarded the Via Bona prize for
Socially Responsible Market Impact, in particular for its
education project Get Trained and Then Get Published.
April 2014
The Slovak Spectator is awarded the Via Bona Main Award
for a Responsible Small or Medium-Sized Enterprise, for
its CSR programmes.
September 2014
Travel guide Spectacular Slovakia is published for the first
time in a 300-page book format with a new modern
design.
January 2015
The Slovak Spectator launched its new website.
The Slovak Spectator received one of the main Via Bona
Photo: Courtesy of Pontis Foundation
awards in 2014.
TRIP: Change is inevitable
ADVERTISEMENT
Continued from pg A3
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SP015037/002
31.3.2015 15:05
Having managed with
Slovak owner Peter Vajda to
fight off Penta’s 2014 acquisition bid, and forcing them into
minority ownership of Sme
and The Slovak Spectator, Fulmek and Vajda continue to
wage a battle that is probably
ultimately doomed, and has
been fought at an enormous
loss to Sme’s journalistic corps.
But that has proven enough to
hold the pass, for now.
I’ve known Alexej since
2000, when his Petit Press first
bought a stake in the Spectator. He has immense faith in his
own talents and an equal disdain for numskulls. He runs
the largest publishing house in
the country as a meritocracy
with himself astride it, a place
where talent redeems but disloyalty disqualifies.
He was the one who in 2012
published my book on the Gorilla scandal – for all that he
grieved for his friends on the
political right wing that it hurt
– and it was he who defended it
against multiple lawsuits filed
by Penta and others. It was
Alexej who fended off Penta’s
attempt to take over Sme, despite the departure of more than
50 Sme journalists to found
Projekt N. He staked his career
and reputation on it, gifting
Sme years of life as the Penta
vultures circled. And it is because of his belief in committed journalism that The Slovak
Spectator has survived its 20th
anniversary.
Coda
it revealed about how politics is
really conducted, but because it
has not resulted in any indictments, far less jail terms for
traitorous politicians and oligarchs. A grave injustice unpunished is often more harmful than the original wrong itself.
I doubt that the Spectator
will survive another 20 years,
or even that Sme will endure.
But many of us who were there
in the lean years will find a
place wherever we can still tell
the truth. I will, and so will my
editor Dan Borský, who – after
I got beat up in January 1998 by
assailants the police believed
were secret service – slung an
arm around my shoulders,
plunked a beer in front of me
and turned up the radio as I
blubbered.
And then we got back to the
work of reporting the news.
Those early Spectator years
are gone, and their stirring enthusiasm too. Mečiar was defeated, Slovakia joined the EU
and NATO – but without another fort to capture, it’s as if
the vision of what an independent Slovakia could be has
Tom Nicholson works as a rebeen lost.
Much of this is due to Gor- porter and commentator at the Sme
illa, not so much through what daily
1995-2015
www.spectator.sk
A7
The team of The
Slovak Spectator
after 20 years
Nataša Ďuričová and a monk
in 2010.
The TSS team in 1995: from left, bottom row: Danka Ledgerwood (Hašková), Simona Gould
(Sedláková), Joanna Mišenková (daughter of Dalia Raymundo), Dano Borský, Tom Reynolds;
middle row: David Keats, Sara Garcia; top row: Dan Stoll, Richard Lewis, Zuzana Pavlíková,
Marián Hitka, Andrea Dudík (Lorinczová), Eric Koomen, Rick Zedník
Ján Pallo,
Publisher
Michaela Terenzani,
Editor-In-Chief
Jana Liptáková,
Managing Editor
Radka Minarechová,
Staff Writer & Project Manager
The TSS team joining volunteer
activities in 2014.
The TSS team in 2010: from left,bottom row: Jana Liptáková, Beata Balogová, Ján Pallo, Zuzana Vilikovská; top row: Donald Spatz, Tatiana
Štrauchová, Marta Fukasová, Michaela Terenzani, Roman Král, Martina Mišíková, Dáša Košútová, Beata Fojtíková, James Thomson
START: Early days full of adrenaline
Zuzana Vilikovská,
Staff Writer
Roman Cuprik,
Staff Writer
Benjamin Cunningham,
Senior Editor
Raub Murray,
Copy Editor
Tom Nicholson,
Special Contributor
Beata Balogová,
Special Contributor
Peter Adamovský,
Freelancer
Erik Rédli,
Freelancer
Jozef Hámorský, Circulation
Manager & Sales Executive
Beata Fojtíková,
Sales Executive
Continued from pg A1
The three of us also shared dreams of
becoming journalists.
Rick had the most bylines and the education credentials, having graduated from
Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Richard had a ravenous appetite for
writing and a few years in Washington DC
working as a press secretary for a congressman and the Saudi embassy. My experience lay at my college newspaper The
Oswegonian as the sports editor and news
reporter, a few college writing awards and
an internship at a Rochester, New York TV
station.
We were hired by Slovak entrepreneur Dušan Polakovič to continue publishing his project, an English-language
monthly called The Slovak Mirror. We
worked in a tiny office on Hviezdoslovo
Square, down the street from the Slovak
National Theatre and the American Embassy. As badly as I had wanted to write and
be a reporter, I drew the short straw and
became the “Business Manager”, in charge
of helping Dušan find advertising, build
subscriptions and transfer the newspaper’s electronic files to the printer.
Rick and Richard became co-editors
and encouraged me to write a few stories
if I had time. Even though I wasn’t an editor in name, I spent countless hours with
Rick and Richard helping figure out story
ideas and laying out the paper with Rick
using Quark Express. This was going to be
the fourth edition of The Slovak Mirror
after Dušan had published three issues
earlier that spring until his editor quit and
he hired us. We had the pivotal Slovak
election of 1994 to report on as well as the
introduction of Slovakia’s first fast food
joint, not McDonald’s, but Chicken Treat,
which didn’t last long.
I wrote about Slovak-American Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the
moon, who gave a guest lecture at
Comenius University, as well as the Slovak national hockey team’s quest to climb
out of Group C and join the Czech Republic in Group A. The Slovaks were incensed
by the International Ice Hockey Federation’s decision to dump the Slovak team
into the lowest group with the likes of Japan, Great Britain and France after the split
up of Czechoslovakia while the Czechs
were placed with the traditional hockey
powers of Canada, the USA, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
As Business Manager, I also saw first
hand the revenues that could be made
through advertising: 90,000 crowns or
about $3,000 for a full-page ad! Considering Dušan offered the three of us $300 per
month and had four pages of ads in our October issue, it wasn’t hard to do the math
and see how publishing could be good
business.
We put in ridiculously long hours
writing, editing and laying the paper out.
At the end of these long nights we would
stumble into an underground pub and
meet our friends for a brew or two, then do
it again the next day and night. We were
also busy promoting our efforts to the expat community and there was much excitement being generated with the help of
the American Chamber of Commerce and
its members, as well as the diplomatic
community.
October 6 we said the paper would be
available. Except it wasn’t. Delays with
printing we were told by Dušan. It would
be published on October 10. Except it
wasn’t. Dušan had the contacts with the
advertisers, the printer and the distributors so we were dependent on his word.
It was a bit surreal. He kept promising
the paper would be printed the next day.
We kept telling the expat community that
the paper would be published the next day
and it kept on not being true.
Then Dušan did not pay us when he
said he would and we lost contact with
him. No paper, no pay, no idea what was
going on. As the days grew shorter in October, our pride, our credibility, our belief
in The Slovak Mirror, became damaged
beyond repair. It was humbling.
But we had felt the adrenaline of publishing. We had produced a newspaper together even though it didn’t exist on actual paper yet. An idea started to germinate in each of us: Did we need Dušan to do
this? Could we do this on our own?
Beverly Douglas was the founder and
president of the American Chamber of
Commerce (AmCham) in Slovakia and a
huge supporter of our efforts to publish the
newspaper. It’s easy to see why from her
business point of view that an Englishlanguage newspaper would signal to potential foreign investors that a vibrant
foreign community existed. And the
newspaper would provide critical reporting on business and politics in a language
they could read. She was also our friend –
funny, foul-mouthed, generous, passionate.
At a dinner she hosted at her apartment in a 11-storey tower in Dúbravka, a
Bratislava suburb, Rick, Richard and I plus
other expat friends debated the viability of
going off on our own. As the evening drew
to an end way past midnight, we were
toasting Slivovica to our assured success.
We just needed a business plan. We had the
belief!
Daniel J. Stoll is one of the co-founders of
The Slovak Spectator. He lives in Jersey City, NJ
with his wife Reni and son Mark (age 13). He
works for Rutgers, The State University of New
Jersey as director of communications at Rutgers Business School. Along with founder Eric
Koomen, Daniel still maintains ownership in
The Slovak Spectator along with Petit Press, the
majority shareholder.
A8
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QUOTE
OF THE WEEK:
OPINION / NEWS
OPINION / NEWS
“You scold us 364 days in a year so we decided to make fun of you today.”
Defence Minister Martin Glváč’s comment during a fake April 1 press conference after he
“I wish chicken
our education
sectorwas
hadfound
the same
efficiency
as the
exchange
of
presented a piece of camouflaged
he claimed
in the
ministry’s
food
supplies.
QUOTE
OF THE WEEK: education ministers has had in recent months.”
WEB: Hard to limit hate talk
NEW: Pellegrini named after
Paška is forced out
President Andrej Kiska said while appointing new Education Minister
Juraj Draxler, the third to serve since July.
Continued from pg 2
The police however do not
prosecute authors of this extremist material so it is questionable how the police work,
accordingContinued
to Róbert from
Mihály,
and said he does not see it as a
pg 1a
Along with a law to limit
member of the initiative.
sign that Paška is necessarily shell companies in public
“Just open
the speaker
Facebook,
done in politics.
tenders, the protesters also
The new
there are hundreds of such
The scandal surrounding demand a law on material rePellegrini
saidtold
he would
cases there,”
Mihály
The be the CT device has also claimed sponsibility of state officials
guided
by tolerance, respect head of Zuzana Zvolenská as and a special committee overSlovak
Spectator.
seeing the investigation of the
and openness
in of
hisseven
new par- health minister.
Mihály
was one
The Piešťany Hospital of Gorilla file, a transcript purliamentary
and has
drawn
people
detained job,
by police
dura number
of op- Alexander Winter purchased porting to originate from coning a praise
March from
14 march
as he and
earlier this year a CT scanner versations between
senior
position
deputies
who said
others
confronted
a group
Forms of extremism have moved to the internet.
Photo: Sme
they believethe
that
commemorating
war the
timenew with a price tag approxim- politicians and Penta covertly
three timesashigher
thanconsider
recorded
the country’s
speaker
thebyparticipation
onSIS
Slovak
state,will
an be
allyless
of confrontNazi niseately
the extremism
a probsimilar
devices
purchased
in
intelligence
service
between
ational
than
Paška.
Germany.
lem. This affects also police fighting against extremism as
the
Czechwith
Republic.
Medicalcomplete
2005 and
2006 mainly about
“I am
readyhand,
for constructis insufficient.”
On the
other
the when
dealing
such cases,
Group
SK
won
the
criticised
the
privatisation
and sale of
ive
cooperation,”
Pellegrini
power of police is limited be- according to Oravec.
tender
facing athat
single state
property.
as amount
quoted of
byclearly
the SITA “We
causesaid,
a large
lackafter
the decision
Improving education
They also call for the end of
newswire, adding that im- competitor, the Nitra-based
extremist
content which could there is a certain line which is
proving the political culture in firm Meditecon, which offered political nominations in
be people prosecuted for is crime or at least taboo to
As a part of prevention the
health care and the election of
parliament and the credibility a price €300 lower.
placed
on
USA
servers.
Slovak
cross,”
Oravec
said.
government
should improve
of the institution are a task for
While Fico called Paška’s the Supreme Audit Office head
legislation
not
apply and Also
the voice
political
of people
exproposed
by the about
opposition.
both thedoes
ruling
majority
decision
the of
gesture
of aeducation
therethe
therefore
Slovak
authorfigures
should
be
stronger
tremism
and
point
on
the
Moreover,
they
urged
Fico
to
opposition.
statesman, which is rare in
ities struggle
to deal with
it, 120
when
fighting
with extremrepresents
viatomass
stepitdown,
according
Sme.
Of 136 deputies
present,
Slovakia,
opposition
MP Danielthreat
according
to Nociar.
ism.Lipšic
Journalists,
analysts
and
andhockey
schools,player
according
Michal
supported
Pellegrini as speakclaims that
the CT
scan-media Ice
The
police refuse
de- to
NGOs
on the
pubconcept. and
Handzuš
Zuzana
er. Miroslav
Číž wastoelected
dalparticipate
must not end
with
resig-to the
scribereplace
their methods
of fight- lic debate
issue
The state underestimated
decorated
Renáta Zmajkovičová,
nationsabout
only,this
but it
also but
should Melicherčíková,
ing with
extremism
statements
are thewith
power
education
theofWhite
Crow right
corrupa key
Smer because
official, ofwho
continueofat politicians
a level of criminal
tactical
police missing
or are evasive,
ac- after
Slovakia
joined the
EU in as
tion
whistleblower
award,
steppedreasons,
down in connection
responsibility,
TASR wrote.
spokesperson
Michal
Slivka
cordingThe
to opposition
the Institute
and
does of
not
suffiwell
as aitnumber
actors,
also
with the CT
scandal,
in the
put for
Paška2004
told The
Slovak
Spectator.
Public
(IVO)over
think-tank
explain
public how
addressed
theto
crowd.
deputy
speaker
post.
in Affairs
hot water
what theyciently
president
Grigorij
say are his ties to
medicalmuch organisations like EU or
Most-Híd Chairman Béla
Mesežnikov.
for Slovak
well beHumor
better
companies, especially theNATO did The
Bugárissaid
he than
hopesjail
that PelCT scandal
Medicalyou
Group,
which won
legrini
would respect the op- “Have
recently
no-theing. This is the reason why
sentences
They also
claimedsome Slovaks
position and make it possible for
The Piešťany
hospital
ticedCTatender.
government
represare keen
to be-had
that Paška
not publish
it to perform
announced
tender to to
purentative
clearlydid
describing
his hislieve
hoaxes, a according
Instead
of its controlling
repressionrole.
income
from the
sale of exsharesMesežnikov.
chase a CT Somatom Definition
Pellegrinithehas
said
or her
attitude
towards
Nociar proposes
public
to he
in private
companies.
AS
produced
Siemens
in 2012
to arguments
tremism
and not
only in form
fightwould
with listen
extremism
using of
“We
should by
focus
on highfor roughly
€1 million
with
the opposition
but he
expects
of
general
statements?” quality
the humor
or rational
arguof education
of young
VAT;sohowever,
officials
themaking
same initreturn.
toldprotests
The Slovak people
ments
less attract- Mesežnikov The
they willafter
be able
to
from the
ruling Smer
partyintook
“People often view parliaSpectator. “To organise press critically
ive for people.
perceive
and sort
control over
hospitalonfolment Slovak
only as asociety
political
Moread than
1,000some
peopleformation
conference
hoc after
The
and the
respond
lowing
the 2012Oravec
election,
theatre,”
said not
Pellegrini,
gathered event
in Bratislava
to de-hatred
unpleasant
and then
however
often does
recog- as
in internet,”
said.the
quoted by the TASR newswire. mand Paška’s resignation on management cancelled the
Pellegrini’s appointment November 14 during a rally or- deal and announced a new
came as a surprise, as many ganised by independent MP tender for a more expensive
expected Culture Minister Alojz Hlina, following a similar device, TV Markíza reported on
Marek Maďarič of Smer to take protest in Košice in front of October 30.
up the post.
Paška’s house where around 300
The winning bid by Meddid not
education
youth inon
a playful
Continued from pg 3
people of
gathered
Novemberdren’s
ical playground
Group SK atbut
almost
€1.6
complete
receiving
way.11, according to TASR.
millionitfordespite
a Philips
Ingenuity
Paška’s departure
payment.
Surotchak perceives this
There
are two saw
winners
of onfullCore
128 CT scanner was
Bratislava
a rally
There were
also than
two winincarnation
the awards
a the November
Award for Excellent
Em- by €600,000
higher
the CT
25 organised
Paškaofresigned
as speaker
in thefrom
Good Community
breakthrough
with
record
ployer
While
the cancelled
Hlina, category.
Daniel Lipšic of
opposi-nersdevice
of parliament
the same
night
Award
Thethe
numbers
of small and
medium-overDeutschMann
Internatender,
Sme category.
reported. At
tion NOVA, Richard
Sulík ofPartner
as municipal
elections,
sized
entersizedshadowing
companies reports
taking part,
tionaleSpedition
Prešov won
time of the deal,
Zmajkovičová
Freedom andinSolidarity
(SaS)small-medium
on outawardthe
went
to GlaxoSincluding
Slovak
comthe price
in the
sectorofofthe
small
headed
hospital’s
superand Igor
Matovič
Ordin-prise
comesmany
of mayoral
races
across
Slovakia for its
panies
with noFico,
ties who
to foreign
and ary
medium-sized
visory board.
People andcompanies
IndependentmithKline
Slovakia.
had been
Step
training
proownership.
for its
education (OĽaNO)
system Proleadership
of the
hosPersonalities
swell-SecondThe
backing Paška since the CT
pital announced
on November
to a gathering
scandal winners
broke, are
saidsevPaška
of teachers
at ele“Among
gressingBoard,
it also 5,000-strong,
won the gramme
6 that schools
they areto
seeking
ways to
according
toAccenture
the Sme daily.
resignedofto
protect his
family
use ethical
eral projects
companies
from
Public’s
Award.
won mentary
cancel the
Medeconomically weaker regions this category in the sector of education
to contract
prevent with
aggresicalThe
Group
SK. Yet,
of Slovakia, like Banská large companies.
sion.
award
for director
a large of
the hospital
Bystrica,
Trebišov
or
wentMária
to Domčeková
Embraco
The company Ten Senses, company
in an in
interview
Partizánske,” said Surotchak. active in Bratislava and Slovakia
Spišská with
NováSme
Veson
insisted that
“Also these prove that they can Nairobi in Kenya, received the for November
its grant 12,
programme
fo-the
purchase
came after a legitimmotivate people to a personal Fair Player in the Market cused
on environmental
eduate tender.
growth, interest in their en- Award for helping local farm- cation
at schools and kinderIn an unexpected turn, the
virons and responsible atti- ers in Kenya.
gartens.
authorised
tude to environment.”
Pontis alsorepresentative
granted hon- of
Pontis did not grant the
Medical
Group SK,
mention
in Juraj
the Koval,
big
award in the category the Sup- ourable
sacked
its
director
Erika
Bilá for
porter of Volunteering Award business Main Award category
More winners
what he called damaging the
Partizánske
Building
but the jury granted a honour- for
company’s reputation. The suThe Green Award went to able mention to the law firm Components-SK.
pervisory board of the com“These
are projects
andknown
apbicycle courier Švihaj Šuhaj, BNT attorneys-at-law in Bratpany
allegedly
had not
by
companies,
which
which provides ecological islava for their services proaches
about the €1.6 million deal,
exceptional
their aims,
green services in Bratislava provided pro bono to the Ulita are sealed
in theinsummer.
A few
com-had
and Košice. The jury awarded civic association working with helpdays neighbouring
earlier, the company
employees,
take
in this category also an hon- children from marginalised munities,
said it was
preparedand
to file
lawenvironment
into considourable mention. It went to groups in Petržalka, the Brat- thesuits
over the claims
that the
or combat
corruption
suburb.
Attorneys eration
waste treatment company islava
CT scanner
was overpriced.
Marius Pedersen in Zvolen for helped Ulita in a lawsuit with while solve socially demanding problems in
Slovakia,”
a Pellegrini
construction company,
volunteering
activities
focus- Peter
New Speaker
of Parliament
Photo: SITA
Read
more on pg 9
ing on the environmental which started building a chil- Surotchak said.
VIA: Ethical firms honoured
April 6 – 19, 2015
Kiska striking a balance
There
is still
a long
with
soft
opposition
road ahead
December 1 – 7, 2014
approaches
NO matter where your beliefs practice
on the political spectrum fall, something like Albert Einfor insanity,
any
advocate
of a failed
genuinely
ŠTEFAN
Harabin
in his stein’s
post definition
on Facebook,
when
is “doing
thetheir
samerepresthing
pluralist
democracy
must
ad-in that
last shot
at keeping
power
judges
elected
and over
again
and exmit
President
Andrej
thethat
Slovak
judiciary
after over
entatives
to the
18-member
Kiska’s
one year25ago
judgeselection
on November
said Judicial Council, Harabin dewas
a good
for Slovakia.
they
do thing
not want
to see the feated his challenger Dušan
In awho
country
with
nothe
credman
lorded
over
secible,
coherent
or decade
capableto
PINIO
tor for
much of past
political
a
have a opposition,
seat on the and
Judicial
general
election
approaching,
Council,
which
oversees the
Kiska
is forced of
into
the role
of
functioning
courts
nationthewide.
soft opposition
to the
othThe year 2014
is praised
by many
as a year
of change
erwise
dominant
Smer
party.in
and is proving
Hethe
hasjudiciary,
done admirable
work a
onethankless
for Harabin
in thorny
this rather
job. who
also
failed the
in his
to get
Through
usebid
of his
vetoreelected
Court
– even
if itas isSupreme
then quickly
chairman
departed
overriden
by and
Smer’s
majorityas
of the Judicial
Council
in head
parliament
– he provides
atas
well.
least
some check on power,
Harabin,
true
his
alerting
the public
theretomay
did meets
not admit
defeat,
be nature,
more than
the eye
to
but proposed
said instead
“small
laws
andthat
quickly
defeatsby
have
alwaysMinister
launched
passed
Prime
me to big victories”, a stateRobert
Fico’s government.
BY BENJAMIN
ment which indeed suggests
In the only such case of
C
UNNINGHAM
that he takes his role in the
BY B
EATA BALOGOVÁ
Smer
admitting a mistake in
Spectator
judiciary very personally.
Spectatorstaff
staff
recent
memory,
one
Kiska
“Have I lost? What are you
veto
even stuck
a law toretalking
about?”and
Harabin
ban
fast food
in schools,
sponded
in an
interview pecting different results”.
which
failed
to
Legitimate
queries
about
earlieramazingly
this year after
he saw
Čimo,
a pro-reform
judge,
in
define
whattoshould
be the
conof mind
the
his hopes
return to
Su- soundness
regions where
theaside,
so-called
sidered
was sent opposition
fails
to recognise
premefast
Courtfood,
evaporating.
judge family
clans
still flourback toHarabin
the drawing
board.under- how
confusing tothis
indeed
ish. According
TIS, gimevery
is to the
average
voter.
This isthe
farcurrent
from the
ideal mickry
stands
situation
fifth active
judge
in Slovakia
is one
to determine
the
way
legislative
process
as for
a the
proverbial
lost
battle, How
voted
in favour
of Harabin,
truly
to while
work. Kiska’s
constitutionat the same
time his difference
and thus between
in some away
his
or dangerous
law and
al powers
limited an
andunwillhe is corrupt
rhetoricare
indicates
world view
too.
is merely
out
notingness
meant to
to surrender
play the role
in of
the one that
Čimo
noted opposed
in an interwar. opposition. Ac- ofview
with the
Sme daily
that
political
calculus?
On the
thelarger
political
is right in one
thing. accounting
Harabin “still
received
ledger
of relatthe
tual He
parliamentary
debate
Just because
he was removed
ively highright
support”.
What can
opposition
about
the direction
of the centre
from the
steering parties,
induce a all
mental
shift in heads
Smer-proposed
country
is judicial
the preferred
wheelStill,
doesthenot
meansituthat laws
of the
255 judges
who still
are equally
bad. Criticism
means.
present
howis nonetheless
the courts awork
will comes
votedacross
for Harabin?
ation
marked
as noise, which
automatically,
dramatically
Society
seem loses
to be
improvement
on what
came it is, and
the does
opposition
improve.
It
does
however
losingleft
patience
with wellbefore, when Smer ally
Ivan what’s
of its credibility.
mean thatheld
theresway
is now
con- connected
public
siGašparovič
inathe
The debate
overofficials
proposed
siderably
bigger
chance
for
phoning
funds
from
the
nopresidential palace and new changes to the public proletting
air without
into the curement
toriously law is cash-strapped
laws
sailedfresh
through
a fitting excountry’s
court
system
and
healthcare
A recent
so much as a pause.
ample
of this sector.
foolishness.
The
for the atmosphere of fear and 5,000-strong protest rally
The general practice of hastily conceived changes
intimidation to be replaced by suggests that the scandal surSlovakia’s parliamentary op- purport to limit shell comtransparency and accountab- rounding overpriced medical
position is to oppose panies’ ability to bid on public
ility.
equipment hit a raw nerve
Thewho
law feel
cameitintakes
reeverything
proposedisbyfar
Smer.
Still, Harabin
from contracts.
with many
a spate ofgreed
procureThis
is meant
make
for goodof action
being
the to
sole
problem
both toexcessive
and
scandals
involving
hostactical
politics,
though
elec- ment
Slovakia’s
courts.
As Transstrong
political
connections
at the
endatofthe
2014.
The
tion
resultsInternational
say otherwise.
parency
Slov- pitals
to make
a mint
expense
The
stubborn
the right-leaning
ensko
(TIS) repetition
noted in aofpublic
of the sick. opposition took
O
N
EDITORIAL
5
5
the opportunity to point out
the shortcomings of the law,
which
of
It they
also argued
seems was
thatfullthe
loopholes
and
wouldthe
failgovto
protests are
making
curb
corrupt
bidding
on public
ernment
nervous
because
last
contracts.
week the cabinet pitched a
This may
be true,probut
revision
to well
the public
how
valid are
critiques
curement
lawthese
to parliament
coming
from political
parties
that purports
to eliminate
the
that
were in power
for 10 ofshell
the
possibility
that murky
14
years between
1998
companies
can take
partand
in
2012,
failed to
pass anya
publicbut
tenders.
However,
meaningful
legislation
the
quick review
of theon law
already
seems to Kiska
show veit
issue
themselves?
needs
significant
revisions to
toed
the
law and recommenactually
it effective.
ded
eightmake
changes.
Smer acThe three
departure
of Pavol
cepted
of them.
The
Paška from the
post of speakpresident’s
reservations
are
er of parliament
is a recomstrong
specific,
as were his
indicator of just
deep the
mendations
andhow
Smer’s
derabbitto
hole
goes,most
and ifofthe
opcision
ignore
them
position
about
are
things truly
whichcares
they can
be
transparent
public
procureheld
accountable
for when
the
ment,
now iserupts.
the time to press
next
scandal
theKiska
rulinghas
Smeralso
party
and the
try
done
to come up with real proposcountry well in terms of its
als in parliament that would
perception abroad. His 2014
actually induce progress.
visitIftothe
thenew
United
States inspeaker of the
cluded
stops Pellegrini
at business
inhouse Peter
really
cubators,
the he
headquarters
of
means what
says, and acFacebook,
and Stanford.
tually willMIT
listen
to arguThis
was
conscious
attempt
ments
byathe
opposition,
then
to
brand
innovatthere
is Slovakia
a chanceas
something
ive,
usefulprogressive
could come and
from tech
this
savvy,
perhaps
situation.
If this not
turnsimages
out to
that
jump to way
American
minds
be another
the opposiwhen
theytothink
central
tion tries
make of
voters
reEurope.
member their names and disAmid continued
Russian
tinguish
their parties
from
aggression
in then
neighbouring
one another,
it will go
down as Kiska
a missed
Ukraine,
hasopportunpublicly
ity.
played
the role of staunch
Changes
to the
judiciarya
NATO
supporter.
Alongside
and of
public
procurement
lack
clarity
from Fico, laws
who
could of course
work hand-inexpresses
reticence
about
hand. If there
was a waterEuropean
sanctions
policy
proof prosecution
and wellbefore
his government
goes
functioning
the
along
with it,court
this system,
goes a long
public
hopeothers
that anyway
to could
convince
that
one who outrageously
Slovakia
swims inabused
the
their political
connections to
European
mainstream.
make
a fortune
would what
actu“Can
you imagine
ally pay for it by losing more
this
country’s position on
than their political post.
Ukraine would look like if we
While there may be some
still had both Gašparovič and
reasons for tentative optimFico
office?”
asks
Milan Nič,
ismin
about
recent
changes,
the
director
the public
Central
list of highofranking
ofEuropean
Policy Institute.
ficials convicted
of graft and
Be thankful
thereshameis no
sitting
in jail remains
need
do so.
fullyto
low.
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6
April 6 – 19, 2015
BUSINESS FOCUS
TRANSPORT
Private railway operator
may come
Air line boost visitor rate
in Tatras
Mixed results in Slovak
air travel
BY ERIK RÉDLI
Special to the Spectator
THE TWO biggest airports in
Slovakia, in Bratislava and
Košice, saw opposite developments last year. While air
traffic stagnated in the capital,
Košice was one of the five fastest growing airports in Europe
last year. New routes and the
arrival of more low-cost carriers have some industry experts
hoping for more growth in
2015.
“In the long term air
transport in Slovakia, at least
in terms of the number of passengers, is rather stagnant,”
Pavol Kajánek, the division
director of the research and
development department at
the Transport Research Institute (VÚD), told The Slovak
Spectator.
In this respect Kajánek
sees the biggest challenge of
Slovakia’s air transport as not
only expanding regular direct
lines between airports in
Bratislava and Košice and destinations most popular with
passengers, but also in the
form of regular flights connecting main airports in Slovakia with important European
hub airports from which passengers would be able to continue directly to their final
destination.
“The pre-condition for
such regular lines is that these
flights take place at times
which are most interesting for
passengers and that connect
with regular lines from hub
airlines to other destinations,”
said Kajánek.
According to Antonín
Kazda, head of the Air Transport Department at the University of Žilina, the position of
air transport in Slovakia and in
Europe should be assessed
from the viewpoint of global
trends, in particular growth in
the share of low-cost carriers
in the entire air transport system.
In this respect Kazda
pointed out that low-cost carriers are able to attract just a
narrow segment of passengers, those driven by price.
Kazda further pointed out
that low-cost carriers operating in Slovakia often offer
flights at inconvenient times
and thus their offer of routes
and destinations do not satisfy
those on business trips and
those travelling to hub airports
with connections to other
destinations. Moreover, the
Air transport in Slovakia still has room to expand.
time needed to travel from
northern Slovakia to airports
that provide scheduled air
transport significantly exceeds the usual limit of 60
minutes.
“Thus the main challenge
for passenger air traffic in
Slovakia is to secure regular air
transport for business travellers from regional airports by
connecting these to some of
the hubs,” said Kazda.
Bratislava and Košice
The M. R. Štefánik Airport
in Bratislava transported
1,355,265 passengers last year,
a decline of 1.3 percent compared to the previous year. It
offered direct connections to
14 destinations with London
being the most popular with
almost 275,000 passengers,
followed by holiday resorts in
Turkey and Greek islands.
“After a several years of
decline the airport in Bratislava expects an increase in
transported
passengers
thanks to new routes and arrival of new air carriers,” M. R.
Štefánik Airport’s General
Director Ivan Trhlík told The
Slovak Spectator, adding that
the Ireland-based Ryanair has
opened a new base in Bratislava in late March.
In recent years, the Bratislava airport relied on low-cost
carriers but after a complete
withdrawal of Easy-Jet and
cancellation of some Ryanair
routes, the airport experienced
a decline in the frequency of
flights and departing passengers.
The Dubai-based airline
Flydubai added Bratislava to
its growing network as part of
its significant expansion in
central and southeastern
Europe in late 2014.
“The launch of the new
scheduled flight connection
between Bratislava and Dubai
is a great business success,”
Trhlík said, as cited in a press
release.
During the first week of
December, another airline,
Austria’s Niki, unveiled its
plans to introduce connections from Bratislava to Brussels and Mallorca via Vienna.
But the original launch was
postponed from April to October this year or April 2016.
Ryanair has opened a new
base in Bratislava late in
March and it will have two
planes based here. Trhlík said
the carrier will add three new
routes to Athens, Madrid and
Berlin and will increase the
frequency of its flights to London, Dublin and Liverpool.
The changes will require a
$200 million investment and
will transport almost 1 million
customers per year to Bratislava, Ryanair wrote in its press
release.
Trhlík believes that the
base in Bratislava will also
bring better timing of departures and arrivals for passengers.
“Already now we can say
that our assumptions about an
increase in passengers in 2015
are being fulfilled,” said Trhlík,
adding that the number of
passengers increased by 31
percent or 32,329 passengers
during the first two months of
2015 compared with the previous year.
Letisko Košice (Košice Air-
Photo: Sme
port) experienced a 50-percent
increase compared with the
previous year to 365,000 passengers. Tomáš Jančuš, deputy
to the airport’s executive director, ascribes the positive developments a new low-cost
connection to London, the
stable operation of flights to
Bratislava, Vienna and Prague
and the best charter season in
the history of the Košice airport.
Hungarian low-cost airline
Wizz Air will open its Košice
base as early as June 5 and
flights to Milan’s Bergamo airport and Doncaster Sheffield
Airport in the UK will be available as of June 5 and June 7, respectively. The air carrier also
announced a boost in its flights
to London to 10 times a week.
“Opening of the new bases
[of Wizz Air in Košice and Ryanair in Bratislava] is excellent
news for Slovakia,” Jančuš
said, adding that it is beneficial
especially for Košice which so
far has had only limited access
to low-cost air transport. He
noted the key benefits, apart
from improved flight connections, as an increase in the attractiveness of Košice and
eastern Slovakia for foreign
investors as well as an added
value for development of tourism.
Altogether, the new Wizz
Air base will feature 14 flights
on a weekly basis during the
upcoming summer season.
Originally, Wizz Air had
planned to launch flights to
Milan and Sheffield in
September 2015, using an Airbus A320.
See AIR pg 8
Next issue:
BUSINESS FOCUS
TELECOMMUNICATIONS
INTERNET & ONLINE SERVICES
FOCUS shorts
Ryanair opens base in Bratislava
IRISH low-cost airline Ryanair has opened a base at
Bratislava’s M. R. Štefánik
Airport after nearly 10 years
of operating flights to and
from Bratislava on March 30.
The investment was projected at $200 million when
the plan was announced in
November.
“It’s a very important
event for us, as Bratislava
airport will see the return of a
carrier that will base its aircraft here for the first time in
many years, something that
we haven’t seen since
SkyEurope,” said the airport’s
general director Ivan Trhlík,
as cited by the TASR newswire. He is expecting an increase in the number of passengers thanks to the move.
SkyEurope, which was
also a low-cost airline, had its
main base in Bratislava until
2009, when it suspended all
flights and announced
bankruptcy.
Ryanair’s new base will
feature two specially based
aircraft that will fly from the
city early in the morning,
serving a number of destinations across Europe before
coming back in the evening.
The low-fare airline is also
considering basing other
planes in the Slovak capital
later on.
No Ryanair plane has remained at the airport
overnight in the past, according to the airport’s
spokesperson Veronika
Ševčíková. The new base
means that passengers will
be able to enjoy better departure times – in the early
morning and late evening.
“The figures for passengers in January, February
and March, a period before
the opening of the base,
show as much as a 30percent hike compared to
last year,” said Trhlík. “We
expect the increase in passenger numbers for the
whole of 2015 to be massive.
We’re talking hundreds of
thousands of passengers
more than in 2014.”
Furthermore, Ryanair is
set to open two new routes to
Athens and Madrid, which
will be served three times a
week. In total, the company
will fly to 17 destinations to
and from Bratislava in the
summer season. Moreover,
the winter season should see
yet another route added as of
October. Ryanair passengers
will be able to fly to Berlin on
a daily basis.
RegioJet cites growth since 2012
THE CZECH railway carrier
RegioJet claims it has tripled
the number of passengers using the Bratislava-Komárno
route since it took over from
the state railway operator
Železničná spoločnosť Slovensko (ZSSK) three years ago.
The company is taking
credit for shifting commuters
who use the route from cars to
trains.
“Modern RegioJet trains
proved that if passengers are
offered good-quality services,
they are willing to switch
from a car to a train,” owner of
RegioJet Radim Jančura told
the Hospodárske noviny daily.
“In three years we have
proven – even before the controversial, populist law on free
train travel of [Prime Minister] Robert Fico that passenger
train transport can be done in
a different way in Slovakia:
well, responsibly and, most of
all, so that it is attractive for
the travelling public.”
This change has also influenced the real estate market around the capital, according to Jančura.
“The buyers actively
search whether our trains
stop in the due municipality,”
he said. “RegioJet makes each
municipality with a train station more attractive.”
Passenger trains and regional express trains of RegioJet run on the BratislavaKomárno track and back based
on the order of the Slovak
Transport Ministry, in public
interest. They connect
Komárno with the capital on a
daily basis, with more than 15
lines within a close vicinity of
Bratislava, securing passenger
transport with almost 30
lines, according to the firm.
Moreover, RegioJet also
operates, apart from the trains
on the already mentioned
route, the modern InterCity
RegioJet trains on the route
Bratislava-Žilina-Košice, since
December 2014; and also the
bus line Bratislava-NitraBanská Bystrica since February 2015.
In March, a RegioJet train
derailed at Bratislava’s main
station. Nobody was seriously
injured in the mishap.
Compiled by Spectator staff
BUSINESS FOCUS
www.spectator.sk
April 6 – 19, 2015
Bus companies rethink
loss-making routes
Gov’t plan to
discount rail
prices spurs drop
in bus passengers
BY PETER ADAMOVSKÝ
Special to the Spectator
WHILE railway transportation
is booming thanks to the government’s so-called “free
trains” measure and discounts
for commuters, bus companies
have begun cutting routes
amid mounting losses.
Passengers who have
shifted to train travel do so
primarily on long-distance
transport which take place
without any subsidies, but
the changes have also impacted suburban bus lines
subsidised by self-governing
regions that ensure connectivity outside major cities.
As reported by the Bus Transport Association (ZAD), the
average drop in suburban bus
transport is only 2.7 percent
while the drop in a longdistance bus trips approaches
17.3 percent.
“On the basis of these results carriers are reviewing the
running of some routes with
the aim of limiting losses from
those activities,” ZAD President Peter Pobeha told The
Slovak Spectator.
For example, bus trans-
Discounted rail passes have reduced suburban bus transport in some regions.
portation companies SAD
Žilina and SAD Prievidza cancelled some routes in February, the TASR newswire reported. The Transport, Construction and Regional Development Ministry, however,
has pointed out that the loss of
passengers has come only on
bus routes that directly compete with railways.
“Switching has appeared
on the shared lines with halfempty subsidised trains and
buses,” Transport Ministry
spokesman Martin Kóňa told
The Slovak Spectator, adding
that the preference for trains
is a general trend in Europe.
Passengers are travelling in
the most ecological and eco-
nomical way.
Weak collaboration
The interests of bus carriers operating suburban transport do not jive with the interests of the state-owned
passenger
rail
carrier
Železničná Spoločnosť Slovensko (ZSSK), resulting in a
lack of cooperation.
While all 1,600 trains from
ZSSK have been ordered and
subsidised by the Transport
Ministry, bus companies receive subsidies only from regional governments.
According to officials with
the Bratislava Self-Governing
Region (BSK), it is essential to
Photo: Sme
support public transportation
in its entirety, including bus
companies. The decision to
support only train service
seems to be unsystematic and
not conceptual, said the
spokeswoman for BSK, Iveta
Tyšlerová, because the buses
play a significant role in regional transportation.
Officials from the Košice
Self-Governing Region have
proposed to define the scope of
social rebates for all modes of
public transportation. Pobeha
of the ZAD agrees that collaboration and joint support have
an essential role in public
transportation.
Slovakia has untapped
potential in using
water ways
BY RADKA MINARECHOVÁ
Spectator staff
Passenger boats could serve tourists as well as regular commuters.
project to establish the river connection
between these municipalities and Bratislava.
“The new pontoons represent the
gateway for Čunovo, Hamuliakovo and
Šamorín, allowing transportation to these
places also by water,” Diana Migaľová,
spokesperson for Vodohospodárska
Výstavba, told The Slovak Spectator.
Transport by passenger boat is a common mode of transportation in the world.
It is possible for regular commuters to use
FOCUS shorts
Private railway operator may come
THE RAILWAY track between
Bratislava and Banská
Bystrica may see a private
carrier soon. The Transport
Ministry led by Ján Počiatek
is preparing a tender for
companies to operate the
train line on this track.
“Our goal is to organise a
tender for this express line in
the course of this year,”
spokesman of the Transport,
Construction and Regional
Development Ministry Martin Kóňa told the TASR newswire. He added, however, that
the ministry is now only beginning and the whole liberalisation process is being
launched and the conditions
are being defined. Thus, he
refused to elaborate more details on the project.
A private carrier would
operate the route with a state
subsidy, which would make it
the second such route in
Slovakia; RegioJet currently
operates trains between
Bratislava and Komárno on a
similar principle.
The state has chosen the
route from the capital to
Banská Bystrica, as it is a
continuous line that has sufficient capacity of train power
output, i.e. about 1.3 million
train-kilometres. Thus, it is
large enough, with an independent set of trains, and can
be operated with a lower risk
of failure. Currently, eight
duo express trains ride on the
track.
“The inclusion of two
couples of extra-trains –
which currently operate on
the track, too – in the tender
is being considered,” Kóňa
said, adding that the stateowned Železničná Spoločnosť
Slovensko (ZSSR) that now
operates the track willmost
probably bid on the tender.
“ZSSK is essentially interested in participation in
tenders for express lines, but
the final decision will always
be connected with specific
conditions of the competition, ZSSK spokeswoman Jana
Morháčová told TASR.
Several railway carriers
have shown interest in this
tender, according to the
Hospodárske noviny daily,
such as Arriva Slovensko, RegioJet and LEO Express.
See BUS pg 8
Boats on the Danube may speed up
commuting to Bratislava
THE RECENTLY introduced Danubebus
project may soon enable residents three
municipalities south of Bratislava situated near the Danube River to commute
to Bratislava by boat. Though the pontoon docks in the harbours have already
been built it is not clear yet when the route
will be open as the responsible parties are
still dealing with procuring boats.
The three floating concrete pontoons
near Bratislava’s Čunovo district, the village of Hamuliakovo and the town of
Šamorín were ceremonially opened in late
October 2014. One area also has a waiting
room, a buffet and restrooms. The construction was initiated by the mayors of
the three municipalities and implemented by state-run Vodohospodárska
Výstavba company. The total cost was
nearly €2 million.
The building of pontoons was a condition for launching further stages of the
7
Photo: Sme
it, thus circumventing the traffic jams on
the main roads to Bratislava, but also by
tourists who could see the surroundings
of the capital from another view, she added.
“The advantages [of this project] are
especially the quick transport to the city
centre, thereby relieving traffic on the
roads,” Gabriela Ferenčáková, mayor of
Čunovo, told The Slovak Spectator.
See BOAT pg 8
Planes brought more tourists to the Tatras.
Photo: Sme
Airline boosts visitor rate in Tatras
THE FIRST season of a flight
connection between the Slovak city of Poprad, lying under
the foot of the Tatra mountains, and the Latvian capital
of Riga has positively impacted the number of visitors
to both the High and Low
Tatras.
The new flight route has
been most used by Latvians,
Estonians and Russians, but
the numbers of Finns and
Swedes has also increased.
Although the original goal of
flying 2,600 passengers during
this season was only 65 percent fulfilled, the Poprad airport is not disappointed with
the result.
“The route has proven viable in less than three
months,” Ivan Hečko of the
Poprad-Tatras airport told the
SITA newswire. “The statistics
have so far shown that airBaltic, which operates the
route, managed to fully compensate the drop of flying
tourists from Russia and
Ukraine. Moreover, the number of tourists arriving by
plane increased by 509 people
compared to the previous
year.”
Thanks to the regular
connection with Riga, more
guests from Baltic countries
arrived to the High and Low
Tatras. “The new air route has
been positively reflected in
the visitors’ rate in the region,
as the passengers from Riga
accounted for more than 4,500
overnight stays with accommodation facilities in the High
Tatras and Liptov between
December 13, 2014 and March
7, 2015,” said Darina Bartková,
head of the Regional Tourism
Organisation Región Liptov.
The new route was
launched by airBaltic and its
Slovak partners in mid
December 2014 and its first
season ended on March 7. Of
the total number of passengers carried, 80 percent were
headed to Slovakia – mostly
tourists, while the remaining
20 percent were travelling
salespeople and passengers
heading to Riga and northern
Europe for business.
Compiled by Spectator staff
8
April 6 – 19, 2015
BUSINESS FOCUS
BOAT: Waterways offer efficient travel
Continued from pg 7
One of the disadvantages,
however, is the pontoon’s distance, she added. It is located
near the white water complex, outside the municipality.
“Securing the transport
connection to the harbour
would increase the interest in
this kind of transport from the
side of not only the inhabitants of Čunovo, but also Slovaks living in the nearby Hungarian villages,” Ferenčáková Pontoon docks have been built on the Danube.
Photo: Sme
said.
The regular line may be ticket. The mayors, however,
established in 2016 at the say it should not be more than
Launch is unclear
earliest, Feješ said. He added, what people pay for a bus or
The construction of the however, that the whole pro- train ticket, the Pravda daily
pontoon docks is only the first cess might be speeded up if the wrote.
phase of the project whose aim project got support from auis to expand boat transport on thorities from the public secSlovak rivers
the Danube. Other phases in- tor.
have potential
“It works in a similar way
clude the construction of piers
for the small ships and then when it comes to other forms
Regarding
passenger
establishing a regular sched- of suburban service, and also transport on waterways, Slovule between Bratislava and the to similar projects of passen- akia lags behind its neighbours
municipalities, the TASR ger boat transport in other through which the Danube
European cities,” Feješ added. flows and does not fully use the
newswire wrote.
It is also not clear where potential that rivers have, Feješ
The project is currently in
the phase of searching for the pontoon will be placed in said.
money to procure the boats Bratislava. According to the
Transport by water is nothdesigned for this kind of plans, it should be at a place ing new for Slovakia. In the
transport, Ľubomír Feješ of that will secure good public past, a national fleet of mercompany Nautivia, the au- transport connections to the cantile boats for transporting
thor of the project, told The rest of the city, TASR wrote. goods and people was deSlovak Spectator, adding that The most appropriate place veloped and had an important
the firm is currently discuss- would be near Eurovea shop- place among the fleets of other
ing the possibilities with ping centre, Feješ said.
countries on the Danube. Its
Another still unsettled development, however, was
banks of taking a loan or usthing remains the price of a stopped by the economic crisis
ing leasing for the boats
in the 1980s, the Transport
Ministry spokesperson told The
Slovak Spectator.
The European Union considers this kind of transport the
most ecologically and economically sound and as part of its
transport policy it is gradually
creating conditions for establishing better waterway infrastructure. It is among Slovakia’s priorities for the 20142020 programme period, as part
of the Operational Programme
Integrated Infrastructure, the
spokesperson added.
“Our aim is to use the geographical benefit and location
of Slovakia on the important
route of the Danube and also to
create conditions to use the potential of Slovak rivers for waterway transport,” Kóňa said.
The country will focus on
two projects. First, to modernise and complete parts of the
public port in Bratislava and
second to improve the navigability of the Danube, which
will also impact use of existing
harbours on the river, he added.
When it comes to development of the boat transport,
Feješ points to the importance
of support from public administration, including guarantees
and funding, either via loans or
contributions from EU funds.
He compared meeting
these conditions to the successful project of the Baťa
Channel on the Morava River.
BUS: Discount train fares alter market
Continued from pg 7
“The ZAD calls on the Transport Ministry with a request for negotiation to ensure common action in the interest of improving public transport,” Pobeha said.
The rail subsidy scheme could extend
to buses, according to the Transport Ministry, although subsidising bus transport
is in power of regional governments. Still,
for subsidies to occur, train and bus routes
should not compete with one another,
Kóňa said.
Pressure to harmonise
Better harmonisation and the removal of overlapping routes could help curb
losses by bus companies. Many regions
have to rely on the regional bus lines, thus
residents are discriminated against by the
railway rebates. Proper coordination
would ensure that passengers who have
to use various modes for travelling to
work or school arrive in time.
According to ZSSK, it is much more
complicated to change the departure time
of train compared to a bus. Amendment of
the arrival time at one stop for just a few
minutes can disrupt connections in all the
other regions.
“Twenty-one trains are connected to
the Bratislava–Žilina–Košice express
lines,”
ZSSK
spokeswoman
Jana
Morháčová told The Slovak Spectator.
Morháčová also pointed out that ZSSK
has established so-called clock-face
scheduling according to which commuters and express trains leave at regular intervals; therefore the displacement
of one implies the need to move the other
on the same route. Thus the change in the
west of country will affect conditions in
the east, she said.
BSK has reacted with new bus sched-
Trains have become more popular.
ules, according to Tyšlerová. Pobeha of
ZAD acknowledges that bus carriers in
other regions acting similarly.
“Currently we are harmonising hundreds of lines with the railways,” Pobeha
said. “But only where it ensures a guaranteed improvement in quality.”
Patrik Velšic, spokesman of the
Trnava Self-Governing Region, said his
region adjusts bus schedules every year to
match changes by the railway. The priority is to minimise simultaneous transport and improve flow, he said.
In contrast, officials of Prešov Region
say they are less likely to significantly alter bus schedules.
“The region must comply with valid
contracts with public carriers for the years
2009 to 2018,” Veronika Fitzeková, spokeswoman of Prešov Self-Governing Region,
told The Slovak Spectator, adding that intervention in routes can occur only after
communication with the local authorities.
The Transport Ministry would also
Photo: Sme
like to use a better harmonisation mechanism to remove overlaps of trains and
buses. Both modes are paid out of taxpayers money, so if they go the same route
at the same time it has a negative impact
on taxpayers and passengers, the Transport Ministry’s Kóňa said.
Tyšlerová of BSK disagrees with complete abolishment of overlapping buses
and trains, citing rush hours that see a
spike in passengers.
“We prefer to improve the supply before reduction of mass public transport
options,” she said.
According to ZAD officials travel preferences vary but the free or discounted
train fares mean those who have an option are likely to choose trains.
“If we begin to command people in
choosing their public transport mode,
there could be a risk that they choose individual [car] transport,” Pobeha said.
“This is not our aim and certainly not the
aim of the state.”
AIR: Rail travel
versus air
Continued from pg 6
But while Kajánek sees
the launch of bases of lowcost airlines positively,
Kazda remains sceptical.
“The launch of new bases
will undoubtedly lead to an
increase of passengers, but it
is questionable whether the
operation of low-cost carriers would cover costs of the
airports [in Bratislava and
Košice],” said Kazda, adding
that conditions under which
Ryanair would operate in
Bratislava are not known
and that the dominance of
this strong carrier discourages others from entering
the market.
In this respect he pointed out that Bratislava airport has failed so far to obtain connections operated by
so-called traditional carriers.
Trhlík of the Bratislava
airport noted that Slovakia
lacks a national flagship
carrier, which could secure
air connections between
Bratislava and important
cities, pointing out that even
Montenegro with only
623,000 citizens has its national carrier with six
planes.
“A national carrier would
significantly contribute to
development of air transport
in Slovakia,” said Trhlík.
Rail versus air
Lacking state support
While some kinds of
passenger transport receive
support from the state, this
is not the case for air transport.
“Passenger air transport
is part of the system of
transport serveability of the
territory of the state,” said
Kazda. “Scheduled air transport is a significant factor in
the development of the region and a catalyst for its
economy. Contrary to other
forms of transport, bus and
rail transport, there exist
neither financial nor systematic support for scheduled air transport and regional airports.”
In this respect Kazda was
not only speaking about
subsidies. According to him,
a survey of passengers who
instead of taking flights from
Slovakia use services of airports close to borders would
provide relevant information
about the Slovak market and
prospective passengers. This
would help during negotiations with carriers about
opening new routes.
“The performance of airports in the sector of
charters and low-cost carriers make up only a portion of
the air passenger transport
from Slovakia,” said Kazda.
“Based on estimates, most
travellers, especially from
the most lucrative sector of
business travellers, use Vienna airport.”
While a complete highway connection between
Bratislava and Košice is still
lacking, the cities are connected by rail as well as air.
But experts do not expect
that the latest changes in
support for rail transport,
where train fares are free or
discounted to a significant
portion of the population,
will affect the air connection
between Bratislava and
Košice.
Kajánek believes that the
domestic line between Bratislava and Košice should be
understood and operated as
an offer of transport for
higher middle business clients and meet the needs and
expectations of this group of
passengers. In his opinion
even after the latest changes
in the rail fares would not
mean competition for air
transport on this route.
Kazda agrees, adding
that the latest changes in rail
transport are targeted on
groups of passengers who are
not perspective for domestic
air transport.
“Domestic air transport
is justified between Bratislava and Košice with connections to Prague or another hub,” said Kazda. “Connecting Žilina to some important hub with a stop at
another regional airport, for
example in Brno or Ostrava,
to fully use the capacity of
the route could be similarly
promising.”
More airlines use the Bratislava airport.
Photo: Sme
10 December 1 – 7, 2014
10 December 1 – 7, 2014
CULTURE / FOCUS
CULTURE / FOCUS
Connecting with the classics
JAZZ: Goe
NESSwww.spectator.sk
/ NEWSConnecting
BUSINESS
November
24the
– 30, 2014 classics
9 / NEWS
April 6 – 19,
2015 9
CULTURE
/ FOCUS
with
JAZZ:
round
February
9 also
– 22,had
2015
9Goes
members
at their
disYoung Slovak
posal whole portfolios, so that
section
of the Music
Centre
members also had at their dis- they can evaluate if the comNovember
24 – compete,
30, 2014 9
Currently,
there are
the
painters
Young Slovak
Slovakia – due to the composal whole portfolios, so that
Continued from pg 8
dal
heads
GDP:
Economy
to scrutiny
FIRM:Košice
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draws
CARE: Nurses
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RETAIL: Shopping
displaymodernism
works
painters compete,
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GDP:
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slow
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habits changing
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Continued from pg 8
peting painting is not a mere
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participating (with prospects
peting painting is not a mere
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“When looking at a paintof one Vienna-based and one
He used
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Continued from pg 1
born Amália Moskowitz (Anna
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Slovakia
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tory
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Over
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its
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Na- bidsmust,
saidThe
Furman.
“Moreover,
person-the
heexhibition,
added,
as well
as
“Theis calling
result
isperiod.
intelliThe
chooses
one
performer
to
result for
is usually
between
thewithout
concerts
that
Runners-up
organised
the
GDP kitsch,”
growth
places
generated,
ofcreditors,
which
gent
picture
that
tests
the
limparticipate,
disone
of
the
four
members
of
the
by
the
VÚB
Foundation,
is
free
enced
by
a
more
intense
the
July-September
tenders
and
that
it
was
the
KDH
for
a
special
a sumption,
court
protection
from
with
the
nurses
and
doctors
employees,”
Čislák
said,
as
ruptcy,
damaging
tionalpicture
Gallery’s
Esterházy
new participate,
centres and retail
parks
coffee
houses
and children
European stream of Symbol- gent
Thefour
East-Slovak
Museum
that
tests
lim-market
without
one
of the
members
of the
makes
jazzmen
contact
the
VÚB generated
Foundation,
is free is
was
also
influ5,500
were
created
during
itsby
of
contemporary
paintthe
the
2014
Jan
inoccurring
the Nedbalka
Gallery
ondisNed-quotedcussing
Second
place
went
tothe
Matej
consolidation
of jury,
public
which
such
session
on
creditors
onpositively
September
and Painting
the year
before
by SITA,
“I choice
needlose
towith
thwarting
bankruptcy
andfinset- parliamentary
Photo:
Sme
Palace
the
exhibition
also
attract
international
conmpact ofPainting
corners
for the shopping
ism
with
expression
form,
led by inspiring
and 26
creative
its
of
contemporary
paintcussing
the
choice
with
the
2014
jury,
Jan
and
theTorfs
“common
drive”.
in
the
Nedbalka
Gallery
on
NedSecond
place
went
to
Matej
enced
by
a
more
intense
the
July-September
period.
ances
and
growth
in
investOutlooks
prices.
He
sees
Fico’s
criticism
ing,”
Kusá
commented.
Váhostav-SK.
others.
concluded
that
Skřivánek
told
the
Sme
daily.
to
launch
the
restructuring
parliamentary
elections.
find
out
what
the
problem
is
tlement
proceedings,
preferbalova
Street
daily
from
13:00
Fabian
with
a
large-sized
moshowed
at the
East Slovak Galthat offer
employment
is appar-Skřivánek
families.
curators
Bartošová,
Alexandra
head
Josef
Polák,
young
law- Fabian
Kusá
commented.
Torfs
concluded
that
told
the
daily.
Asked
what
was
the
Street
daily from
13:00 cerns
with
a large-sized
mo- ing,”
consolidation
of Sme
public
finSme cancel
theThis
contract
withwill
Medments
byFlorek,
the
public
sector
eand
coman indirect
confession
that
want
toare
deal
with
thisof as balova
process.
process
al- a“But
the
health-care
and I will
give
informential
treatment
of all
creditors
there
arefinal
ongoing
discuswith
it
holds
and others.
19:00,
except
Mondays,
of“We
skiers
– or
they
ghosts?
The
Bratislava
version
opportunities.”
nto:
one“But
Looking
ahead,
the
main Moreover,
Homoľová
and
Michal
Burdz- tiflery.
yer
and
art
lover,
represented
ances
and
growth
in
investOutlooks
there
are
ongoing
discus- ation about
with
Florek,
it
all
holds
project’s
ultimate
asset for
and
19:00,
except
Mondays,
tif
of
skiers
–
or
are
they
ghosts?
ical
Group
SK.
Yet,
director
of
and
companies.
Paška
Slovakia’s
economic
the
first
Fico
government
set
and
other
cases,
which
we
conlow
the
firm
to
reduce
part
of
its
sector
had
a
series
of
scanwhat
I
am
going
and
fraud.
sions
between
musicians,
together.
He
works
with
this
through
December
21.
“This
painting
surprised
us
Work
and
its
background
tors
Zuz- kind
of by
refuge
for artists
flee- inski write in the exhibition the exhibition is smaller –
h
Medments
the
public
sector
sions
together.
works
with
this
him,
said
that the
through
December
21. and
“This
painting
surprised
us in
Work
and
its
background
hospital
Mária
Domčeková
“[Companies]
areare
carryprices
politically
sider
to be
fraudulent
conduct
performance
in
the
next
few
debts
andHe
avoid
liquidation.
The form,
dals in
2014between
making musicians,
the
to do in
this
hospital
during
“The
whole
process
ofvery
reand
soNikitin
the first
concert
is
but
his
artworks
closer
view,”
Skřivánek
said. highway
comprising
a mere
one
floor,
,idence
in of
the the
brochure.
ing
the
aftermath
of Hungariector
and
companies.
Slovakia’s
economic
and
so
the
first
concert
is
form,
but
his
artworks
are
very
interesting
thing
was to finein
closer
view,”
Skřivánek
said.
Aupark
retools
image
not
via
transparent
competiagainst
the
weak,
conduct
in
an
interview
with
Sme
on
ing
out
hitherto
postponed
Bratislava
I
District
Court
acused
to
public
more
sensitive
to
this
week
for
sure.”
structuring
of
Váhostav-SK
months
will
be
mainly
inwith
some
of
the
paintings
of
Koloman
Other
notable
names
of
this
an
revolution.
He
founded
an
usually
quite
different
than
up-to-date.
His
painting
of
the
“It
is
very
sculpted,
pasty,
even
The
exhibition
of
indiCompiled
by
Zuzana
čeková
“[Companies]
are
carryperformance
inprojects
thepasty,
nextand
few which
usuallySzalay
quite commendifferent than
painting
of the
theor- “It
tune the different styles and
is very
sculpted,
even
The byexhibition
of in
indi-tions, TASR Compiled
by Zuzana
wrote.
theslowdown
powerful
but
cepted
the His
request.
looks
like it
said
November
12,
that
modernisation
enfluence
of the up-to-date.
the
graphic
artworks
period
inis fraudulent,”
Košice
include
art
school
atinsisted
the museum,
the last one.
teller
machine
ismainly
a very
in- afluenced
reliefsuits
painting.
It isdifferent
a very
vidual artists
can be slightly such cases.
using Sme
Vilikovská
Sme
on teller
ing
outVáhostav-SK
hitherto
postponed
months
will
be
inthe
last
one.
machine
is
a
very
intemperaments
of the partia
relief
painting.
It
is
a
very
vidual
artists
can
be
slightly
using
Sme
Vilikovská
The
KDH
head
also
reharms
not
only
the
economy
Now
is
workted
that
Volák
was
forced
to
Lipšic,
as
cited
by
SITA.
“The
The
role of the minister
purchase
came
after
a
legitimcapacity
expansion,
a
deby
the
the
eurozone
and
the
ongothanpicture
those shown
in Košice.
an modFrantišektestimony
Foltýn,
Gejza
ganised 200 exhibitions.
adjustments,
butNémeth
also
THE BRATISLAVA
shopping
This year, Ruben
of Schilour
– already
in how confusing
for people.
The jury visual report
by Jana
hat
the teresting
projects
and teresting
fluenced
by
the
slowdown
in good
This
year,
Ruben
of plan
our
cipants, “but we have found a
good
picture
– the
already
in
confusing
forcrisis.
people.
The
jurycalled
report
byisJana
Németh leave
that
current
Transport
but
also
realexhibition
families,”
said
KDH
ingmodernisation
on
itstestimony
restructuring
after
thenew
current
scanproblem
is that
course
ofhow
reate
tender.
velopment
that
is
indicated
ing
Ukrainian
Based
The
is
open
ler,
Konštantín
Bauer
and
AlOne
such
artists-immiby
attracting
brands
centre
Aupark
launching
Machtelinckx
from Belgium
egitimcapacity expansion, a de- world.”
the eurozone and the ongo- well he has mastered such a
Machtelinckx
fromone.
Belgium Meanwhile
common opposition
language and I
has
such
Ján Počiatek
behaved
Jánfar,
Figeľ,
cited by Minister
when
the
committee
of creddal
not
the
previous
structuring
ismastered
fraudulent,
fora chairman
In an
unexpected
turn,
the
by ahe
gradual
recovery
in
on
data thus
SLSP
eshe short-world.”
exander
Bortnyik
–from
although
grant
was
Eugen
Krón
who well
thatand
have
not
been
represenreconstruction
– more
than
daily,
except
forasMondays,
velopment
that is indicated
ing
Ukrainian
crisis.
Based
(guitar),
Nikolaj
Nikitin to
from
Florek,
a
graduate
the
format.”
when
acceptedbea
itors
consisting
Slovenská
“His
[Volák]
mistake
was
example
how
claims
partiesthink
NOVA,
Ordinary
from
authorised
representative
of format.”
long-term
loans
provided
tosix TASR.
timates
the10:00
GDPand
growth
foruntil similarly
(guitar),
Nikolaj
Nikitin
Florek,
a graduate
from
the
that
we managed
t Repubthe
last
stayed
only
forficlater
onrecovery
toofrun
his
ted on
the
Slovak
market
so from
10 years
sincehe
originally
between
18:00
urn,
the
by a went
gradual
in ownBanská
on
data
thus
far,
SLSP
esSlovakia
(saxophone),
Charly
Bystrica
Artthe
Academy,
Nonetheless,
the
motif
is price
of
€410
million
for
conHe
pointed
out
that
under
Sporiteľňa,
ČSOB
and
Tatra
that
he
let
the
situation
to
People
and
Independent
titious
companies
in
Cyprus
Medical
Group
SK,
Juraj
Koval,
companies,”
said
Pánis.
2014
at
2.2
percent.
VÚB
esSlovakia
(saxophone),
Charly
Banská
Bystrica
Art
Academy,
create
something
new
and
Nonetheless,
motif
is
eftistof
in- graphic
months,the
his stays
school
School
ing built. The goal is to renew far.
March 15. Admission is free, as
tive
long-term
loans(Krón’s
provided
to timates
GDP
growth
for in important,
Vilmart
from France
for between
his
paintings
unaccording
to struction
of with
the Višňové
highrestructuring
fivein
Banka,
as well
as
theErika
construcreach
the state
when
it
Personalities
(OĽaNO)
and (double
and
Belize
are
registered.”
sacked
its
director
Bilá
timates
year’s
economic
tal
had selects
Juraj
Valachy,
senior
Vilmart
from
France
(double
for
his
paintings
un- selects
interesting”.
important,
according
to the
country,
Weimar
and
Budapest.
ofcompanies,”
Graphics),
while
also
teach“Within
one
year,
several
the mall
a new design
it process
is forthis
allofSNG
exhibitions
Koval,
said
Pánis.
2014
at
2.2
percent.
VÚB
esbass)
and
Jeff
Herr
fromfound
attractive,
ignored
places
and
Skřivánek.
“It
gives
the
viewway
tunnel,
a
price
55
percent
shell
companies
have
been
cretion
company
Doprastav
and
draws
such
media
attenFreedom
and
Solidarity
(SaS)
Lipšic
has
also
suspicions
for
what
he
called
damaging
growth
at
2.4
percent,
while
o
puranalyst
with
Tatra
Banka
bass)
and
Jeff
Herr
from
attractive,
ignored
places
and
He
added
that
they
Skřivánek.
“It
gives
the
viewtheBilá
new ing and
During
guided
lecture, Bratislava this year. Apart from
artsenior
personal- timates
new novelties will appear,”
and adapt it to current
ka
thisayear’s
economic
Jurajforming
Valachy,
(drums)
poetry
in
them.
a and
disquieting,
provoking
than that estimated by
ated
that
there
is(available
a seri- lower
subcontractor
Lomark,
retion,”
Szalay
said.
beganLuxembourg
on
Marchplayed
that
representatives
company’s
reputation.
The
next
year
itin
may
accelerate
Definirecalled
that
data
Luxembourg
certain
poetry
inBanka
them.
aclamouring
concord and
understanding
er
acertain
disquieting,
provoking
ecame finds
a the
the
curators
mentioned
as ofan er
ities
like with
Július
Jakoby
and
thefinds
Arnaud
Burlin,
CEO(drums)
of the played
trends.
a bulletin
English
maging
growth
at
2.4monthly
percent,
while
analyst
Tatra
Bratislava,
invote
Ormes;
“He year
has
athem
techthem
to the state’s
of €900 milous
suspicion
that in the
comturned
its draft
on
March
31 for impression;
When
dealingcompany
with
the near
24 for in
aalso
no-confident
for near
Váhostav-SK
at
theanalysts
time
when
board
of
the
comtoat2.6
percent.
emens
based
on which
es- to impression;
in Bratislava,
in Ormes;
“He
has
acquired
a techon the human
level,
in
forcing
outstanding
example,
maybe
aforementioned
Sokol.
Unibail-Rodamco
Theexperts
reconstruction
that
the
box forcing
office),
the
cataon.
The supervisory
next
itacquired
may
accelerate
recalled
that
monthly
data
mittee
ofaccompanying
creditors
there
were
reworking.
firm
hasknown
15 days
Volák
behaved
Čislák,Reims,
SITA reported.
they
were
signing
contracts
for react.
pany
allegedly
had
not
France
in mid- even
which
is were
tricky,
and
Valachy
expects
thatlooking
the
million
timate
the
economic
develAnd
we were
roup
differing
from
other
artists,
Another
central
figure
which
operates
Aupark
logue
the
ex- lion.is already underway will last departures
Reims,
France
in midnique
which
is
tricky,
and
humour
and mentioned
react.
And
we
looking
e com-of
to
2.6
percent.
based
onThe
which
analysts
es-ofnique
Fico also
recalled
thatwill
the
companies
which
have
funtoKošice
respond.
confidently
and
said
thatde
his
Despite
thein
current
highway
construction
back
in exactly
about
theModernism
million
deal,
upcoming
coner
offi- combines
opment,
compared
October;
Abbaye
itworsened
with
banal
city
that
can
ld
otherAnna
Lesnay,
local
artist
who
isdevelAnton
Bratislava,
said.
exuntil
October
2015 and
hibitionformonths
ispaintings
also will
available
in
known
Valachy
expects
that
the
timate
the
economic
October;
in “For
Abbaye
it€1.6
with
banal
city combines
an ambition
to meetdeoutside
exactly
for
paintings
that
can
current
law
on
restructuring
nelled
state
payments
to
exotIn in
original
plan
it corners
decision
was
definitely
not
tense
situation
in
the
2011
knew
that
they
would
not
sealed
summer.
A to
few
tinue
to
be
under
the
influSmer
to
the
previous
quarter.
Neumünster
in the capital
of
–
a
soda
machine,
the
activate
people.
With
many
of
pn in
Cze-corners
collected
folk
embroidery,
deJaszusch
who
returned
the
ample,
the
US
brand
of
luxcost
€15.5
million.
ReconEnglish.
I
comprises
140
pages
deal,
upcoming
months
will
conopment,
worsened
compared
Neumünster
in
the
capital
of
– its
athe
soda
machine,
the
the project – which
is rather
activate people. With many of
adoptedwill
by not
thelimit
second
ic
planned
settle
15
percent
voluntary,
according
toagain
sector Fico
notespebetinue
able
to
pay
their
subcondays
theyears’
company
hadof corner
ence
of
the€10.
Russo-Ukrainian
er
the corner
“The
most
important
A few
to
be
under
thethe
influto earlier,
the
previous
quarter.
Luxembourg
andisagain
in
ofwe
apatterns
parking
lot,
wall
we
said
thatsotheythat
are wasstruction
ed
there
signed
and
organised
city
after
five
imprisonury clothing
Ralphand
Lauren
or in health-care
and destinations
costs
Luxembourg
of
ato
parking
lot,
the
wall
demanding,
though,
them,
said
that
they
are them,
Dzurinda
cabinet
and
Váhostav-SK
need
notsomewhat
fully pay Mikuláš
itsment
ormost
€15.7
to
political
analyst
considering
dismissal
of FOR Sale
tractors.
it“The
was
prepared
to file
conflict, “which
further
ement
for
our
economy,
inhad ofsaid
ence
ofdepartment
the
Russo-Ukrainian
important
asector
commercial
manufacin
Russia,
tomillion
develop
hisofwell-mastered
Italian
brand
Sylvia
Aupark’s
operation
in any
rny
years,”
Slovakia,
at theasJazz
asmall
store,”
well-mastered
but
Slovakia,
at Jan
theHeach.”
Jazz FOR Sale
adebts
department
store,”
cially for
him,
he lives
but somewhat
781 proposals for restrucits debts.Byincreasing
small
and
Baránek.
He mono-brand
referred to
Čislák,festival
he saidin
onKošice,
the side“It of
is grew
very
important
that
lawsuits
over
the
claims comthat
rate of but thatway.
nd
andustry,
only
at half
the academic:
to daily.
file Skřivánek
conflict,
“which
further
sector
formedium-sized
our
economy,
inture
embroidery.
Les-nay,
own
style
combining
theSkřivánek
The
first
vda
Zuzana
Vilikovská
at the“But
becontinued.
“The
well-painted,
festival
in Košice, at the becontinued.
“The
1,500 kilometres
away.
academic:
well-painted,
but means an
submitted
between
to the Sieť
party, turing were
panies.
secured
credVolák’s
statement
thatwill
if
lines of the government
bodies
active
inwith
prosecution
CT So-called
scanner
was
overriskAccording
and uncertainty”.
Tatra
r for
a the
pace compared
the
first
ms
that
means
an
ratemaof
dustry,
grew
only
at half
thepainting
shopginning
of Pandora
jewels
Analysts
say the
reconginning
offrom
November.
The
of increasing
the
teller
the
artists
does
not risk
and
of
November.
The
painting
of
the
teller
maJeff
Herr
Luxembourg
the
artists
does
not
risk
and
and 2014,
outcentre
of which
of the
itors,
are especially
banks
nurses
didlhere,
not change
their session in Trenčín on March
start
deal
with theofcase
Banka does
notrestructuring
count in its of 2006struction
ce,overTV priced.
and to
second
quarters
thisas victims
risk
and
uncertainty”.
Tatra
pacethat
compared
with the
firstchine,
be opened
too.
of the
is intook
place
on
too,
remindsthat
me the
of
the
provoke.” need immediate courts
last
took the
place on 25. last
chine,
too,
reminds
mewas
of the
evenconcert
proposed
two
concerts
allowed
526 restructurhave
secured
their
minds
heconcert
would
close
soon
as possible
re- Váhostav-SK
Medical
Group
SK
co- provoke.”
prognosis with a further esOctober that
year,”
Valachy
wrote
Banka
does notso
countin
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its
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CULTURE
10 April 6 – 19, 2015
Whippings all in good
fun as Easter tradition
BY ZUZANA VILIKOVSKÁ
Spectator staff
IN SLOVAKIA old pagan seasonal rituals must have survived the country’s conversion
to Christianity and one need
look no further than the Easter
tradition of whipping girls and
women with homemade
switches.
Made from young willow
branches, the whippings are
followed by a splashing with
with water, ideally ice-cold.
Both are meant to guarantee
girls and women stay young,
fit and beautiful all year long.
The tradition became
linked with Easter after
Christianity came to Slovakia
in the ninth century, some
sources suggest. But the traditions originated as part of
folk beliefs based on nature’s
cycle. Though a moveable
holiday, Easter generally coincides with the arrival of
spring and thus is celebrated
as a time of new life and rebirth.
Processions were meant to
drive away evil spirits, houses
were decorated with vegetation, and whipping and water
were employed to ensure a
young woman’s fertility and
beauty. It was believed that
the vitality from the young
twigs entwined in the whip
would flow into the female
body. Boys and men were
offered decorated eggs, which
also symbolised new life.
The ancient rites have
changed with the gradual urbanisation of Slovakia, and in
the cities, women are rather
sprayed with a perfume and
Traditional Easter in SNM, Martin.
symbolically hit once or twice
with whatever apt “beating”
tool men can find. Eggs given
as a reward for their “beating”
are often also rather massmade or chocolate ones, instead of the originally handmade decorated eggs; the style,
technique and ornament used
to be typical for each village,
town, or region.
The days preceding Easter
Monday are generally reserved
and religiously oriented, but
on this day, a distinctly unChristian atmosphere breaks
out. Starting in early morning,
males visit their female relatives, friends and colleagues,
whipping them with a
“korbáče” and splashing them
with water. Instead of being
reported to the police, they are
offered eggs, sweets, cakes and
alcohol.
During White Saturday
there were several other customs connected with agriculture, health and protection of
one’s home. Preparation of the
Easter Sunday meal – ham,
eggs, lamb and cakes – began.
Fried rolls with poppy seeds or
sheep’s cheese and sauerkraut
soup were traditionally eaten
on White Saturday.
Photo: Courtesy of SNM
Easter Sunday – the day of
Christ’s resurrection – is an
opportunity to bless Easter
meals and a time for ceremonial fare. Before Easter dinner,
an egg was also divided among
all family members to remind
them not to forget each other
and to stick together.
For those wishing to try
and revive some of the old customs and handicrafts, there
are some opportunities today.
The ÚĽUV centre of traditional
arts and crafts each year offers
some workshops on egg decorating, but it is advisable to
check whether they are offered
also in English at its website,
www.uluv.sk.
The museums and venues administered by the
Slovak National Museum
also offer some Easter decorations and an insight into
Slovak traditions in Martin,
at Betliar and Bojnice castles,
in the Museum of Ruthenian
Culture in Prešov, or close to
Bratislava, at the Červený
Kameň (Red Stone) castle.
More information can be
found at www.snm.sk.
Some smaller museums
of local cultural centres also
offer exhibitions of decorated Easter eggs or special
Easter whips, the korbáče.
Many cities and towns
offer Easter markets with
traditional goods and meals,
and some places even organise the re-enactment of the
Via Dolorosa, Christ’s walk to
the crucifixion.
The ski season ends in
many resorts around Easter,
too, and in Kremnica, a fun
event called Easter Egg is organised annually, requiring
skiers to masquerade. This
year, doctors and nurses are
preferred at this mock Easter
skiing – probably to emphasise the recent series of scandals in the health-care sector. It takes place on Easter
Monday at 14:00 in downtown Kremnica.
THE INTERNATIONAL film
festival Febiofest, which
takes place in both successor
countries of Czechoslovakia,
the Czech Republic and Slovakia, ran for just a week in
Bratislava but it was rich in
events.
At its opening in the
Slovak capital, the annual
awards of the Association of
Slovak Film Clubs (ASFK)
were announced – to US actor
Isaach Bankolé who plays in
a western titled Mirage that
launched the festival and to
Slovak scriptwriter and director Eduard Grečner. The
best club (meaning art) film
for 2014 was the Polish movie
Ida and the best club cinema
was Lumiere in Bratislava,
the TASR newswire wrote.
More awards were given
in the competition for short
films made in the Visegrad
Four (V4) countries – Slovakia, the Czech Republic,
Poland and Hungary – as well
as in Belarus. The international jury of three members
chose the Polish feature film
Milky Brother by Vahran
Mchitarjan as the winner
while several other movies,
including Czech and Slovak
ones, were selected for other
awards from among the total
of 24 films.
After the week of showings in the capital (between
March 20 and 26) when more
than 100 movies were
screened in 12 sections, the
22nd year of the festival
moved to other Slovak cities
and towns: Trenčín, Levice,
Košice, Prešov, Martin,
Kežmarok, Trnava, Prievidza
and Banská Bystrica.
Within Febiofest, “Works
in Progress” were also
presented, including those
by renowned directors or
those which have already
received awards and honorary mentions at festivals
abroad. Three of them – Koza
(directed by Ivan
Ostrochovský), Eva Nova
(Marko Škop) and Sedem
zhavranelých bratov (Allice
Nelis) – will be released in
2015 while others need more
time before they arrive at
cinemas.
The screening of the
Hungarian movie Mirage on
March 20 was attended not
only by director Szabolcs
Hajdu but also by its prominent cast, Hollywood actor
Isaach de Bankolé (a favourite actor of director Jim Jarmusch) who plays alongside
a mostly Hungarian cast –
including eight Slovak actors
who speak Hungarian, such
as Attila Mokos, Adam Mihál
and others. The co-producer,
Matyás Prikler, also hails
from Slovakia.
Mirage tells the story of
an African footballer (de
Bankolé) who is searching for
a job and finds himself in the
Hungarian countryside, at
one of the farms where
people are forced to work like
modern slaves, often falling
prey to human traffickers
and international criminals
who had taken over the
emptied farms after the economic crisis.
Slovak audiences can see
the unusual, modern centralEuropean western currently
running in several cinemas,
for instance at the Lumiere
in Bratislava, as well as in
Prešov, Žilina and elsewhere.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská
Easter celebrated traditionally, by
re-enactment or by record
Easter exhibition at the culture centre in Trebišov.
Photo: TASR
Latino meets jazz on the Danube
IN THE world of jazz, international collaborations and musical mergers are not
unusual. However, the Rio Danubio album combines not just Latin and classical jazz, but interesting musicians as
well.
It consists of two quite different parts
recorded in two separate sessions. In the
first, Brazilian drummer Andre Antunes
performs – together with Slovaks Roland
Kaník on piano, trombonist Michal
Motýľ, Pavol Bereza on guitar, bass players Juraj Griglák and Michal Šimko, as
well as Slovak-Peruvian percussionist
Eddy Portella). Mainstream jazz “classics” can be found here, including “Here’s
the Rainy Day”, which Rothenstein dedicated to musicians of the US West Coast,
like Jim Hall and Paul Desmond.
The second “session”, called Latin
Evening, includes drummer Marian
Ševčík, bass player Vlado Máčaj and pianist Ľubomír Šrámek, along with Portella.
“I met with flutist Jorge Pardo who
used to play with Paco de Lucia, along
with other musicians, and we loosely
agreed that he could record some songs
Febiofest shows films, launches a
Hungarian western
with me,” Rothenstein said at the launch
of the album on March 14. “Unfortunately, it did not work out as he was busy,
but I had already prepared some tunes
and so we decided to record them on an
album.”
The launch involved not just “Godfathers”, jazzman Peter Lipa and producer Peter Stankovský, who launched the
album into life but also Matúš Jakabčic of
the state Music Fund, which also supported the release of the album. Jakabčic
is Rothenstein’s former professor and he
wished all the best for “perhaps Slovakia’s only saxophonist who consistently focuses on baritone saxophone”.
Slovak trumpeter Martin Ďurdina
was also supposed to play on this album,
but died last summer. One piece of the selection, Maurice Ravel’s Kaddish, is dedicated to him – and also to Rothenstein’s
late uncle Jaro Tonyk.
“The album was meant to be a little in
the Amy Winehouse style and Andre Antunes was logistically the closest – he
lives in Ireland – and he used to play with
her,” Rothenstein told The Slovak Spectator. “So we invited him and he accep-
ted.”
The baritone saxophonist admitted
that the original plan was different, but
the death of Ďurdina changed things, and
in the end there are just two pieces composed by Rothenstein himself, the
eponymous Rio Danubio, and Bebe Rebe
(dedicated to his small daughter); while
the Kaddish is a step more into the classical music realm, while also a tribute to
the late musician.
Rothenstein said about his plans that
there are stints planned with Michal
Motýľ Tentet, CZ/SK Big Band of Matúš
Jakabčic. Apart from jazz, a more pop oriented project is being prepared with Irish song-writers (but without more specific details) and Rothenstein also plays
in the Lento ad Astra band with Zita
Slavíčková classical music – impressionist arranged for baritone saxophone.
Rio Danubio is also one of the 13 nominations for the Esprit Award for Slovak
jazz musicians. Esprit Awards will be
handed out on International Jazz Day,
April 30.
By Zuzana Vilikovská
EASTER is quite a popular
and well-observed holiday in
Slovakia, but ways to stress
its importance, or to share its
message with others, can
vary a great deal. In the
eastern-Slovak city of Prešov,
there is a thriving tradition
of re-enactment, with the
Last Supper performed on
April 1 in front of the Concathedral of St Nicolaus at
17:00. Two days later, on
Good Friday, the Live Way of
the Cross starts at 10:00, with
14 stops. The city hall informed the SITA newswire
that 30 volunteers participated in the performances of
the last days of Jesus Christ.
In the previous year, around
4,000 people came to watch
the authentic re-telling of
the events surrounding the
Easter period.
In the High Tatras, an
Easter Town will appear: in
Nový Smokovec, a centre of
traditional crafts, folk performances, competitions
and regional gastronomy
will be built, striving also to
make a new record in the
number of Easter eggs hung
on the Tatra Easter tree, the
TASR newswire informed. In
April 4, from 12:00; folk music, entertainers and events
for children will attract locals and tourists to this
mountain spa site, situated
about five minutes’ walk
from the Starý Smokovec
railway station.
Bardejov, another town
in eastern Slovakia, has the
biggest hand-decorated
Easter egg in all of Slovakia –
it has a diameter of 411 centimetres and is 213 centimetres tall. Made of Styrofoam, construction glue and
façade plaster, it was decorated by 20 children from two
elite classes of the Komenský
Elementary School in Bardejov. The town received a certificate for the record egg,
according to TASR. On March
27, a total of 420 children
came to the central Radničné
(Town-hall) Square, bringing
with them traditionally decorated eggs and hanged them
on nearby trees, close to the
giant egg – which is placed in
a big wicker nest to be
lighted at night. The Bardejov Easter decorations can be
seen until April 13.
Compiled by Spectator staff
CULTURE
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BRATISLAVA
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play in Bratislava with the
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Starts: Dec 1, 19:00; Istropolis, Trnavské Mýto 1. Admission: €20-€40. Tel: 02/52933321; www.ticketportal.sk.
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Emanuel Cenčic is considered one
of the greatest singers in the
world in his category; he received
the Best Singer 2003 award from
the German musical magazine
Opernwelt. He performs famous
arias, as well as pieces from lessknown or undiscovered operas in
prestigious opera houses, at
festivals and on tours. On
December 6 at 19:30, he will give
a performance in the concert hall
of Reduta, Slovak Philharmonic
building,
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moved to December, combining the performances of Slovaks; organist Marek Štrbák,
drummer Lenka Novosedlíková and young guitar player
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singer Cheita
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by Atelier
Slopresident
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feature
and documentaries,
tarist Morenito
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and in churches/music
Brati-slava,
choreographed
coproduction
Jáchairmanship
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shortand medium-length
a special
flamenco
crosshalls downtown.
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directed
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Marta
True History,
were elected last au- nošík
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tional artists that connect po- etry onEastern
nowadays: the art of poetry.
to lure
visitors
duction
in Slovakia,”festival
presid- etry
Juraj
Lehotský,
has English
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of Independent
Culand Slovak
visual art:
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at home,
ST NICOLAS
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sainta who
in Slovakia
givesfive
presents
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that
are and
the
production
debate
terstmas
the playing
movie
means
willotherbe
Karol
Chmel
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duo
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poetry
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at
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full
programme
of
the
oneers.
Slovak
poetry
will
be
ival’s
12th
year
is
Ron
Padgett,
Starts:
Dec
6,
19:00;
PKO
dren’s Historical Railway organises a special train ride, the last in 2014.
viewers
or won
prizes
at
in- festival
and
viewers.
“The
titles.
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cost
€3-€4
can
be found
at
arspoby ofthe
leading
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US poet,
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borough
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festivals.
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April
1-12 and
for 051/7723-741;
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of three
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train
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his entourage
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screened
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of Slovak
FilmTickets
as
a repSlovakpkopresov.sk.
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theof
terminal
station.
- €3 (children)-€5
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can be
Ján
Karol
Chmel
and
one
the
prominent
figures
miere
in Špitálska 4, between
display,
complete
oncontemporary
the spot. More
information
at www.detskazeleznica.sk.
Jana
Pácalová.
ofresentative
American
Compiled by Zuzana
By Zuzana
Vilikovská
Photo:
Courtesy
of Children’s
1 and
12.
with who
accompanying
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Vilikovská
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24.1.2013
16:31
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1 April
Ron
Padgett,
whose Railway
How
poetry,
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Vilikovská
HISTORY TALKS
HISTORY TALKS
Slovak films shown in English
Festival courts US poet
N A M E
M onday
Monday
Alfonz
Irena
January 28
April 6
April 6 – 19, 2015
December 1 – 7, 2014
December 1 – 7, 2014
D A Y
J A N U A R Y - F E B R U A R Y
Western SLOVAKIA
Western SLOVAKIA
ca
January 29
April 7
Albert
Milena
Igor
e fou d at w w w .spec a to r.sk /w ea ther.
January 30
April 8
January 31
April 9
F ebruary 1
April 10
F ebruary 2
April 11
Photo: Courtesy of BHS
ing
the isborders
of countries,
Adam
a masterpiece
of the
traditions
in
Romanticand
era modernism,
of ballet; choAndalusian
On December
reographedflair.
by Jospeh
Mazilier
7,and
theyconnected
will perform
in the
with
theNitra
heytheatre
Andrej Russian
Bagar. ballet.
day of of
classical
Dec
Arénain
TheStarts:
version
to 5,
be 19:15,
premiered
Theatre,
Viedenská
10.is
the Slovak
National Cesta
Theatre
Admission:
€15-€20.
Tel:
inspired by the
version of
le02/6720-2550
or www.divadgendary Marius
Petipa, while
loarena.sk,
www.ticketstaged by Vasily Medvedev.
portal.sk.
Starts: April 16 (11:00), 1718, 19:00; new SND building,
BRATISLAVA
Pribinova 17. Admission: €6n FOLKLORE:
65th
an€25.
Tel:
02/2047-2299;
niversary
of
SĽUK
–
The
lewww.snd.sk.
gendary folklore ensemble
SĽUK
celebrates its 65th birthBratislava
day
with a show that comn PARTY/INTERNATIONAL:
bines
old traditionsnetwork
as well as
The Internations
ormodernist
ideas, directed
by
ganises monthly
parties and
Juraj
Hamar.
“ice-breaking activities” for
Starts: Dec
19:00;
DPOHor
foreigners
new4, to
the city,
City
Theatre,
Laurinská
19.
the country.
Admission:
€10-€12.
Starts: April
17, 18:00;Tel:
The
02/5910-3107;
Taste Wine Bar, www.mestLaurinská 8.
skedivadlo.sk.
Admission: €8. More info:
www.facebook.com/InternaBRATISLAVA
ntionsBratislava.
CHRISTMAS MUSIC: 9th International Festival of ChristBratislava
mas
Music – The festival of
n PHOTO EXHIBITION: Takí
Christmas
music features
ako my from
/ Just Like
Us – Thethe
exchoirs
Slovakia,
hibition
of
talented
Czech Republic,
Russia,young
The
Roma
photographers
UK,
Ireland,
Lithuania, from
PoVtáčkovce
can
seen inand
the
land, South be
Africa,
capital’s University
Library
Ukraine,
at Bratislava
Mainin
April, and
within
the Roma learnSquare
in churches/music
ing to
Fly project, also supporhalls
downtown.
Photo: Courtesy of Orepole
Dec
4-7, various
tedStarts:
by other
initiatives.
From
times
Admission:
there,and
it venues.
then moves
on to
free.
More
info:and
www.citylBanská
Bystrica
Košice.
ife.sk.
Open: April 8-April 29, Exhibition Hall of the University
BRATISLAVA
Library, Michalská 1. Tel:
n ART HAPPENING: Ashley
02/2046-6105; www.ulib.sk.
Bell Clark, “Known and Unknown Is All The Same Land” –
The US
artist SLOVAKIA
will present in
Central
the capital her personifications
Žilinaof plants, nature and
landscape
symbolising
n CLASSICAL
MUSIC: huAlman
ambitions,
and also
legretto
Žilina festival
of feaclastures
sical video-installations
music celebrates 25and
and
other
offersworks.
four concerts between
Starts:
Dec
2,
18:00;
A4
April 13 and 18; with the openKultúry,
Priestor
Súčasnej Slovak
ing one bringing
sopKarpatská
2. Admission:
free.
rano Andrea
Vizvári and Czech
More
info: www.citylife.sk.
violinist
Josef Špaček with
Janáček Philharmonic from
Ostrava, conducted by HunCentral
SLOVAKIA
garian
Gergely
Madaras.
Starts: April 13, 19:00 Fatra
ŽILINA
of Arts, Dolný Val 47. AdnHouse
FOLKLORE: Čaro vianoc– The
mission:
€4-€9. More info: 02
Christmas Magic – A folklore
/2047-0160;
performance taps into the old
www.hc.sk/allegretto.
Slovak
music, dances, traditions surrounding Christmas.
Banská Bystrica
Starts: Dec 7, 19:00; City
n ROMA EVENT: Balvareskle
Thea-tre,
Horný Val 3. More
čavore
– The Children of Wind
info:
www.kamdomesta.sk.
– The International Roma Day
is commemorated in the
BANSKÁ BYSTRICA
Independent Centre
nZáhrada
MODERN DANCE: Horúčava
by screening
/ ofHeatCulture
– The Laban
Atelier
movies, a discussion,
a conBrati-slava,
choreographed
cert
by
Cool
Band
Trio
Plus,
and directed by Marta
Maroš
Kováč
(accordion),
Poláková, performs the danceVladimír
Berky
(guitar),
Jozef
theatre
piece
about
friction,
Gorči (bass, double
and
communication
and bass),
tensions
Janka Tóthová
(vocals).
between
a man and
a woman,
8, 10:00-22:00;
to theStarts:
musicApril
of Martin
Polák.
Záhrada
Centre
of IndependStarts:–Dec
1, 19:00;
Theatre
ent Culture
(CNK)
in SNP
Studio
of Dance
(DŠT),
Na
Square
16
(Beniczkého
PasKačici, Komenského 12. Adsage). More
info:
mission:
€7-8.
Tel:www.zahra048/4146dacnk.sk.
540;
www.studiotanca.sk.
PREŠOV
nHigh
LIVETatras
MUSIC: Beatles Vianoce
n EASTER/SKIING:
Funny
2014
– Backwards – One of
the
MIKE Parker’s Trio / Unified Theory - Within a bigger tour, Mike Parker
ST
NICOLAS
is the
saint
who
in Slovakia
gives
on December
Trio
combines
jazz,
rock,
classical
music
and presents
avant-garde
into a spe6cific,
to children
areMike
well-behaved.
On that
day,is the
Košice Chiltypical who
sound.
Parker on double
bass
accompanied
by
organises
a special
train(saxophone).
ride, the last in
2014.
dren’s
Railway
FrankHistorical
Parker (drums)
and
Polish Bartek
Plucnal
On
April
Starting
at Alpinka
the
ČermeľKulturFabrik,
borough of Košice
at 2.
10:00
4, at 21:00,
they willstation
play atin
the
Tabačka
Gorkého
Othand
12:00, the
train will
by St Nicolas
his entourage
in
include
onebe
inawaited
the Humbook
club in and
Bardejov
(April 2) and
er concerts
the
terminal
Tickets(April
- €3 (children)-€5
in the
Wavestation.
club in Prešov
3). Tickets for(adults)
Košice can
costbe
€4bought
and can
on
spot. More
information
at www.detskazeleznica.sk.
bethe
purchased
through
www.tabacka.sk/sk.
More information at
Photo: Courtesy
Children’s
Railway
Photo:of
Courtesy
of M.
Parker
www.mptheory.com.
2N0AM
1 E3 D AY APR IL 2 0 1 5 N A M E
Július
RENOWNED countertenor Max
Emanuel Cenčic is considered one
of the greatest singers in the
world in his category; he received
the Best Singer 2003 award from
the German musical magazine
Opernwelt. He performs famous
arias, as well as pieces from lessknown or undiscovered operas in
prestigious opera houses, at
festivals and on tours. On
December 6 at 19:30, he will give
a performance in the concert hall
ofDELILAH,
Reduta, with
Slovak
herPhilharmonic
two-times postponed Bratislava concert,will fibuilding,
in Eugena
nally perform
on April 11Suchoňa
at 21:00 in Majestic Music Club in Karpatská
Square
1 in time
Bratislava.
Tickets
2; her first
in Slovakia.
The British singer (dubstep, neo-soul)
cost
€22-€30
and can
be the
bought
whose
popularity
is on
rise will present her current, second alvia
navstevnik.sk
or in
Re- to €27 (www.ticketportal.sk). More
bum.
Tickets cost €23
(inthe
advance)
duta
ticket-office.
information
can be found at www.majestic.sk.
Eastern SLOVAKIA
Eastern SLOVAKIA
Tuesday Wednesday
Thursday
Friday Saturday
Saturday Sunday
Sunday
W ednesday Thursday
Tuesday
Friday
Em
a
Em
il
Tatiana
Eri
k,
Eri
ka
Ga‰par
W eather u ates and fore asts from across SlovakiaBl aÏej
Zoltán
VENTS C
COUNTRYWIDE
OUNTRYWIDE
EEVENTS
Bratislava
n FILM: In Memoriam: Peter
BRATISLAVA
nPišťanek
LIVE MUSIC:
Takemovies
6 – The shot
10– The
time
will
basedGrammy
on works laureate
of the recently
play
in Bratislava
with Peter
the
deceased
Slovak writer
Slovak
a cappella
Fragile.in
Pišťanek
will beband
screened
Deccinema,
1, 19:00;with
IstrotheStarts:
Lumiere
the
polis,
Trnavské
Mýto(2007,
1. AdMuzika
/ Music film
dirmission:
Tel: 02/5293ected by€20-€40.
Juraj Nvota)
screened
3321;
withwww.ticketportal.sk.
English subtitles.
Starts: April 2, 18:00; LuBRATISLAVA
miere cinema, Špitálska 4. Adnmission:
CLASSICAL/LIVE
MUSIC:
€3-€4. More
info:
Cross-over
Organ with Electric
www.aic.sk/kino-lumiere.
Guitar – The last concert of the
Bratislava
BratislavaOrgan Festival was
moved
to December,
n PARTY:
MoustachecombinParty –
ing
the performances
of SlovInternationals
Bratislava,
aks;
organist
Marek
Štrbák,
striving
to bring
together
fordrummer
Lenka or Novosedeigners staying
living in
líková
and young
playera
Bratislava,
is guitar
organising
Michal
several
party Bugala
focusedplaying
on the
phepieces,
including
of
nomenon
of thea premiere
moustache,
ainviting
composition
by Lukáš
Borzík,
visitors
to bring
along
and
also improvisation.
a moustache,
fake or real.
Starts:
big
Starts: Dec
April4,9, 17:00;
22:00-4:00;
concert
studio
of the Slovak
The Club
Bratislava,
Rybné
Radio,
1. info:
Admission:
€7
SquareMýtna
1. More
www.face(CD-LP
bazár Mjuzik shop,
book.com/events/780359365387
Hummel
Music
shop,
113; [email protected]
Klobučnícka 2, Music Forum
shop,
Na Vŕšku 1). More info:
Bratislava
www.citylife.sk.
n MUSICAL: Jesus Christ Superstar – The legendary muBRATISLAVA
sical with mystic, religious
n LIVE MUSIC: Lamb – British
and symbolic themes is now
duo
(Lou Rhodes
& Andy
performed
by stars
of the BarSlovlow)
come –toPatrik
play, among
ak scene
Vykočil,othJán
erSlezák,
songs,Ivan
their
recent
album
Tásler
and his
IMT
Backspace
Unwind.
Smile, Katarína Hasprová,
Starts:
Dec and
4, 20:00;
Nela
Pocisková
others.
Majestic
Music
Club,
Directed by Ján Ďurovčík.
Karpatská
2. 8,
More
info:
Starts: April
9, 12, 15,
16,
www.majestic.sk.
17, 18, 19, 19:00; Tower Stage
theatre, Pribinova 25. AdmisBRATISLAVA
sion: €29. Tel: 02/5293-3321;
n CLASSICAL MUSIC: Advent
www.ticketportal.sk.
Concert – The concert of Austrian
soprano Antonija KoBratislava
vacevic
Slovak tenor and
n LIVE and
MUSIC: Nneka –
pianist
Mairán Bango,singer
focuses –
German-Nigerian
ofsoul,
the festive
season.
hip-hop
– returns to
Starts: Decto4, 18:00;
AustriBratislava
present
her
an Cultural Forum, Hodžovo
fourth
album,
My
Fairy
Tales.
Squ-are 1/A. Admission: free.
Starts:
April 15, 21:00;
Ateliér
Tel: 02
/5930-1500;
www.rakBabylon, SNP Square 14. Admisuskekulturneforum.sk.
sion: €25-€30. Tel: 02/2090-1900;
www.atelierbabylon.sk.
BRATISLAVA
n WORLD MUSIC: Cuadro FlaBratislava
menco
– Renowned Spanish
n BALLET/PREMIERE: Le Cordancer/choreographer
Juan
saire – Adolphe
Polvillo
will joinCharles
forces Adam
with
– The Cheita
ballet, written
by Julessinger
and Slovak
guiHenri
Vernoy
de
Sainttarist Morenito de Triana to give
Georges,
and
composed
by
a special flamenco show cross-
11
11
Estera
F ebruary
April 12
A Slovak’s name day (meniny) is as important as his or her birthday. It is traditional to present friends or co-workers with a small g
M onday
Monday
Alfonz
Aleš
January 28
April 13
D A Y
January 29
April 14
Fedor
January 30
April 15
ByZuzana
ZuzanaVilikovská
Vilikovská
By
J A N U A R Y - F E B R U A R Y
Tuesday Wednesday
Thursday
W ednesday Thursday
Tuesday
Em a
Em il
Ga‰par
Justína
Easterrespected
– Skiingbands
in seasonal
most
covermasks
will highlight
the Easting
the music
of legendary
UK
er events
in the gives
HighaTatras,
band,
the Beatles,
Chriincluding
folkatmusic
old
stmas
concert
home,and
othertraditions
(water abroad.
pouring,
wise
playing mostly
beating
women).
Starts:of Dec
6, 19:00; PKO
Starts:
5, 10:00-16:00;
Čierny
orol,April
Hlavná
50. AdŠtrbské €13.
Pleso.
More info:
mission:
Tel: 051/7723-741;
www.kamdomesta.sk.
www.
pkopresov.sk.
Friday
Friday
Tatiana
Dana
Danica
Rudolf
April 16
April 17
January 31
F ebruary 1
2 0 1 3
Saturday Sunday
Sunday
Saturday
Eri k, Eri ka
Bl aÏej
Valér
F ebruary 2
April 18
Jela
F ebruary
April 19
A Slovak’s name day (meniny) is as important as his or her birthday. It is traditional to present friends or co-workers with a small g
as chocolates
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(Happy(Happy
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owers,and
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všetko
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name day).
12
FEATURE
April 6 – 19, 2015
SPECTATOR COLLEGE
For exercises linked
to the Spectator College
programme please visit
www.spectator.sk
Spectator College is a programme to
support the study and teaching of
English in Slovakia, as well as to inspire interest in important public
issues among young people. The
project was created by The Slovak
Spectator and the Petit Academy
Foundation. Please see our online
Spectator
College
section
at
www.spectator.sk for articles,
glossaries and tips for exercises
which can be used in English lessons.
Glossary
access – prístup
aesthetic – estetický
animation – animačný
approach – prístup
art work – umelecké dielo
artist – umelec
availability – dostupnosť
collection – zbierka
commonplace – bežná súčasť
compose – skladať sa
connectivity – konektivita,
súvislosť
contemporary – súčasný
content – obsah
contribution – príspevok
creativity – tvorivosť
curricula – školské osnovy
design – naplánovať
discovery – objav
disused – nepoužívaný
draw – pritiahnuť
effort – snaha
enable – umožniť
establishment – vytvorenie
evaluation – hodnotenie
event – udalosť
evidence – dôkaz
evoke – vyvolať
exhibit –vystaviť; exponát
facility – zariadenie
familiarise – oboznámiť sa
fine art – výtvarné umenie
gallery educator – galerijný
pedagóg
get in touch – dostať sa do
styku
handle – zvládnuť
heat exchanger station –
výmenník tepla
chemistry – chémia
impact – vplyv
in advance – vopred
innovative – priekopnícky
issue – vydať
jewellery – šperky
large-scale – široký, vo
veľkom meradle
lasting – stály, trvalý
lecturer – lector
liquid – tekutý
multiple – početný
muse – múza
objective – cieľ
oeuvre – dielo
opinion – názor
opportunity – príležitosť
participation – účasť
performance – predstavenie
piece – dielo
praise – chváliť
recurring – opakujúci sa
regeneration – obnovenie
reproduction – kópia
requirement – požiadavka
resident – obyvateľ, domáci
reveal – odhaliť
scope – záber, rámec
share – zdieľať
schoolchild – školák
spirit – duch
sustain – udržať
theatre – divadlo
timetable – harmonogram
topic – téma
vibrancy – vitalita, živosť
weary – ustatý
Lesson 15
Culture and Art
Galleries connecting kids with art
BY RADKA
MINARECHOVÁ
Spectator staff
CHILDREN have multiple opportunities to directly learn
about art. Teachers sometimes
take their classes to visit galleries where students get in
touch with original art. The
aim of the special programmes, designed by galleries across Slovakia, is not only
to raise the interest of young
people in art, but also to teach
them to think critically and
express their own opinions on
what they see in the picture,
teachers and gallery educators
say.
“It is important to find
ways of drawing youth and to
reveal the beauties of fine arts,
culture, and to messages hidden in colours, forms, and the
lives of creative spirits from
every era,” art teacher Miloš
Kmeť from the school in
Novohradská Street in Bratislava told The Slovak Spectator.
Though some programmes
by galleries for schools were
established long ago, they
have gradually developed and,
in some cases, they are designed based on the individual
requirements of schools, galleries addressed by The Slovak
Spectator said.
They agree that these
kinds of activities bring art
closer to the children and
teach them to better understand their meaning.
“Educating about art and
for art enables children to better read the visual language,”
Vladislav Malast, gallery educator from the Slovak National
Gallery (SNG), told The Slovak
Spectator.
Special programmes for
children, adults and seniors
are now considered commonplace for a modern gallery as
this not only brings life to its
spaces but is also a cheap investment for forming visitors
of every age, said artist and
jewellery designer Ivana Por-
Galleries enable children to learn more about art.
uban Santová, 27, from
Trenčianska Teplá.
“In some countries they
have even become part of the
educational process,” Poruban
Santová told The Slovak Spectator.
Tailor-made programmes
“Gallery pedagogy is one of
the bridges which connect the
exhibited work, author and
visitor to the gallery,” Luboš
Hamaj from the Gallery of M.
A. Bazovský in Trenčín told
The Slovak Spectator.
The special programmes
for schools in this Trenčín gallery date back to the 1980s.
Currently, it organises about
220 special events connecting
the exhibitions with creative
activities every year, focusing
not only on schoolchildren,
but also on adults and seniors.
In the SNG, schools can
choose from programmes
based on exhibitions, topics
and age. Sometimes the topics
are connected also with the
school subjects, which is welcomed by teachers, Malast explained. One of the recent exhibitions is called the Liquid
Muse, which has links to
chemistry. They also offer
programmes focusing on
theatre performances and
creative readings.
In the Bratislava City Gallery (GMB), the programmes
try to offer a broader context
through creating actual art
pieces. They are composed of
two parts: the theoretical part
and a creative workshop, explained GMB gallery educator
Photo: Sme
Petra Baslíková.
GMB also organises the
national
education
programme titled “Art from Near”
for pupils aged 10-15 which has
already been attended by more
than 330 schools. It works in a
way that the gallery issues a
catalogue with seven reproductions of works from its collections and teaching materials which it then sends to
schools. The children then
draw the pictures in their own
way and send them back. The
best pictures are exhibited
alongside the originals.
The project’s idea is interesting as well as the methodological approach, said Kmeť,
who together with his students
has attended the programme
twice.
“Children perceived it as
part of their education,” he said,
“the only difference was that
they had a feeling they were
part of something bigger.”
The programmes in the
East Slovak Gallery (VSG),
which started being systematically organised in 2009, are
connected to particular actual
exhibitions. They are very
specific and depend on the
concept of the exhibition or
the art technique the artist
used, explained VSG gallery
educator Viera Dandárová.
The schools choose from
various activities and search
mostly for the programmes
where children can actively
participate, she added.
Also the Nitra Gallery offers a variety of educational
activities, from lectures focused on interpretation of the
oeuvres, short animations,
workshops lasting two hours
and also education programmes.
“All activities are focused
on three aims: the concept of
exhibition and specifics of exhibits, the formal side of art,
and pupils’ own works inspired by the philosophy and
concept of the selected piece
from a contemporary exhibition,” Elena Tarábková of the
gallery explained.
Visitors to the StanicaŽilina Záriečie can also find
special events for schools,
started in 2006, which focus on
“evoking
perception
of
schoolchildren towards art”,
meaning that they show some
work to children and wait for
their response, said Hana
Hudovičová Lukšů, responsible for programmes for children, families and schools.
“We let children reveal and
share their discoveries among
one another,” she told The
Slovak Spectator, adding that
their experience shows that
together, and with help from
lecturers, they can also decode
the more difficult concepts of a
work of art without knowing
about them in advance. They
also offer special language
classes in English at which
they discuss the exhibition,
she added.
Art impacts personality
The galleries’ projects help
pupil to familiarise themselves directly with art, says
Dagmar Kochanová, art class
teacher from the primary
school at Benkova street in Nitra. She sometimes visits exhibitions with students and
has also attended some special
programmes.
Pupils should attend similar activities “so their aesthetic
perception of the world develops more intensively and they
learn more about our culture”,
she told The Slovak Spectator.
To read the whole article,
please go to www.spectator.sk.
EC praises Košice for 2013 culture capital project
THE EUROPEAN Commission has praised Košice for the city’s handling of the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) 2013 project.
The eastern Slovak city shared the title with French Marseille.
“In its evaluation report issued in the beginning of March, the
EC highlighted the highly innovative programme of Košice during
the whole year, especially regarding its scope and content, with experimental art forms and creativity in its broader sense strongly
represented,” Culture Ministry spokesman Jozef Bednár said, as
quoted by the TASR newswire.
Košice’s programme made a contribution to many of the
defined European Union level objectives for the ECOC, especially in
terms of strengthening the capacity of the cultural and creative sectors and their connectivity, as well as access to and participation in
culture by a broad cross-section of residents. This was possible
One of the SPOTs projects in Košice.
Photo: J. Liptáková
thanks in large part to investments in SPOTs, a programme featuring the regeneration of a number of unused heat exchange stations
and cultural events in Košice’s neighbourhoods, other cultural facilities and the number of large-scale public events, the report reads.
The ECOC title also positively impacted tourism.
“The number of nights spent in Košice increased by 10 percent
in 2013 as compared to 2012,” Bednár said, as quoted by TASR.
The EC also praised Košice for its effort to sustain the projects.
“Evidence of lasting improvements in the cultural vibrancy of
cities is perhaps strongest in the case of Košice, thanks to the numbers of continuing projects and the establishment of a new
timetable of recurring events and festivals,” the report states.
Compiled by Spectator staff