|| issue 1, year XIII, 2006
IVAN GASPAROVICH, PRESIDENT OF THE Republic of Slovakia
Interview by Valentin Kostov
H. E. Mihal Kotman, Ambassador of the Republic of Slovakia: “The EU should not be idealized nor used like a scarecrow”
Interview by Tsvetanka Elenkova
“When in our two countries mention is made of the eventual unfavourable sides of EU membership, the price increase or the further widening of the gap between prices and salaries are most often mentioned. It is a fact that the increase of tobacco and alcohol prices, as has happened recently in Bulgaria, was directly connected with Slovakia’s entry into the EU, as they had to be harmonized with the minimal stakes of the excise duty on these goods. The introduction of excise on energy, after the transition period expires, will affect the prices of electricity, natural gas and coal for heating. Price statistics in Slovakia show, however, that in comparison with 2004, when the country became an EU member, the average prices of foodstuffs and soft drinks have decreased, lower also are the prices of household appliances and equipment. The real growth of the average salary, i.e. incomes, cleared of the price influence, is 6.3% for the first nine months of 2005. However, the improving macro-economic indicators have yet to affect the opinion of Slovak citizens. Judging by a recent sociological survey, 43% of those questioned think that their quality of life is being worsened, while only 11% admit it is getting higher.”
The Economy of the Slovak Republic -
Solid Macro-Economic Growth
and Good Perspectives
The average working salary exceeds 16,000 Slovak crowns (Slovenske koruny or SKK), which amounts to more than 420 euros at the present exchange rate of 38 SKK for 1 euro. Last year the real salary growth reached 9%. The budget year of 2005 ended for Slovakia with a deficit of 33.9 billion SKK, which was 27.6 billion SKK less than the deficit envisaged in the state budget law for 2005. The volume of declared foreign investments in Slovakia for the first three quarters of the current year has reached approximately 140 million euros or 5.3 billion SKK. The highest amount of invested sums was registered in the regions of Nitra and Trencin, mainly in the field of electrical engineering, the automobile industry and machine building. These foreign investments should guarantee the Slovak economy between 3,900 and 5,300 new jobs. Among the countries that have showed the biggest interest in investing in Slovakia are Italy, Spain, South Korea, France, Germany and Denmark.
for Grafobal Bulgaria JSC:
“Our philosophy - to be near to
our clients and to serve
them with high quality.”
Interview by Tsvetanka Elenkova
“Grafobal Skalica (main factory of package production division, witch is located in Slovakia, the part of the Grafobal Group) reached in year 2004 total turnover 1.91 mld. SKK (and profit 125 mil. SKK). The turnover of the Grafobal Group was in 2004 up to 15 mld. SKK (see on www.grafobalgroup.sk). Our factory in Svoge produces up tu 25% of bulgarian consumtion of cardboard and lito-laminated packages. We cooperate with main producers of food industry, pharmacy and cosmetics, in our client portfolio you can find up 300 companies, some of them like Nestle, Chipita, Actavis, Mobiltel, Bioprogramma, Salvamed, Vinprom Rousse and others. Our plan - to be better and to expand.”
The Newest Bulgarian Immigration
SLOVAK PERSONALITIES FOR EUROPE
MASTER PAVOL OF LEVOCA,
MATEJ BEL (BELIUS),
MILAN RASTISLAV STEFANIK,
EUGENE ANDREW CERNAN
Pavol Barabas -
The Hidden Magic of the Mountains
He shoots films in extreme colds and heats. He communicates with the locals in wild places, far away from civilization. He looks for situations in which his hero is forced to reach the limit of his possibilities. During the shooting of the film we were accompanied by the camera of the most successful author of mountain and adventurous films in recent years - the director of documentaries Pavol Barabas (born in 1959). This great director is well known in Bulgaria too: at the Fifth International Festival of Mountain Films, held in Bansko between 27 and 30 October 2005, the jury awarded him the Grand Prix for his film “Vertical Amazonia,” which was selected out of 82 films from 20 countries and 5 continents. Barabas was also awarded the prize of the Bulgarian Film Workers’ Union.
Moriz Beniovsky -
The King of Madagascar
The life of the glorious Slovak, immortal adventurer, fantasist, traveller, seafarer and king of Madagascar Moriz Beniovsky was filled with adventures and exciting events from his early youth to his tragic death in the Malagasy jungle, where he perished at the height of his glory at the age of 40 in a battle against the French. Beniovsky was one of the most remarkable figures of the 18th century. He was a friend of the American discoverer and politician Benjamin Franklin and of the British scientist John Magellan. He swam across the Bering Strait seven years earlier than James Cook. Apart from the decoration of myths and legends, Beniovsky’s life was extremely enchanting, an example of courage and bravery. Moriz Beniovsky was a great spirit and a profound intellectual.
St. Gorazd and Slovakia
St. Gorazd and St. Clement were among the most significant and closest disciples of the brother saints Cyril and Methodius. St. Clement is more popular among Bulgarians, while the first saint among Slovaks is Gorazd. These two disciples, along with Cyril and Methodius, whom Pope John Paul II proclaimed patrons of Europe (which makes them patrons of Bulgaria and Slovakia), are most interesting for us. Gorazd was the first disciple of Cyril and Methodius and this has been proved unanimously by all literary monuments found so far. He was born in Great Moravia around the year 830, was a nobleman and belonged to the high society. Gorazd received his Latin education probably before the arrival of the Byzantine mission led by Sts. Cyril and Methodius. He was well aware of Latin culture and traditions and no doubt of the ritual, which could not be said about all the other disciples. Gorazd was probably ordained archbishop in Great Moravia. He was the third Bulgarian archbishop, long before Clement. He was quite active in the field of literature and carried out a lot of translations. He was not only a brilliant church and cultural organizer, but also a universal adviser to Sts. Cyril and Methodius in creating the language of liturgy. No doubt when translating from Greek the two brothers mainly consulted Gorazd. Thus, for instance, the writing of “Methodius’ Life” is ascribed to him.
Lions Club International
Lions Club International (LCI) is the most numerous public benefit world association with more than 1.4 million members in 190 countries. Since its establishment in 1917 it has successfully realized long-term international projects for the prevention and treatment of ophthalmic and auditory diseases and diabetes, addiction prevention among young people, the upbringing of an ethical young generation, the education of leaders, international understanding, cultural exchange and the protection of the environment. In 1945 the founders of the Lions movement Melvin Johns, Fred W. Smith and D. A. Keen took part in the preparation of the constitutive documents of the United Nations. Later the two organizations actively collaborated in the realization of many humanitarian initiatives. The Lions Clubs provide volunteers and financial support for projects by UNICEF, WHO and UNESCO. LCI supported the realization of Bulgarian projects by providing additional financing for the purchase of ophthalmic diagnostic scanners for 7 university hospitals in Bulgaria, for the construction of a sports centre in a school for visually-impaired children in the town of Varna, as well as for rendering urgent assistance to 140 families in flood-affected towns and villages in the regions of Karlovo, Pazardjik, Smolyan, etc.
The Town of Piest’any -
The Most Famous Slovak Resort
1,300 mineral springs are found in a relatively small part of Slovakia’s territory. They are used for treatment, but also provide excellent drinking water. The springs with their extremely curative properties serve as the basis for 23 balneological complexes, where thousands of local and foreign visitors not only improve their health, but also find total healing. One of the oldest and obviously most famous bathing resorts is the town of Piest’any. Quite a number of renowned figures from the public and political life of Europe and the transoceanic countries have cured here their rheumatism and diseases of the locomotorium, owing to the easy access to Piest’any and its relative proximity to Vienna. The Piest’any resort is situated some 80 km. from the Slovak capital, Bratislava, and stretches along the banks of the longest Slovak river, Vah, at 162 m. above sea level. The Vah valley and surrounding mountains provide a favourable climate and within the country itself Piest’any is the town with the biggest number of sunny days in the year (265). The population of the town today numbers nearly 31,000 inhabitants.
Slovak Fortresses and Castles
The national cultural monument of Spis Fortress, one of the most valuable monuments in the region, dominates the Spis valley, at a height of 634 m. above sea level, perched on a sandstone rock, towering 200 m. above its surroundings. It not only documents the development of architecture in Slovakia in the period between the 12th and 18th centuries, but with its area of more than 4 hectares is considered one of the largest stronghold complexes in central Europe.
Trencin Fortress, which dates back to the 11th century, rises above the surrounding landscape and the remains of the life of people in central Slovakia. It is situated in the northern part of the town of Trencin. It was the seat of the renowned ruler and prince Matus Cak. A Roman inscription from the year 179 about the victory of a Roman legion at Laugaritsium is preserved intact on the fortress rock. The fortress has been proclaimed a national cultural monument, with some of its reconstructed parts accessible to visitors.
Bratislava Fortress rises on a vertical rock above the Danube and above Bratislava itself, Slovakia’s capital. It dates back to the 3rd-5th centuries and from the 11th century was an important border fortification of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Currently the fortress and the castle in it serve for representative purposes of the Slovak Republic’s Parliament as well as for a museum and venue for many cultural events.
Slovakia is a country with many castles, which testify to this very day about its past. But the history of one of them is particularly interesting to us, as it connects Slovakia and Bulgaria in a rather unique way: the last inhabitant of Antol Castle was the Bulgarian King Ferdinand. The castle is situated in the large settlement of Antol near the town of Banska Stiavnica. Built in a baroque and classical style in 1744 for Count Andrej Jozef Kohary on the site of a 15th-century Gothic fortress, the castle became the residence of this representative of the new Hungarian aristocracy, which had grown rich during the wars against the Turkish invasion in the Hungarian Empire.
Bojnice Castle opens the way to the Rajecka valley. During the 12th century it served as a royal and protecting fortress at the passage from the Nitra valley to Turiec. Today it houses an ethnographic museum, possessing one of the richest collections. Not only is the town of Bojnice well known for its numerous cultural and musical events, but the castle itself is often the focus of attention of many directors for the shooting of films and serials. Diseases of the locomotorium are cured in the world-renowned mineral spas in Bojnice.
Wooden Structures and Churches
in Eastern Slovakia
A unified type of small wooden Eastern-style churches has been formed in north-eastern Slovakia as well as in the Bojkovska district of Transcarpathian Ukraine and in the Lemkovska district of Poland, as a result of the specific historical, political, socio-economic, cultural-public and natural-climatic conditions of life. These monuments are a perfect symbiosis of Christianity and folklore, an amazing manifestation of the material expression of the human spirit. They have preserved in themselves the most ancient traits of human sacral architecture.
The Secret of Clay Alchemism
The Habans were representatives of a radical church sect from the region of southern Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. They lived in a closed community with a strict regimen and obligations for each of its members. They recognized neither church nor secular domination; property was collective. The Habans proclaimed uncompromising pacifism and rejected military service. They came to western Slovakia in 1524, after being persecuted by the Hapsburg dynasty. Their existence was possible thanks to the non-Catholic nobles, mainly due to economic reasons. The members of this sect were chiefly dexterous and extremely hard-working artisans, who mastered crafts hitherto unknown in Slovak lands. By the end of the 16th century the Habans had settled in 12 Slovak settlements. They brought to Slovakia perfect production experience in the field of ceramics, pottery, majolica, smithery, cutlery, hide-processing, the production of broadcloth and many other crafts - nearly 40 altogether. The Habans’ technical abilities were gradually mastered by the local population, which led to the merging of skills and the creation of new, enriched goods. Through the union of Habans and Slovaks a marvellous synthesis of two artistic messages was born - Haban ceramics and Slovak pottery.
Albin Brunovsky - Poetry in Images
Albin Brunovsky, a graphic artist, illustrator and painter born in 1935 in Zochor, near Bratislava, is one of the most remarkable creators, lecturers and personalities to have worked in Slovakia during the 20th century. He graduated from the Artistic Academy in Bratislava as a student of the great Professor Vincent Hloznik. Brunovsky himself taught at the same academy from 1963 to his death in 1997. As a graphic artist and illustrator, he developed the imaginistic trends in fine arts. Brunovsky’s graphics and illustrations during the 60s and part of the 70s bore the influence of Kandinsky, Klee, Miro and Chagall. Brunovsky’s drawing is so exquisite that it easily rivals the old Masters.
Christian Symbols in Slovak History
A Tale of Six Beeches and Todorka
Abbot of Klissura Monastery:
“Cleansing Is People’s Way to God”
Interview by Tsvetanka Elenkova
“Nech Sa Paci” (“Here You Are”)
or Three Steps Towards
the Colour of Slovakia’s Taste
Translated by Galia B. Cholakova
Revised by Jonathan Dunne
| Translated by Galina B. Cholakova
Revised by Jonathan Dunne