AuthorMartin Hladík

Jaroslav Kubera, new President of the Senate meets ambassadors

Jaroslav Kubera, newly elected President of the Senate began his new tenure with meetings with foreign ambassadors. Besides long-term important partners such as Slovakia, Germany, Poland, France and Italy, some of the others he received included the plenipotentiaries for Russia, China, Chile, India and Peru.

Petra Plemlová

 

“We have all been fighting for a spot at the top since we started”

 

Petra Plemlová, Owner and founder of unuodesign s.r.o.

The story of a young, successful businesswoman in the field of e-commerce with children’s clothing. Petra is a four-time mother whose story is full of many genres. Even though many people would like to see a fairy tale with a happy ending, some moments were more like a dark Scandinavian thriller. Despite a not-too-happy childhood and constant underestimation on the part of her two older and more successful siblings, Petra graduated as a kindergarten teacher. Working with children fulfilled her purpose, and it was here that she became aware of how much time and energy she spent on dressing and undressing children, as she continuously encountered uncomfortable and impractical children’s clothing. From a young age, she spent a lot of time with her neighbor, a well-trained dressmaker from the period of the First Republic. It was only a matter of time before this hobby became Petra’s main occupation.

She gradually began to make her first products, initially only for friends and for her own children. Clothing easy enough that children can dress themselves. When the front and back of the clothes are the same, it doesn’t matter if they mix up the sides. Clothing without zippers and buttons. Clothing that grows with the children, so there is no need to order a new size every three months. She had to begin running her business full time after her husband nearly destroyed their entire apartment when he fell ill with a mental disorder. Her stock of already prepared sewing materials was also destroyed.

Petra remained alone with her four small children and was under constant scrutiny from the unhelpful social workers, who were more anti-social than social. Over a three-year period, she built a company that now attains a turnover of 50 million Czech crowns, employs more than 50 people and, within the scope of the Unuo endowment fund, provides help to women who have found themselves in a situation similar to her own. However, this conversation is not about the past, but rather the future. How does a successful businesswoman perceive the region of South Bohemia in which she conducts her business? What does the future hold for her industry, with regard to materials and e-commerce? And is this extremely active woman even able to relax?

Petra, the Australian Open has just recently ended. While many people were happy to see clothing made from recycled materials and produced by Adidas, you instead lamented on social media that unuodesign has already been using recycled “soft shell” material for a long time. It is more expensive, but for a good reason. Furthermore, your “growing” clothing has a usable lifespan of more than three months. How do you cope with the fact that large companies receive much more attention than smaller companies, despite the smaller companies being much more progressive?

I think that every company gets as much attention as it deserves. We have all been fighting for a spot at the top since we started. Especially if we started in a large industry, such as the one represented by the textile industry. We can deserve the attention if we get through great work performance, by making something original or by doing things differently. At unuo, we decided to use all three of these approaches that I just mentioned. I am glad that we are doing very well in the field of PR connected with organic or recycled materials.

You started doing business in Tábor and you’re doing well. In today’s economic environment, where the labor supply is limited, you are succeeding in taking on new workers, especially female workers. What’s your opinion on the specifics of doing business in the region of South Bohemia?

I can’t speak about the entire region, but personally I am excited about the city as well as the people who live in Tábor. Everything is different in Prague. The employees in this small city are not used to changing their profession or the company they work for, especially several times a year. Luckily, we avoid this fluctuation and any frequent position changes. I feel that the inhabitants of smaller cities care more about their good name. They are aware that if they end up getting a bad name at a few companies, the word will very soon spread. The people here are more “loyal” to their field. You could say that their lives are more motivated by relationships than by money.

We personally met at a panel discussion organized by the Elegantní Česko company, because both of us are proud of the traditions of the First Czechoslovak Republic. Custom sewing is one of those traditions on which one can establish oneself. You yourself were, however, sceptical about the future of the textile industry in Europe.

Our statistics confirm the reality that our customers feel positively toward production in the Czech Republic. It is even part of the positive decision-making criteria when choosing to buy Czech or foreign. Unfortunately, it is ranked third, right after the criteria of price and quality. From my experience, I’m speaking especially about the textile industry of manufactured clothing. If Czech customers buy clothing for their children at stores with prices lower than five euros, it is only a matter of time before the textile industry in the Czech Republic disappears altogether. It is interesting to note that many goods from third-world countries are subject to special duties so that imports of these products into the Czech Republic do not endanger certain industries. And then there is, for instance, agriculture which is subsidized by the state. No one is offering a helping hand to the textile industry, and that raises the question of how long the textile industry will last. Not just with regard to clothing production, but also textile production, the schools that supplied new dressmakers or weavers to companies have disappeared in the Czech Republic. Schools intentionally do not open these fields, because there is no interest on the part of the students. Students are not interested because the bright future of a seamstress who works a three-shift schedule and barely makes the minimum wage is not something anyone would want to have. And now we arrive back to the customer. The employer cannot pay his employees more if mothers buy clothes in stores at prices that are less than what we as suppliers have to pay for the material.

E-commerce business deals with new technologies. Other than clothing and materials, you offer a digital solution for the automation of warehouse processes that help other e-shops. This approach has won twice in the Czech Entrepreneurship Awards contest. Which direction would you like to go in the future? What is your dream?

Although my previous forecast may have been pessimistic, I hope that even ten years from now, unuo.cz and unuodesign.cz will be able to produce beautiful fabrics and children’s clothing. As for our application, PICKI, I hope that it will become a great helper, not only for our company, but for others as well. But naturally, I still see this application as an infant that will need a lot of care before it is self- sufficient and financially independent.

I won’t ask how you handle and multitask all your different roles. I know that this question, which is often asked of working mothers, will not seem quite fair to you. Instead, I will ask you about your great dedication to your work. Do you even know how to relax? How do you recharge your battery?

I am lucky because my job is my dream come true. Thanks to this, I no longer feel the need to relax that much.Whatyoulovehasthetendencytorecharge you a lot more than it exhausts you. I often relax at my sewing machine, which is actually my “job”. I love technology and read a lot about it, so I’m actually discovering what the new developer will introduce to us and when. Actually, that is also my “job”. I play a lot with the kids and go outside with them, which is a small part of my “job” as well. Only by observing my own children and other children can I see what our little clients and their mothers need.

We are doing this interview in January 2019. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? And what would you like to wish the readers of Czech and Slovak Leaders?

I have one big goal in 2019, and that is to spend more time with my children. Not to be at home more, I’m there very often, but to be present with my children, enjoy their beautiful smiles and their love, which is so pure that it cannot be compared with anything else. My online children were born so I can support my real children. Now, when they´re successfully carrying out their mission, beautifully and on their own, I can focus my attention on the place where it is most needed. I extend this wish to the readers as well, and not only for 2019!

By Linda Štucbartová

13 Super Charming European Cities Well Worth a Day Trip

If you’re visiting a major European destination, take a day or two to visit one of these under-the-radar and easy-to-get-to smaller cities.

You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the little streets of Paris, the palaces of Vienna, or the twisting canals of Venice. After all, there’s a reason these iconic cities are as timeless and as popular as they are.

But Europe is more than just these well-known destinations. These cities may be the ones on the postcards, or the ones you’ll see plastered over everyone’s Facebook vacation photo albums, but some of Europe’s most beautiful and exciting cities are often also some of the continent’s smallest or most unassuming. If you’ve done the big ones before—or even if you just have a few days to spare while visiting a major hub—then enough can’t be said for the experience of hopping onto a train, bus, or ferry and taking a short trip to somewhere really new.

For example, while visiting London, why not take a day or two to visit the medieval city of Bruges? Just a few hours away by Eurostar, Bruges is a quiet, lovely city of canals and cobblestone streets (not to mention the city’s famous belfry). Similarly, Poland’s Szczecin is a beloved waterfront city that’s just a quick, two-hour train trip from Berlin. Bratislava, the charming capital of Slovakia, isn’t as popular a destination as Vienna, but it’s an easy day trip from the famous Austrian metropolis (only an hour away by train) and is a perfect home base for wine-tasting expeditions in the surrounding countryside.

All of the European detours listed here are easy, convenient trips: just a few hours away from a major city via affordable mass transit. (No private drivers or even car rentals necessary.) But, perhaps more importantly, all of the cities included—few of which get the attention they deserve—offer intrepid travelers the chance to have a unique, under-the-radar European experience.

Munich to Salzburg, Austria

Perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of Mozart (as well as the setting for The Sound of Music), Salzburg lies just on the border with Germany. A fully preserved embodiment of Baroque architecture, few modern buildings have been allowed a place in the inner city, meaning it today looks almost the same as it did four hundred years ago. In more ways than one, Salzburg is as Austrian as Austria gets.

The Route: The Munich to Salzburg route is a quick cross-border train journey: prices range from $20 each way and it’ll take you an hour and a half to get there. If you opt for the bus (go for Flixbus) it’ll cost $8 each way with a journey time of two hours.

Where to Stay: If you’re in Salzburg, you want historical luxury, and if you want historical luxury, you want Hotel Schloss. The hotel (which served as the filming location for the von Trapp family residence in The Sound of Music) is set inside a stunning 18th-century palace with a beautiful interior and remarkable surroundings.

Where to Eat: It’s no palace, sure, but S’Kloane Brauhaus serves classic, rustic Austrian cuisine (wiener schnitzel, venison stew) and home-brewed beer in a warm, traditionally decorated environment.

What to Do: Take a Sound of Music tour, or visit the birthplace of Mozart, which is now a museum. Or just head down to the Alter Market and dedicate your day to eating as much Austrian street food as you can.

Berlin to Szczecin, Poland

As the country’s seventh-largest city, Szczecin often finds itself in the shadow of some of Poland’s more popular destinations, such as Warsaw or Kraków. Nonetheless, this port city (located just on the Poland-Germany border) is as well loved by German tourists as it is by locals, chiefly for its gorgeous riverfront and locally made beer and vodka.

The Route: Luckily, Szczecin is as easy to get to as it is hard to spell. You can catch a train from Berlin’s Gessundbrunnen rail station straight into central Szczecin for about $75 round-trip, and you’ll arrive in well under two hours.

Where to Stay: The Park Hotel is a little slice of luxury situated right in the middle of Szczecin’s Old Town, only a short distance away from pretty much everything in the city worth seeing (including that aforementioned riverfront).

Where to Eat: You won’t have to go far for this one—the Park Hotel’s restaurant is one of the highest-rated in the city, and offers up a range of Polish and international dishes.

What to Do: The Szczecin Philharmonic hosts a number of events through the year, and the striking building itself is a wonderful example of Poland’s architectural eccentricity.

See the rest here.

Annual Christmas Charity Concert of Hilton Hotels in Prague

Hilton Prague and Hilton Prague Old Town organized the 22nd annual traditional Christmas Charity Concert featuring the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra and soloist Ester Pavlů, conducted by Debashish Chaudhuri. For the first time in its history, the concert was organized in the magnificent Atrium lobby. The evening was presented by Michael Specking, General Manager of Hilton Prague together with Gabriela Lašková, TV news presenter. The Christmas spirit was brought by International Ladies’ choir Viva Voce. Hilton Prague Executive Chef Franco Luise surprised the audience not only with a delicious Christmas dinner after the concert, but also with a special cheque in form of a cake brought on stage by a sleigh with Santa Claus. Michael Specking generously wrote the amount of 60.000 CZK on the cake cheque and presented it to Ms. Terezie Sverdlinová in support of the Tereza Maxova Foundation. Thanks to the main partners who helped make this meaningful event happen again – AV Media, Gesto Computers and Leel Coils.

More Celebrities and CEOs Are Born in January Than Any Other Month

January belongs to famous people.

Elvis Presley, Kate Moss, Stephen Hawking, Martin Luther King, Jr., Oprah. The list of icons born in January is seemingly endless.

According to a study from the Journal of Social Sciences, those born under the sign of Aquarius — which lasts from Jan. 21 through Feb. 20 — are the most likely to skyrocket to the tips of everyone’s lips and become famous.

Those born in the first month of the year are also more likely to become CEOs. One study found that 10 percent of CEOs were born in the month of January. (However the highest honors went to March with 12.5 percent of CEOs.)

According to one UK study, those born in January also have the highest chances of becoming doctors.

This lineup is likely due to school and societal structures. Those born in the earlier part of the year have a couple of months’ lead on other children by the time they start kindergarten or enter organized sports.

“If you were born in January, you have almost 12 months’ growth ahead of your classmates born late in the year,” Adrian Barnett, a researcher from Queensland University told Science Daily.

If you’re trying to have a kid, your chances of conceiving a famous child are quickly approaching. You should probably plan for April.

If you were born in January and have a hard time getting friends to come out for your birthday: don’t despair. You’ll probably end up more famous than them anyway.

Geopolitics of Europe and the Iron Law of Evolutionary Biology

(Europe after the Brexit, NATO 70 summit and Turkish geopolitical vertigo)

Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic at the OSCE Conference

A freshly released IMF’s World Economic Outlook brings no comforting picture to anyone within the G-7, especially in the US and EU: The WTO Round is dead, trade wars are alive, GCC is rapidly Pakistanising while the Asia’s core and its Far East slows down. No comfort either comes from the newest Oxfam Report – Are 26 billionaires worth more than half the planet?, which the ongoing Davos Vanity Fair known as the WEF tries to ignore (as much as this gathering of capital sustains in ignoring labor). The Brexit after-shock is still to reverberate around.

In one other EXIT, Sartre’s Garcin famously says: ‘Hell is other people’. Indeed, business of othering remains lucrative: The NATO 70 summit will desperately look for enemies. Escalation is the best way to preserve eroded unity, requires the confrontational nostalgia dictatum. Will the passionately US-pushed cross-Atlantic Free Trade Area (substituting the abandoned TIPP and compensating for the Sino-US trade war) save the day? Or, would that Pact-push drag the things over the edge of reinvigorating nationalisms, and mark an end of the unionistic Europe?

Is the extended EU conflict with Russia actually a beginning of the Atlantic-Central Europe’s conflict over Russia, an internalization of mega geopolitical and geo-economic dilemma – who accommodates with whom, in and out of the post-Brexit Union? Finally, does more Ukrainian (Eastern Europe’s or MENA) calamities pave the road for a new cross-continental grand accommodation, of either austerity-tired France or über-performing Germany with Russia, therefore the end of the EU? Southeast flank already enormously suffer. Hasty castling of foes and friends caused colossal geopolitical vertigo in Turkey, whose accelerated spin produces more and more victims.

For whose sake Eastern Europe has been barred of all important debates such as that of Slavism, identity, social cohesion (disintegrated by the plunder called ‘privatization’), secularism and antifascism? Why do we suddenly wonder that all around Germany-led Central Europe, the neo-Nazism gains ground while only Russia insists on antifascism and (pan-)Slavism?

Before answering that, let us examine what is (the meaning and size of) our Europe? Where, how and – very importantly – when is our Europe?

The letzte Mensch or Übermensch

Is the EU an authentic post-Westphalian conglomerate and the only logical post-Metternich concert of different Europes, the world’s last cosmopolitan enjoying its postmodern holiday from history? Is that possibly the lost Atlántida or mythical Arcadia– a Hegelian end of history world? Thus, should this OZ be a mix of the endemically domesticated Marx-Engels grand utopia and Kennedy’s dream-world “where the weak are safe and the strong are just”?

Or, is it maybe as Charles Kupchan calls it a ‘postmodern imperium’? Something that exhorts its well-off status quo by notoriously exporting its transformative powers of free trade dogma and human rights stigma–a modified continuation of colonial legacy when the European conquerors, with fire and sword, spread commerce, Christianity and civilization overseas – a kind of ‘new Byzantium’, or is that more of a Richard Young’s declining, unreformed and rigid Rome? Hence, is this a post-Hobbesian (yet, not quite a Kantian) world, in which the letzte Mensch expelled Übermensch?

Could it be as one old graffiti in Prague implies: EU=SU²? Does the EU-ization of Europe equals to a restoration of the universalistic world of Rome’s Papacy, to a restaging of the Roman-Catholic Caliphate? Is this Union a Leonard’s runner of the 21st century, or is it perhaps Kagan’s ‘Venus’– gloomy and opaque world, warmer but equally distant and unforeseen like ‘Mars’?

Is this a supersized Switzerland (ruled by the cacophony of many languages and enveloped in economic egotism of its self-centered people), with the cantons (MS, Council of EU) still far more powerful than the central government (the EU Parliament, Brussels’ Commission, ECJ), while Swiss themselves –although in the geographic heart of that Union – stubbornly continue to defy any membership. Does it really matter (and if so, to what extent) that Niall Ferguson wonders: “…the EU lacks a common language, a common postal system, a common soccer team (Britain as well, rem. A.B.) even a standard electric socket…“?

Kissinger himself was allegedly looking for a phone number of Europe, too. Baron Ridley portrayed the Union as a Fourth Reich, not only dominated by Germany, but also institutionally Germanized. Another conservative Briton, Larry Siedentop, remarked in his Democracy in Europe that it is actually France who is running the EU ‘show’, in the typical French way – less than accountable bureaucracy that prevents any evolution of the European into an American-style United States. Thus, Siedentop’s EU is more of a Third Bonapartistic Empire than possibly a Fourth German Reich. The Heartland or Rimland?

D/evolutionary Biology and geopolitics

Regardless of different names and categorizations attached, historical analogies and descriptions used, most scholars would agree upon the very geopolitical definition of the EU: Grand re-approachment of France and Germany after WWII, culminating in the Elysée accords of 1961. An interpretation of this instrument is rather simple: a bilateral peace treaty through achieved consensus by which Germany accepted a predominant French say in political affairs of EU/Europe, and France – in return – accepted a more dominant German say in economic matters of EU/Europe. All that tacitly blessed by a perfect balancer– Britain, attempting to conveniently return to its splendid isolation from the Continent in the post-WWII years. Hence, living its Brexit distance from the continental Europe for most of its history.

Consequently, nearly all scholars would agree that the Franco-German alliance actually represents a geopolitical axis, a backbone of the Union.

However, the inner unionistic equilibrium will be maintained only if the Atlantic-Central Europe skillfully calibrates and balances its own equidistance from both assertive Russia and the omnipresent US. Any alternative to the current Union is a grand accommodation of either France or Germany with Russia. This means a return to Europe of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries – namely, direct confrontations over the Continent’s core sectors, perpetual animosities wars and destructions.

Both Russia and the US has demonstrated ability for a skillful and persistent conduct of international affairs, passions and vigorous visions to fight for their agendas. Despite the shifts in political affiliations and drives triggered by the Brexit, migrants, economic performance or generational in/compassions, it is a high time for Brussels to live up to its very idea, and to show the same.

Biology and geopolitics share one basic rule: comply or die.

 

Anis H. Bajrektarevic
Vienna, 24 JAN 2019
anis@corpsdiplomatique.cd

Author is professor in international law and global political studies, based in Austria. His 7th book From WWI to www. 1918-2018 is just published by the New York’s Addleton Academic Publishers.

5 Tips for Traveling Solo After Retirement

As a chronological leader in the cohort of Baby Boomers who are now retiredor thinking seriously about it, I’m happy to say that I have the resources and appetite for travel. Time is no longer a constraint, but there are others, of course. While I still have the energy to schlep through airports, carry my own luggage, and spend 12 hours strapped into an airplane seat, I have lost all desire to backpack through Europe or hitchhike across the United States. However, I still have lots of exploring to do.

Others of my generation, and even younger folks, satisfy their urge to see the world by signing up with group travel companies that plan their itineraries, book their flights, reserve their hotel rooms, and arrange their meals and sightseeing tours. You’ve seen them – gathering on crowded corners near tourist sites, lining up for their buses, straining to see their guide’s flag over 50 other heads, filling entire sections of restaurants to the horror of their servers.

That’s not for me. I enjoy searching the internet for flights and destination details, browsing hotel and restaurant reviews, and reading up on what to see in the places I’m planning to visit. That’s part of the fun and reward of travel. And there’s so much useful information available that it makes the preparation nearly as enjoyable as the trip itself.

Although I’ve met many lovely people along the way, I have no desire to spend all day every day with the same ones. Dining at restaurants that have been selected because they’re large enough to accommodate the group and low-priced enough to fit the budget has no appeal for me. Eating great food when and where I choose is always a highlight of my travels.

I understand that many of my fellow Boomers and travelers of all ages appreciate the security of having someone make the arrangements and care for them along the way. Group travel provides comfort for solo travelers and those who aren’t confident about planning all the details on their own. It eliminates worries about finding transportation, getting lost, missing an important site, or not speaking the language. I get it. Here are some tips based on what I learned about managing those challenges on my recent solo trip to Italy.

Do your research.

After deciding on my destination, I make the basic arrangements for flights and hotels, also considering what I want to see and where I want to dine. (I told you the eating part was important!) Then, if I have any concerns about getting around or being able to visit the popular tourist destinations, I look for day tours with reliable companies, especially those offering front-of-the-line access or other methods for avoiding the crowds.

Choose the right day tour for you.

In Rome, I naturally wanted to see the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums. So do thousands of others every day, especially during the peak travel months. I signed up with City Wonders for their morning tour when I learned that the company’s official Vatican Museums partnership enables their groups to use a special no-wait entrance. (Even skip-the-line groups often wait up to an hour.)

Our small group entered the museums 30 minutes before other tours, and our English-speaking guide shared fascinating anecdotes and historical details before leaving us to enjoy the magnificent art on our own. She relayed that as a sculptor Michelangelo was reluctant to take on the project of painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, but “when the Pope asks, you do it.”

She also described Michelangelo’s challenges of painting while standing on a platform (not lying on his back as many believe) and applying the color to porous plaster. With our guide’s words in mind, the extraordinary work of art was even more breathtaking to see.

See the rest here.

May 2019 elections in Bulgaria: A litmus test for the country’s political future

The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. Macedonian historian, journalist and publicist Dejan Azeski has analysed recent events in Bulgaria in view of the local and European Parliament elections scheduled for 26 May 2019. His analysis entitled “May 2019 elections in Bulgaria: A litmus test for the country’s political future” is published here in full.

Although there are two more years till regular parliamentary elections in Bulgaria, many believe that their result will (mainly) depend on the forthcoming local election scheduled for 26 May 2019, which will take place along with the European Parliament elections. In about three months Bulgaria ¬– an important EU and NATO member – will not only get its new political structures but also set its geopolitical orientation. Therefore the forthcoming elections in Bulgaria will represent the litmus test for the country’s political future.

Regardless of whether the ruling conservative party GERB led by the incumbent Prime Minister Boyko Borissov remains in power or is succeeded by the left-wing opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the country will remain a pro-Western oriented NATO member. The elections will decide only the degree of its pro-Western orientation: whether it will be ultrapro-Western like Poland, moderately pro-Western like Slovenia or rather neutral like Slovakia? Anyhow, none of the possible scenarios will take Bulgaria on the Hungarian path – the scenario which Europe fears the most.

GERB is losing power, but is still the strongest party

In the past few months Bulgarian ruling party GERB has undergone serious problems and scandals that have undermined its political rating. Fake Bulgarian (European) passports for Turkish and Macedonian citizens, corruption scandals, clashes among the ruling coalition and sharp criticism from Bulgarian President Rumen Radev represent only some of the problems faced by GERB.

The existing situation in the political scene may have serious implications for European Parliament election where the citizens (mostly) vote for the political party and not for individuals.

First surveys and forecasts have shown that GERB has only a slight advantage, which makes the forthcoming elections one of the most uncertain in Bulgaria.

However, Borissov’s GERB still has some strong trumps. If it loses the European Parliament election (which is highly unlikely), the incumbent Prime Minister has sound grounds to hope for a convincing victory at the local election which will be held at the same time.

Also in the past GERB and its leader Borissov built their power by gaining popularity in small cities and towns and devoted less attention to European Parliament elections.

Having performed hundreds of “small” projects for their citizens, Mayors of Varna, Burgas, Blagoevgrad, Stara Zagora, Plovdiv and even Sofia have practically secured themselves victories at next elections.

According to analysts’ estimates it would take a miracle for Borissov and GERB to be defeated in any of those Bulgarian key cities.

Moreover, GERB is known to enter the election race in Bulgarian rural areas with a head start.

That is why GERB and Borissov are expected to regain strong position in May 2019 elections, which will be an excellent starting point for the new victory at 2021 Parliamentary elections.

Bulgarian left-wing still anti-NATO sentiment

Korneliya Ninova leads Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) which is the largest opposition party in the country.

Ever since she gained the leadership on 8 May 2016 she has been m good political actions which have strengthened her rating at Borissov’s detriment. Increasing corruption among the ruling party and several scandals have only contributed to her rise.

Her greatest success so far has been the victory at November 2016 presidential election when Rumen Radev, who ran as an independent candidate with BSP’s support, defeated GERB’s candidate.

If Ninova continues with her current political rhetorics and dynamics in the next two years, she will gain sufficient political strength to become a serious candidate for winning the 2021 parliamentary elections.

However, there is a seemingly small problem, which may turn into a big obstacle. Namely, General Leonid Reshetnikov, the former high-ranked official and intelligence agent of Soviet secret service, has been regarded as the grey eminence of Bulgarian public scene for more than 30 years. It is believed that he controls several important media in the country and that his tentacles reach every pore of social life.

More and more often Korneliya Ninova is brought in connection with General Reshetnikov as his political ally, which may represent a recipe for defeat at the forthcoming elections. When the majority of Bulgarian media intensify the campaign in which Ninova is represented as a threat to the country’s pro-Western orientation, she will definitely lose the affection of domestic voters and the European states.

Ninova has already given grounds for that: she supported the defeated military pilot of the Warsaw Pact (who flew MIG-21 and MIG-29), showing a very restrained position towards NATO.

It should also be noted that President Rumen Radev blocked the procurement of American F-16 fighter jets for Bulgarian aviation. He has only recently authorised their procurement after having tried every other possible variant of F-16, such as the Swedish Gripen, the French Mirage and even the modernised Russian MIG-29. Moreover, under Radev’s command, Bulgarian soldiers participating in the official NATO exercise last year refused to shoot at targets marked with the Russian flag. Korneliya Ninova expressed no position on either of the two incidents, while her closest advisors and colleagues publicly or secretly supported President Radev and Bulgarian soldiers.

Another problem is the very influential chief of the President’s office Ivo Hristov. He has been marked as pro-French and anti-British, which is regarded in Bulgaria as pro-Russian orientation. His mere presence in the presidential palace in Sofia causes uneasiness, even though Hristov has not made any significant statements on this issue so far.

Nevertheless, all this may be mere speculation, coincidence or a cheap PR stunt by the ruling GERB against the opposition party.

The fact is that both Radev and Ninova always publicly declare their loyalty to the EU and NATO. Thus, no major changes are to be expected even if BSP takes over the government – Bulgaria will remain a loyal NATO and EU member.

Bulgaria will not become the new Hungary (which is a thorn in the West’s side) or the new Slovakia which has been increasingly promoting neutrality. However, it may become the new Slovenia which has principled positions towards every country, which is in fact not a bad position at all.

The key question: What will happen with Borissov’s political career?

Finally, we have come to the topmost political figure in Bulgaria for the past 15 years who is regarded by many as the knight saviour of Bulgaria – the incumbent Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.

Most of all he will be remembered by his feats from the period before he was Prime Minister: as the Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior he literally saved Bulgaria from the jaws of mafia. With his unconventional methods he dealt with organised crime which represented Bulgaria’s greatest evil. It should be noted that Borissov is the first Bulgarian politician since 1990 to win the fight against corruption, which enabled him to be elected as Mayor of Sofia and later as Prime Minister of Bulgaria.

Borissov was not only a “good cop”. He has also proven to be an excellent party leader and an excellent prime minister both in terms of internal and foreign affairs. Both the US and the EU, or more precisely their leaders do not hide the fact that they regard him as their best partner in the whole Balkans. A lot of credit for these achievements go to Borissov’s unofficial advisor, Bulgarian heir to the throne and former Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who is believed by many to pull the strings in Bulgarian foreign politics, but since he pulls them towards the West this keeps satisfied both Brussels and Washington.

However, Borissov is not faultless – his circles have blemished his reputation. Long years in power have brought ever bigger deals and commissions. Certain individuals have become billionaires not only in Bulgaria but also at the regional level. Thus Borissov is considered to be involved in the deal concluded with the Czech energy company which took over the district heating system in Sofia. This turned into a classical Bulgarian story when his opponents and the media from Sofia claimed (without proof) that through that company Borissov was connected with Russian President Vladimir Putin and was blackmailed into doing certain favours for Kremlin.

Thus it is claimed that Borissov intentionally supported Tsetska Tsacheva as presidential candidate although she had the lowest rating and was regarded as the only possible competitor whom Rumen Radev would have been able to defeat.

Whether this is true or not is of no interest to anyone in Sofia and in Brussels. What is important is that the story has been launched and that Borissov is now burdened with suspicion in terms of corruption and his political actions, which has undermined his rating. As a result the Bulgarian public is no longer talking about Borissov as the election winner but about his political future.

The analysts who are familiar with Bulgarian political scene have envisaged three possible scenarios:

1. Borissov wins the May 2019 election and during the period until 2021 parliamentary election he ensures a peaceful transfer of power within his party (as Angela Merkel did in Germany), of course in collusion with the US and the EU. According to this scenario Borissov would be succeeded by the incumbent Minister of Finance Vladislav Goranov. Being a former student from London he will surely continue Bulgaria’s pro-Western orientation. This scenario also leaves the possibility for early parliamentary election in the second half of this year.

2. Borissov and GERB lose both local and European Parliament elections. In this case Borissov will clearly resign, but it is not sure whether Vladimir Goranov will be the only successor. Other potential candidates are Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zakharieva, the incumbent Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev and former Minister of the Interior Rumyana Bachvarova who is also regarded as a highly influential person. An important role in this scenario will be played by Tsvetan Tsvetanov, who is one of the key officials and a highly trusted member of GERB. Whichever of the above candidates Tsvetanov chooses, they are all pro-Western and pro-British oriented.

3. Borissov refuses to give up the leadership of his party and of the state. Although not very probable, this scenario would be possible if the west (due to internal conflicts which have been aggravating since Donald Trump‘s election) supported different candidates for Borissov’s successor and failed to reach a common position on that issue. This scenario would be followed by a long and painstaking transition process, which – for Bulgaria’s sake – it would be better to avoid.

By Dejan Azeski

Lions Club Prague Bohemia Ambassador Charity event

In cooperation with Czech & Slovak Leaders

10 Must-Visit Wellness Destinations in 2019

Continuing the trend of health and fitness we’ve seen take over the world in 2018, this year should be even more imbued with wonderful visits to some of the finest wellness-focused destinations out there. After all, there will be even more spa centers, secluded wellness resorts, and glamping paired with natural treatments in various corners of the globe, just waiting for you to rediscover your inner Zen and soak yourself in the latest health-infused trends.

Now, the following destinations seem to have the greatest health potential for 2019, so make sure to add some of them to your list, and start booking those tickets as soon as possible for another year of wellness!

1. Find your hideout in Switzerland

The sheer view of the Alps alone is enough to heal your hustle-burdened soul. However, Swiss ingenuity doesn’t end at the striking views alone, on the contrary. With world-class hotels and resorts merely hours away from the main urban hotspots, you can take your pick among many wellness retreats this mountainous country has to offer.

Swim in the outdoor pool while the snow softly lands on your cheeks in the Alpina Gstaad, for example, and you’ll finally understand the unity of your mind, body, and soul, and your connection to Mother Nature.

2. Say hello to Bali

It’s no wonder so many yogis return to this slice of paradise year after year. In 2019, Bali remains the Indonesian epicenter of all things yogis love, and many a soothing retreat is to be organized on its very shores. You’ll find any and every yoga studio and spa to be as wonderful as the next one, so brace yourself for a peaceful escape in this tropical Eden on Earth.

3. Meet the Mediterranean in Italy

Who knew that the feisty Italian folk could reinvent the notion of relaxation and take it to a whole new level of pleasure? Well, it seems that the Mediterranean mood has a mind of its own, and their world-renowned Tuscany resorts such as Belmond Castello di Casole are sure to dazzle you into pure serenity.

4. Get lost in Hong Kong

This may be another surprise on the list, but the spirit of tranquil Asia prevails over the urban tempo that this region is known for. In fact, you’ll find that every professional spa salon in Hong Kong boasts the same impeccable level of peace and quiet you’d expect from a secluded spot in the mountains. It only takes a bit of digging to discover the ones that bring the best, most relaxing rituals of Asia to the nestled nooks of Hong Kong, and you’ll be all set.

5. Visit an Australian retreat

This list would be incomplete without a hop over to the Land Down Under, where they invented the idea of laid-back and relaxed. So, it makes sense to find some of the best hidden resorts precisely in Australia! Book a healthy detox holiday or an active escape in Byron Bay, and you will not be disappointed. Expect a wide array of water-based activities such as surfing, kayaking, and snorkeling, while their massages and guided meditations are also a must on your trip.

6. Enjoy the beauty of Thailand

No surprises here, as Thailand has always been the land of slowing down, discovering holistic treatments unlike any other, and exotic food to tease even the pickiest foodie’s palate. Cape Panwa’s Amatara Wellness Resort remains one of the most sought-after in the country, although every other on offer is as majestic as you can possibly imagine.

7. Explore the hidden nooks of Greece

The people-packed islands are not the only side of this life-loving country. In fact, it’s the hidden little getaways that make it so alluring to the luxury travelers of the world. The Peloponnese’s Euphoria Resort is one of those less-known locations with unparalleled spa treatments, and the setting of the entire resort is as enchanting as any other turquoise-laden sunny shore of Greece.

8. California’s best-kept secrets

The Golden State protects its reputation for fine dining, delightful wine, and extraordinary relaxation treatments with its many coastal retreats you can choose from. The only difficulty you’ll experience is selecting just one of many Californian spots known for truly divine wellness programs.

9. Find your Zen in Portugal

Another wine country filled with wonderful yoga escapes for the soulful, Portugal is literally brimming with destinations that will provide you with a slow-paced getaway of a lifetime. Combined with their truly unique cuisine, the backdrop of natural diversity, and a unique historic legacy, Portugal is indeed a destination on the rise for 2019, and its healthy holidays will only boost its reputation.

10. Book your getaway in Costa Rica

This Central American gem has always been the epitome of all things exotic and beautiful, and it remains one of the most popular destinations for nature-lovers. With its waterfall-laden rainforests and its mesmerizing coast, you can expect a pampering of a lifetime wherever you decide to stay in Costa Rica in 2019.

 

The world is chock-full of relaxing spots for you to explore, but these ten remain the most alluring ones thus far. Put them on your travel map for this year, and you’ll elevate your own perception of wellness and relaxation to a whole new level of perfection!

 

By Peter Minkoff

Peter is a lifestyle and travel writer at Men-Ual magazine, living between Ústí nad Labem and Antwerp. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.

Life Is Beautiful: Part XII.

Life Is Beautiful

Part XII: Live the Life You Want – Part II[1],[2]

The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”— Robert Byrne

James A. Cusumano, PhD; Chairman Chateau Mcely s.r.o. Prague, Czech Republic

In the last article in this series [3], I presented proven guidelines on how to “Live The Life You Want”. In this one, I share with you a means to accomplish this while simultaneously helping to make this troubled world a better place. What follows is based on what I have learned over the years from ancient wisdom thinkers of the East and from a number of modern-day philosophers.

The Source

Some years ago, I attended a lecture on consciousness by Deepak Chopra. It was inspiring and filled with valuable thoughts on how to make a positive difference in this world and at the same time live a life of fulfillment.

He pointed out there are two attributes over which we have absolute control, and which not only can create a more fulfilled life, but also help heal the world. Those attributes are living a life of love and gratitude practiced through the power of meditation.

Here I share the essence of his lecture and some additional thoughts to complement Deepak’s insights.

The Process

There’s a saying, “We are known by the company we keep”, and we tend to inherit the beliefs of those with whom we spend the most time. Their philosophies then become ingrained in our subconscious mind.

In fact, research clearly shows we function primarily with our subconscious mind (88 percent) which has been programmed by others conditioning [see Figure 1]. However, as human beings we have the unique ability to change this.

We can reprogram our subconscious by releasing negativity, interacting with likeminded conscious people, enjoying inspirational sights and sounds, engaging in uplifting activities and anchoring our intended desires and values within our subconscious through frequent practice of meditation. In this way we can develop new positive ways of living and begin to clear our subconscious of ideas, concepts and values that do not serve us well.

As discussed in the past, true transformation is brought about by two qualities inherent in human consciousness – Attention or focus and Intention, a clear vision of your desired outcome. Attention energizes this process and intention can make the desired transformation a reality. What we place our attention on expands in our lives and our intention for the object of our attention orchestrates the intelligent forces of the universe to support our desired result [See Figure 2].

Harnessing this power of attention and intention can change your life to reflect exactly what you envision. During meditation, entering into what is known in quantum physics as “the energy field of all possibilities” allows you to access and use your innate creative powers and change situations in your life to those that are more desirable.[4]

For instance, let’s say you live an hour’s drive from the sea and want to move closer to the shore. Then you might envision a three-bedroom home one block from the water’s edge with a vegetable garden and a lawn for your dog. Being specific helps crystallize the vision and imprints it not only in your mind, but also within the forces of the universe. When you go into meditation, look at your intention, enjoy its presence in your mind for a few minutes and then let it go. Surrender it to the “energy field of all possibilities” and allow the universe to work out the details.

A personal example – a few years ago, my wife, Inez and I decided that although we liked living in the Old Town of Prague, our daughter, Julia was becoming more and more involved with afterschool activities at the International School she attends. We made the decision that we would find and move to a home within easy walking distance to her school. We began by deciding what a perfect home would look like for us – a “fixer-upper” that Inez could renovate into something customized for our needs; a large garden with a swimming pool for Julia and her friends to play in and close proximity to the forest so that we could frequently and easily go for hikes in nature. Many people told us our expectations were unrealistic for the specific area we had chosen. We didn’t let this deter us from our goal. We began a frequent process of meditating on our dream home. A number of months later, we found it – exactly as we had envisioned it.

Whether you believe it or not, you possess the power to live a life filled with love, joy, health, compassion, friends, material possessions and whatever else you choose. As discussed elsewhere,[5] there are only two rules for success – your intentions should cause no harm to anyone, and second, in even the smallest way, it should make a positive contribution to this world. I encourage you to expect and accept this ultimate good and revel in the actuality of whatever you successfully manifest into your life.

Each morning you get out of bed, start the day with this thought –“Today, I embrace my potential to be, do and have whatever I can dream”– and whatever you do – please believe it!

The Power

The reality and source of all abundance is unlimited within the Intelligence of the universe. When properly accessed, mind, matter and consciousness work seamlessly hand-in-hand to manifest the abundance you seek into your life. In the “field of all possibilities”, I suggest you dwell on the seeds of success and live from within. Here your desires are fulfilled and often with minimal effort.[6]

Consider what some might consider a miracle, a coincidence or just plain good luck. Ask yourself, “How long does it take for a dream to come true – if at all?”In the minds of some, very specific conditions must be met, plans and strategies must be in place, a certain amount of time must pass and lots of effort usually is required.

However these requirements all spring from our three-dimensional five-sense world. In deeper levels of consciousness, what we call a dream, a miracle or a lucky coincidence can happen in a short period of time. Is a lucky coincidence something that happens to some, but not to others, or could it be that what we call “luck” is the result of focused attention and intention at a deeper level of consciousness?

Having your dreams fulfilled is not the result of luck. In fact, luck is a concept conjured up by those who have not yet discovered the incredible power of living in alignment with their Personal Consciousness and the infinite intelligence of the universe, namely Cosmic Consciousness.[7] Some might call the latter, God. While it is certainly spiritual in the sense that it is not a physical part of our three- dimensional world, it is not God as envisioned by any organized religion.

It’s becoming increasingly clear from advances in quantum physics that there is a cosmic framework and intelligence that permeates the universe – and that intelligence is within you. It can serve you through attention and intention when you quiet the “noise” of the world through the practice of meditation.

Once you realign with your Personal Consciousness, you will find that you can spontaneously fulfill your desires and enjoy what some call a miracle. There will never be a need to worry about when, or if your dreams will come true if you trust that they will through the practice of attention – intention – meditation.

Take a moment to envision an everyday “miracle” you would like to happen in your life. Consider your circumstances as they are now and how you’d like them to be. For instance, perhaps you work as an engineer, but have always wanted to express your artistic side. Paying attention to your body, notice how you feel when you think about your current circumstances and when you focus on your dream. Notice any feelings of comfort or discomfort, sadness or joy – they are telling you something. Your body is a wonderful tool to help align you with the power of your Personal Consciousness. Watching how it feels can help you to make creative choices that will bring you closer to what you desire.

Living Love

An Indian sage once said, “Life is love and love is life.” What keeps the body together but love? What is desire, but love of the self? And what is knowledge, but love of truth? The means and forms may be right or may be wrong, but the motive behind them is always love – love of the “me” and the “my,” or love of the “you” and the “yours”.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It can heal and inspire and bring us closer to the higher-self, i.e., Personal Consciousness. Love is an eternal never-ending gift to us and others. And when we truly experience it, we find our true selves – not our physical body, but that infinite, eternal piece of you called Personal Consciousness – your soul – if you want to call it that.
Like a tiny spark that ignites a blaze that consumes a vast forest, a spark of love is all it takes to experience its full force in all its splendor.

The practice of living love exemplifies the unlimited abundance of the universe. In ancient India the ecstasy of love was called Ananda, or bliss consciousness. The ancient wisdom seekers maintained that humans are meant to partake of this Ananda. Living our life with love for the benefit of ourselves, for others and for the world, helps us realize our true nature – Sat, Chit, Ananda – existence, consciousness, bliss.

Living from love helps heal the world and simultaneously attracts more goodness to you. Therefore, to experience true abundance in your life, live the love that you were created to be, the love that you are and watch your life flourish as you help the world in whatever way you choose. Practice living love by simply offering a kind word or thought to everyone you meet, recognizing it’s the greatest gift you can give to anyone.

Living Gratefully

Experiencing gratitude is one of the most effective ways of getting in touch with your Personal Consciousness. When you feel gratitude, your ego steps out of the way, enabling you to experience and enjoy compassion and understanding. Genuine gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to invite more happiness and fulfillment into your life. It is as if you are saying to Cosmic Consciousness, “Please give me more of this!” When you connect with gratitude you feel bliss for no reason. Simply being alive to gaze at the stars and appreciating the miracle of life itself brings you happiness.

To feel gratitude, sit in a quiet place, take 10 slow deep inhales and exhales and then consider all of the gifts you have in your life – nurturing, loving relationships, connections to very special beings, the miracle of your body, your fertile mind and material comforts. Appreciating your life in this manner sweeps away any thought of limitation and reminds you of the positive things that surround you. You realize that all of these things are gifts. If you want a little help with this, listen to the 6-minute video in the reference below.[8]

As you move into that place of gratitude, notice the warmth, love, compassion and sense of connection that enters your heart. This is called gratefulness which is synonymous with happiness [See Figure 3]. Find peace in knowing there is a plan moving you forward on both your physical and consciousness evolutionary journey. Find the seeds of goodness in every situation and embrace each moment of your life as an opportunity to evolve into a more loving and thankful being.

By giving thanks for all you have and committing to live a life of love and gratitude, abundance is certain to flow to you. That is the attractive power of love and gratitude.

Sat, Chit, Ananda!
Enjoy your journey, make a difference!

 


[1] EDITOR’S COMMENT— This is the tenth article in a series based on the author’s book, “Life Is Beautiful: 12 Universal Rules,”Waterfront Press, Cardiff California, 2015.

[2]  The author may be reached at Jim@ChateauMcely.Com.

[3]See CZECH & SLOVAK LEADERS Magazine, Volume IV, pp. 76 – 77, 2018.

[4] There is a direct and strong connection between consciousness and the laws of quantum physics. Over the years, most physicists steered clear of this connection, believing it shrouded in the realms of metaphysics and the paranormal. More recently, it’s become clear that new ad- vances in this field such as quantum computing and quantum cryptography will require taking this connection into account. See reference 6 for further details.

[5] James A. Cusumano, Life Is Beautiful: 12 Universal Rules, Waterfront Press, Cardiff, California, 2015.

[6] For the details of how all of this works, see James A. Cusumano, Cosmic Consciousness: Are we Truly Connected?, Fortuna Libri, Prague, 2011 (First Edition); Second updated edition presently in the publication process by Waterfront Press, Cardiff, California, 2019.

[7] Ibid.

[8]  https://vimeo.com/44131171

[Figure 1] 

Most of your mind (88 %) functions in the subconscious. Only 12 % serves you in the conscious state.

[Figure 2] 

Attention and Intention in the state of Meditation are the most effective means to capture the power and intelligence of the universe and create the life you want – and simultane- ously help heal the world.

[Figure 3] 

It is not happy people, who are grateful, but grate- ful people, who are happy. Gratefulness always leads to long- term fulfillment and happiness.

2019 – the year of the robo?

Happy New Year! And what a year it may well turn out to be.

Despite the deluge of Regulations and Directives in 2018, I believe that it will be the next 12 months when we will see and feel the true effects of these.

In addition, will 2019 see the true rise of so-called robo advice?

As you are no doubt aware, there has been a great deal of interest and activity in the area of automated advice in recent times. Whilst originally seen as a major threat to the mainstream retail advice sector, the impact so far has been fairly minimal. This is no doubt due to many factors but I personally think that one of the major issues has been timing – those services that have launched are probably too early.

At this stage, one of the problems with fully automated advice is that the business models simply don’t work commercially. In the UK, for instance, the average client acquisition cost is in excess of £200 and with an average investment in the lower tens of thousands it is impossible to make any reasonable return. Figures released by Nutmeg not so long ago showed that, on average, clients needed to be with them for at least 10 years before profitability was reached!

This obviously puts the entire business model in doubt and, in particular, the ability to raise funds via Private Equity or Venture Capital, given that they usually require an exit strategy within 5 years.

However, business models are changing, not least in the UK, and advisory firms are increasingly gaining significant tangible assets that could be leveraged in order to offer a 5 year exit, which is highly likely to create serious interest from PE and VC operations.

Most people accept that, in the longer term, increasing numbers of younger generations will more easily and readily “buy online”, if this is linked to a more robust education programme the sector could have long term attraction. However, this is not likely to be seen in any significant sense for at least 10 years; not because of the technology but simply the time required for those generations to generate sufficient wealth to make the business model work.

The US has been operating automated advice models for some time and there has definitely been a move towards hybrid models, where advisers are integrated into the digital process at some point. This seems a far more sensible and viable approach, and offers both sectors – technology and advisory – significant growth possibilities. Currently it seems that these sectors operate in isolation and there is little co-ordinated cross-fertilisation. This is an area that offers scope for serious potential opportunities.

There is a well-publicised advice gap in the UK, with more potential clients than the industry is capable of catering to. Similar “gaps” exist elsewhere and are very likely to widen, as the UK’s did, with increased regulation. Anyone who can successfully bring the three key parties together – namely, “robo advice” firms, financial advisory businesses, PE/VC investors – could find that the future is very rosy. And help to narrow that gap for the benefit of all.

Will 2019 be the year when we start to see this happen…?

Paul Stanfield
Chief Executive at FEIFA / FECIF Secretary General

The Best Places to Travel in February

Winter is moving along, so if you haven’t dusted off the skis or taken advantage of the warm outerwear you’ve received as gifts or bought for yourself, it’s time to plan a trip to a snowy destination. Vail is not only a classic ski city with hills for all levels of skiers and lessons for those who need to refresh their skills, but it’s a charming town with lots going on. Events there in February promise to be exciting and fun, even (and maybe especially) for spectators. On the East Coast, there’s Burlington, Vermont on Lake Champlain’s shores with a choice of local ski resorts. About four hours north, Quebec will be celebrating Winter Carnival with a variety of cold weather activities and the ice hotel will make its annual three-month appearance.

If you’re getting chills just thinking about sleeping on a slab of ice, let’s shift to warmer destinations. The Exumas, part of the Bahamas, will have toasty temperatures and sunny skies. The Maldives, another island locale with sandy beaches, balmy breezes, and warm water, is known for superb diving and snorkeling among its coral reefs. Closer to home for most, Fort Lauderdale will have mild weather and much to do in the midst of Florida’s tourist season.

For celebrations, there’s Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year festivities, as they welcome the Year of the Pig with parades, fireworks, and traditional events. For one of the world’s most exciting pre-Lenten carnivals, Tenerife will astound with at least two weeks of merrymaking. For visitors who might enjoy some quiet moments between parties, there are miles of stunning beaches for relaxation.

A trip to Italy is always a pleasure, and the small city of Verona would please romantic travelers, and anyone who enjoys delicious food, historic buildings, and Italian wines. Speaking of wine, we also present South Africa in February — warm, fun, and home to hundreds of premium wineries set in gorgeous landscapes. Albuquerque, New Mexico should be on travelers’ lists of destinations to explore, with its pleasant February weather, opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, ride in a hot air balloon over gorgeous mountains, and learn about the native cultures of this historic area.

Think about a February getaway to one of these spots or get inspired by the suggestion of a winter trip, either to escape the cold or get right into it. Spring is coming soon upon the heels of this short month.

Verona, Italy

Set on the Adige River in Italy’s Veneto region, about an hour’s train ride west of Venice, Verona is a picturesque medieval city. Valentines seeking to celebrate the February holiday in a romantic locale might consider this city where Shakespeare’s ill-fated lovers, Romeo and Juliet, met and professed their love. The famous balcony and bronze statue of Juliet at the Casa di Giulietta deserve at least a brief visit if only for a photo and perhaps to leave initials or a padlock on the lovers’ wall. The building was featured in the 2010 film “Letters to Juliet” and in Zeffirelli’s 1968 “Romeo and Juliet.” From there, visitors will want to explore the 1st-century Roman amphitheater, setting for the summer opera festival and open year-round. A glass of prosecco or cocktail at a café on the expansive Piazza Bra would provide time to relax and do some people watching. Once the town’s forum during Roman Times, the Piazza delle Erbe is another inviting locale with views of beautifully preserved baroque buildings, and the Torre del Gardello clock tower. For a spectacular view of the river and the city, take the funicular or hike to the hilltop Piazzale Castel San Pietro. If time allows, a side trip to Venice or to nearby Lake Garda would be a convenient and memorable addition to a romantic vacation.

Vail, Colorado

Home of the Vail Ski Resort, one of the country’s largest and most popular, Vail is located in the Rocky Mountains about 100 miles west of Denver and 30 miles east of Eagle, Colorado. A variety of terrain, generous snowfall, mountain views, and an inviting European-style town with heated cobblestone streets combine to make Vail a beloved ski destination. One of the first resorts to welcome snowboarders, Vail is home to the annual Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championship, to be held Feb. 25-March 2, 2019. The schedule also includes four nights of free musical performances, late night shows, parties, and other events. Vail Legacy Days, a four-day celebration of the town’s history, will be held from Feb. 15-18, beginning with the Mountain Parade. Vail Village offers a variety of dining spots from casual to upscale, art galleries, and hundreds of shops and boutiques. Lodging at all levels is also available, including ski in/ski out hotels, B&Bs, resorts, and condo rentals. Vail’s first hotel, The Lodge at Vail, located just steps away from the new Gondola One, has been renovated while maintaining its historic alpine chalet style. The Vail Marriott Mountain Resort is another option for a luxurious place to spend the night after a day on the slopes.

Read more.

CzechImage Exhibition Opening

CzechImage exhibition opening took place at Czech Centres Gallery in Rytířská 31, on 10th of December, 2018. The topic of CzechImage was first introduced in January when students of Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Art and Design have been asked to reflect on their homeland. The exhibition features students’ works from ten countries – Spain, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Japan. Part of the exhibition is dedicated to reminiscence of the Ladislav Sutner Faculty of Art and Design.

Are businessmen from Central Europe afraid to cooperate with their Chinese business colleagues?

Dr. Eva Gáboríková, M.A., PhD.

As a cross-cultural consultant and trainer Eva supports international companies in Europe, Asia and USA to establish an effective intercultural communication and cooperation at all management levels, on production sites and in multicultural teams.
Eva encourages leaders to introduce their global visions and strategies, team leaders to implement cross-cultural projects and build new corporate culture.
Based on her experience, she shares case studies and recommendations to inspire managers in their cross-cultural development. Only those who understand how culture shapes our business perceptions and behaviours can be successful on global markets!

“They say “yes” but don’t keep the agreement.” or “When we meet, we do not discuss business.”These and many other sentences I can hear very often when my clients talk about their Chinese business colleagues. They realize that Chinese companies and their representatives are important business partners. Only some, however, invest their time into cross-cultural training.

Let’s have a look at the key areas which have a decisive impact on cross-cultural cooperation with Chinese business colleagues and partners.

To build or not to build relationships? The countries of Central Europe belong among the cultures which need relationships to cooperate with their colleagues, friends and business partners. They start with small talk to build a bridge and open a gate to business negotiations and cooperation. However, they do not expect a long discussion or require several meetings. After a few sentences they get down to business and relationships are being developed as business is conducted or a task is going to be accomplished.

When we compare Central European countries with China, we could see that dimension of relationships building has a distinctly different meaning.

An essential important factor in making a good impression with Chinese nationals is to build relationships and cultivate networks carefully (in Chinese: “guanxi”). Building a friendship has to come before business is done – trust and mutual respect are essential – and this complex and intricate networking system governs all business deals. Some may complain that this takes too much time, but we must understand that it contributes directly to business success. We can equate it to collecting poker chips… the more we collect by accepting hospitality, attending banquets and drinking sessions, offering and receiving small gifts, exchanging favours… the more we have in our hand to “play” with when the need arises.

Honour is probably the most important part of the Chinese psyche, roughly translated in Chinese as “mianzi”. Saving, giving and receiving face is critical to the Chinese culture, the importance of which tends to be lost on typical Western cultures (though you will find something similar in Arabic cultures). It’s the social perception of a person’s prestige and honour – and the critical importance of nurturing that for business success. Causing someone to lose face will result in a loss of trust in the relationship. Having face means maintaining high status in the eyes of one’s peers and is a mark of personal dignity. Face must be gained and maintained in all aspects of both social and business life and it can be given, lost, taken away or earned. Causing someone to lose face by insulting them, belittling them, or even simply directly pointing out an error is considered to be a very serious gaffe.

The cultures of Central Europe are also described as indirect and non-confrontational when they deliver feedback or feel that there is some conflict in a team. They do not openly approach a problem but their behaviour, seeming indifference and avoidance signal that something is wrong. They do not have any special word to describe it but they expect direct cultures “not to be rude” and to avoid open criticism. However, when they are on the stage with their Chinese colleagues, they are lost. Their own filters do not work and are not sure how to conduct a professional discussion, agree on the terms of delivery or provide feedback. It seems to them that their Chinese colleagues don’t listen or react to their words.

In China, one must respect social, professional, and political hierarchy at all times. This is a Confucius concept dating back thousands of years, so it’s certainly not up to other cultures to try and change it, whether we agree with it or not. In Chinese companies, decisions are made from the top and you may find information-sharing is frustratingly limited based on rank and status. Respect for hierarchy takes precedence over the business interests, because once you lose the trust your professional relationship may never recover.

Where could be traced the origin of hierarchy in Central European cultures? People are sometimes surprised to learn that their current private and business behaviour also goes back several hundreds of years. The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary were a part of Austrian Hungarian monarchy where noble titles and status determined behaviour and rights of people. Therefore, they respect the status of their boss, use university degrees on their business cards and do not overcome the frontiers of their competencies. However, when they face Chinese hierarchy, they comment it as “too much”.

As a rule, Chinese nationals prefer not to communicate directly, but rather tend to politely infer and allow others to make the same inferences, which eventually brings everyone to a common understanding. Aside from being quite modest the Chinese tend to avoid conflict and confrontation, since harmony in their culture is precious and essential. Praise is always more constructive than criticism, so we must be tactful with words we chose, especially when delivering what we perceive to be “constructive criticism”. “This report is crap” can often be perceived as “you are crap” – clearly not the way to go to make friends and influence people. You will find that a typical Chinese national may hedge the answers to questions if they know the listener won’t like the answer. Frankness is generally not appreciated by the Chinese and direct questioning is seen as rude. Politeness is more important than frankness, so they typically won’t say “no” directly – even when they, in fact, clearly mean“no”. Negative answers are to be avoided, as they can cause loss of face – the importance of which we’ve explored above.

Germans and Dutch businessmen as representatives of direct cultures often struggle with an indirect communication style of their colleagues from Central Europe. The Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians are quite direct when they discuss business procedures and projects. However, when there is time for feedback or an open clarification of disagreement, they switch their communication style to an indirect one and prefer to use statements “ I’m not sure.” or “Maybe.”

When roles change and they should negotiate or cooperate with their Chinese partners, they are suddenly “those” who are rude and impolite. Their feedback is direct, they deliver an open criticism and are impatient discussing alternatives.

While Western thought tends to be dominated by linear logic (for example, A+B=C), Chinese thinking allows for much more flexibility. The Chinese may start with A, jump to F, spend some time with B, have cocktails with K, and then eventually bring it on home to C. Chinese thinking is influenced by early philosophers, who saw a paradoxical balance of opposites in all things. While Westerners tend to look for clear, black and white alternatives (Option 1 instead of option 2), the Chinese may examine ways to combine both options in the interest of maintaining harmony and nurturing trust and good will. This is evidenced in so many examples in both professional and personal life. Signing a contract with a Chinese partner doesn’t necessarily mean negotiations are over; with changing circumstances, your partner may wish to alter the signed agreement, and this is seen as a perfectly acceptable and wise state of evolving affairs.

Flexibility is valued in Central Europe. However, it should be connected with the agenda, deadlines and contracts. Being in touch with Austrians and Germans for several centuries, Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians belong among linear and monochronic cultures. Once they agree on some deadline or contract conditions, they expect everybody to follow it strictly. They spend a lot of time on precise wordings and usually check the exact meaning of words used in agreements and contracts.

Every game has rules which we should know to be able to play it. The same is true for cultures. To understand and cooperate with our colleagues we should know their values and norms of behaviour. Once we know them, we can start to play. We should, however, be open-minded and rethink our strategy after each step. The purpose of a cultural game is not to win but to have fun, be happy, creative and move forward common projects and tasks.

Helen Bannigan owns a global communications company that specializes in providing marketing and PR services for sustainable businesses around the world. She guides executives on establishing credibility and visibility in multi-cultural environments, including the US, Europe and Asia, giving workshops and talks in English, Italian and French. You can reach her at helen@bannigan.com or www.bannigan.com.

Eva Gaborikova is an intercultural consultant and certified ICF leadership coach supporting leaders and multicultural teams all over the world. She supports international companies in Central Europe and their HR managers to build talent development trainings. You can reach her at: egaborikova@gmail.com or www. evagaborikova.eu.

By Dr. Eva Gaborikova, M.A., PhD. and Helen Bannigan

Looking Ahead to 2019

INHERITANCE OF THE 2018 TRANSFORMATIVE TRENDS AFFECTING 2019

The main transformative trends in 2018 that will affect next year will concern at least the following three different global and interconnected sectors: Economic & Financial Area; Security; Dismantling of the Old World Order.

Economic & Financial Area

Regarding the economic and financial area, it will be necessary to monitor the growing importance of advanced technologies and their applications in the production cycles of the most industrial nations. In the next year, we will face a sort of rationalization of these production processes that will profoundly change the evolution of the current social equilibrium within nations and also the relations between states and large financial organizations. According to some analytical studies, a third of US workforce (about 50 million people) could be transformed by 2020. Furthermore, we will witness the explosion of new markets based on the technological needs of the elderly and the disabled people. We will also face the increase of cryptocurrencies. The knowledge and management of new technologies – ICT, AI, blockchain. 3D printing mainly – will constitute the challenge of the next decade between the major world powers and the main investment groups.

Security

The impact of the advanced technologies on geostrategic decisions will increase. The new technologies will contribute to impressing, in 2019, a decisive turning point in what we can define henceforth as a new global revolution in military affairs. The military-industrial-financial complexes of the major world powers will undergo a complete transformation starting from 2019.

Dismantling of the Old World Order

Another important trend that will affect the global level concerns the dismantling of the old world order based on the criteria of multilateralism. In 2019, we will witness the weakening of large global organizations such as the UN and the reorganization of multilateral consultations regarding international trade, climate issues and regulations on the use of new technologies. This will happen for two main reasons. The first is due to the growing presence and importance of global players of nations like China, Russia, and India, who obviously try to implement their 360 degree spheres of influence, even outside the old institutions born in the so-called bipolar era, when the destinies of the world were substantially decided in Moscow and Washington. The second reason is due to the putting into practice of the “Trump Doctrine,” which, over the past two years, has placed a particularly bilateral strategy on U.S. foreign policy, upsetting the old equilibria.

2019: KEY GEOPOLITICAL CHALLENGES

European Union

A very important transformative trend will concern the European Union. 2018 has been a very critical year for the EU, both on the economic level, but above all on the political and social ones. 2019 will be a year in which the fate of the “European Common House” will be decided. As a consequence of the neopopulist waves and the so-called sovereignist ones that marked the social and political life of the Europeans during 2017-2018, most likely, the elections for the renewal of the European Parliament will reward the anti-European parties. 2019 will therefore be a very unstable year for the economy and politics of the European Union.

Regarding Europe’s role at global level, we have to consider that the contentious relations between the U.S. and China as well as with Russia will impact the European Union in 2019.

For different and divergent aspects, the U.S., Russia, and China have an interest in weakening the European Union.

For the U.S., with Europe in the grip of a political, economic, and financial identity crisis, this situation would allow Washington to “manage” the U.S. economic recovery, especially now that the traditional British ally, thanks to Brexit, is released from the obligations that tied it to Brussels. Moreover, at a geostrategic level, the continuing European crisis allows the U.S. to gain time in making costly decisions and responsibilities in financial terms in the theatres of North Africa and the Middle East.

For Russia, the issue is more delicate and problematic. A weak European Union, according to the Kremlin, would be more malleable in relation to the Ukrainian issue and the sanctions regime that has influenced the Russian economy since 2014. But this could be true, for the short term. In fact, a European Union weakened in the medium and long term would be at the mercy of the strategic interests of the U.S., since the EU is the eastern periphery of the U.S. geopolitical system, built at the end of the Second World War. Ultimately, in the absence of a political EU, the true European “glue” would consist only of NATO’s military-diplomatic device: something that Moscow certainly should not wish.

A fragmented Europe, unable to have a coherent and unitary policy of infrastructural development, does not realistically have the useful force to negotiate – on the basis of equal geopolitical dignity – with China on the great project of the New Silk Road. For this reason, at the moment, a weak Europe is convenient for China. For Beijing it is easier and cheaper to negotiate with individual EU countries and, in some cases, even with regional administrations. Moreover, the absence of a truly European foreign policy allows China to operate in Africa without real competitors, apart from the U.S. and Russia.

Asia

The main geopolitical challenges in Asia will concern relations between the U.S., Japan, and China. Tokyo, although in line with U.S. policies, could be a point of mediation between the different positions of Washington and Beijing.

On the geostrategic level, Washington will have to follow up on the initiatives launched in 2018 with Pyongyang for a complete normalization of relations. It will be a bumpy route, because the conflicting interests of the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China remain in the background of the North Korean issue.

Another very controversial issue about the relations between the U.S. and China will concern Tibet. In particular, in the first months of 2019 Beijing and Washington will have to find a mediation in reference to the effects of the “Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act” (signed by President Trump at the end of 2018) that promotes the access to Tibet of U.S. diplomats, journalists and citizens and denies U.S. visas to Chinese officials considered responsible for blocking access to Tibet.

Another issue that will have considerable geopolitical impacts at regional and global levels is related to the Chinese project of the New Silk Road. Beijing – in order to achieve its objectives – will consolidate its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation.

U.S.-China trade tensions impact

During 2018, the Trump administration has conducted a real trade war against China. In the next year this war will be in a certain way perfected. We have already had warnings of such kind: the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer and daughter of founder of high-tech giant Huawei, constitutes an example of the escalation of the U.S.-China tensions. The tensions between the U.S. and China are not just commercial, but strategic. The U.S. and China compete for technological supremacy. This strategic confrontation will affect the entire global system, impacting the worldwide financial system and determining choices of field between the various countries of the globe.

North Africa, Near and Middle East

In North Africa (particularly in Libya), Moscow’s stabilizing function is destined to grow in importance.

In 2019, we will witness a rearrangement of forces within the quadrants of the Near and Middle East. Despite the Kashoggi affair, the United States will strengthen its ties with Saudi Arabia and will target the new Israeli government to counter Iran’s presence.

The geopolitical and strategic dynamics concerning the area, however, will be affect by the increasing influence of the Russian Federation, Iran and Turkey in the course of the next year.

Central and South America

Although the US has regained some positions in South America, the Chinese presence and, partially also the Russian one, in the area will produce effects on the hegemonic attempt of the Trump Administration. The issue of migration is destined to play an increasing crucial role in Trump’s Central American policy.

An early version of the text appeared with The Diplomat magazine (interview with Kuo Mercy)

Tiberio Graziani
Chairman
Vision & Global Trends
International Institute for Global Analyses
www.vision-gt.eu

8 Dream Trips to Take in 2019 — and Exactly How Much You Need to Save for Them

Glamp by the Grand Canyon

Exploring one of our most sought-after landmarks is a great bucket-list trip that doesn’t require an international flight. Travelers from all over the world flock to the Grand Canyon, so if you can make it happen with one direct, domestic flight, why not save up for that? For Grand Canyon glamping, Under Canvas has chic elevated tents that are just 25 minutes from the South Rim. (And that’s a lot closer than most Airbnbs or hotels will get you to the park.) Their luxury tents sleep four and start at $199 a night, which means you could go with three other travelers and spend $50 a night. You can find flights from New York City to Las Vegas starting at $150 round-trip. Add on a car rental for about $300, entry to the park for $30, and a $300 food budget, and you’d need to save at least $980 for four nights.

Hang With Elephants in Bali

For an unforgettable travel experience, head to Ubud, Bali, where Mason Elephant Adventures is caring for 31 critically endangered Sumatran elephants. This isn’t just an elephant ride, it’s a “dedicated elephant rescue facility” where you’ll learn about the elephants and help bathe them. If you are able to ride them, you’ll sit on light teakwood seats that specifically don’t upset the elephants’ backs — the ride is actually meant to help them get the exercise their bodies need. General admission is around $70. Accommodations are extremely well-priced in Bali — I spent a few nights at a $38 a night Bamboo Treehouse Airbnb. As for flight deals, you can frequently find $600 round-trip flights to Bali if you set the right price alerts. For your flight, a week of lodging, food and drink, and a day with the elephants, you’d want to save at least $1,500.

Explore the Rio de Janeiro Art Scene

To get a feel for the Brazilian arts, you’ll need to take in the galleries, the street art, and the Ipanema Hippie Fair in Rio. Start at contemporary art gallery Artur Fidalgo before taking to the streets in search of native artist Joana Cesar’s work. Finally, visit Ipanema Hippie Fair, a massive craft fair that’s gone up every Sunday since the 1960s, where you’ll find local artisans selling jewelry, paintings, rugs, and leather goods. Seek out UNICEF Market artisans like Tacy, who sells leather handbags, and Ney Cardoso, who sells original canvas paintings. For your Rio art tour, you’ll want to budget about $1,000 for your round-trip flight, an additional $1,000 for a few days of lodging and Brazilian eats, and $100 for gallery entrance fees (most charge a reasonable price for admission). If possible, you may also want to put some savings aside for a piece of art you fall for while in Rio.

Try a Yoga Retreat in Latin America

Latin America has an up-and-coming yoga scene that is relaxing and tropical, but easier to get to than a retreat in India. If you’re interested in a spiritual solo escape that won’t break the bank, find a yoga studio that has lodging on the premises. Om Shanti Belize has cottages for as little as $90 a night, and the property has two pools, a spa/retreat center, and daily yoga classes. Tulum is becoming a yoga retreat hotspot; Maya Tulum Resorthosts at least one retreat a month, where participants can work on their practice by the ocean for a week. Prices vary, but their March retreat with Suddha Weixler is $2,060 and includes lodging, all meals, twice daily yoga, and morning meditation for seven days. For the plane tickets, plan to save about $400 round-trip from the East Coast to the Riviera Maya or Belize.

See the Monarch Butterfly Migration in Mexico

You have to make it all the way to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve to see the butterfly masses cloud the Mexico skies, but it’s well worth it. Best seen in January or February during the early afternoon, you’ll have to travel about two hours outside Mexico City for the spectacle. Nathab, a partner of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), conducts six-day tours to the Sierra Madre Mountains, which gives you three opportunities to see the butterflies and lets you experience authentic Mexican village culture firsthand. Nathab’s six-day expeditions, which include nice lodging and delicious, home-cooked meals, are about $3,395. You’ll want to save an additional $300 for flights to Mexico City as well.

See the rest of the article by Maya Kachroo-Levine here.

Opening of Hana Alisa Omer Exhibition

The opening of an exhibition by Hana Alisa Omer called “A Paradigm Jump” took place December 10th 2018 at Hala C Gallery. The exhibition shows charming images of Prague.

Christmas SKAL Gala Dinner

Photos from Christmas SKAL Gala Dinner held 14.12.2018 at the Grand Hotel Bohemia Prague.

Twinning Europe and Asia in Cyberspace

(the EU Legislation and its transformative power)

While our troposphere is dangerously polluted, one other space – that of intangible world, created by the interconnected technology – follows the same pattern: a cyberspace. Additionally, our cyberspace becomes increasingly brutalised by its rapid monetisation and weaponisation. It mainly occurs through privacy erosion. How to protect effectively individuals and their fundamental human rights, and how to exercise a right for dignity and privacy?

The EU now offers a model legislation to its Member States, and by its transformative power (spillover) to the similar supranational projects elsewhere (particularly ASEAN, but also the AU, OAS, SCO, SAARC, LAS, etc.), and the rest of world.

Technology of today serves not only a Weberian predictability imperative – to further rationalise society. It makes society less safe and its individuals less free.

Prevention of the personal information misuse is the main reason the EU introduced the new set of provisions, as of May 2018. Hence, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an ambitious attempt to further regulate digital technology, especially in respect to the private data protection. It is of course in conformity with provisions of both the Universal and the European Charter of Human Rights.

The intention of legislator behind the GDPR is twofold: to regulate domestically as well as to inspire and galvanise internationally.

ASEAN, INDO-PACIFIC, ASIA

For the rest of the world, the GDPR should be predictive and eventually obligational.
It is obvious that the stipulations of the GDPR would serve well interests of Republic of Indonesia (RI). That is actually in line with a very spirit of the 1945 Constitution, which obliges the state to protect, educate and prosper the Indonesian people. This supreme state act clearly proclaims that the respecting individual personal data is resting upon the two principles of the Pancasila. Namely these of; Fair and Civilized Humanity. Mutual grant and observance of everyone’s elementary rights is an essence of freedom and overall advancement of society.

The government, with the mandate of its authority to protect the public (public trust doctrine), must manage the personal data fairly and accountably. The GDPR also encourages the formation of an independent personal data protection supervisory institution so that it can correct the policies and rules of the bureaucracy and state administration to act accordingly in managing the personal data of the population. Moreover, every democratic government should be more proactive in protecting society when comes to the management of the personal data of its residents.

When comes to the Right to be Forgotten (Right for Privacy and Right for Dignity), Indonesia must see it as a principle of real protection that is in the best interests of data owners. Further on, such a right should be strengthened by the principle of ‘without undue delay’, as to avoid the administrative obligation to request a court decision to uphold the right. On a long run, it will surely benefit businesses far more than the personal data originators themselves.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

Regarding security, Indonesia must immediately have a clear policy on Cryptography to protect personal data. Cryptography is a double-use process; it can be utilised for civilian purposes, but it can also be used for the vital national interests, such as defense and security. Therefore, privacy and cybersecurity protection is a complementary concept of protection. Holistic approach strengthens the both rights of individuals as well as protection of national interests, rather than it ever conflicts one over the other.

Finally, the ASEAN Declaration of Human Rights in its article 21 stipulates that the protection of personal data is elementary part of Privacy. As one of the founding members, a country that even hosts the Organisation’s HQ, Indonesia must observe the notions of this Human Rights Charter. That is the additional reason why RI has to lead by example.

The EU’s GDPR clearly encourages a paradigm shift within the public services and government administration services on national, subnational and supranational level for all the ASEAN member states.

Indonesia and ASEAN can take a lot of learning from the dynamics of the EU’s regulation of GDPR and e-IDAS as to its own benefit – to foster its own security and to elevate a trust in regional e-commerce within the ASEAN economic zone. Since the ASEAN (if combined) is the 4th largest world economy, this is a call of future that already starts now. After all the EU and ASEAN – each from its side of Eurasia – are twin grand projects of necessity, passion and vision.

Naturally, for anyone outside, Indonesia and ASEAN are already seen as the world’s e-commerce hub, of pivotal importance far beyond the Asia-Pacific theatre.

Vienna/Jakarta 28 DEC 2018

 

About the authors:

Prof. Melda Kamil Ariadno (SH, LLM, PhD) is a Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta. She is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Law Universitas Indonesia and the Head of Center for Sustainable Ocean Policy. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Universitas Indonesia in 1992. Then, she received both her LL.M. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1995 and 2011, respectively.

She has served as legal expert for several governmental bodies among others the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

Prof. Anis H Bajrektarevic is chairperson and professor in international law and global political studies, Vienna, Austria. He has authored six books (for American and European publishers) and numerous articles on, mainly, geopolitics energy and technology. For the past decades, he has over 1,200 hours of teaching on the subject International Law. Two of his books are related to cyber space, cyber law and cyber wrongdoings.

Professor is editor of the NY-based GHIR (Geopolitics, History and Intl. Relations) journal, and editorial board member of several similar specialized magazines on three continents.
His 7th book is to be realised in New York in December.

Pilots and Flight Attendants Reveal 15 Secrets You Never Knew About Flying

Whether you get on a plane once a year or once a week, there are probably still a few things you don’t know about flying.

From weird safety features to what happens if someone dies on a plane, there are plenty of hidden aspects to life amongst the clouds.

Here are a few secrets you never know about taking to the skies, according to flight attendants, pilots, and industry experts.

1. That emergency oxygen mask only lasts about 15 minutes.

In what probably sounds like a terrifying revelation, the drop-down emergency oxygen masks on the plane are usually only equipped to pump out oxygen for about 12 to 15 minutes, according to HuffPost.

But don’t freak out. It normally takes a pilot far less time to drop the plane to a safe altitude than it does for those masks to run dry of oxygen.

The important thing is to get your mask on over your nose and mouth as soon as you can, as you risk passing out just 30 seconds after cabin pressure drops to unsafe levels.

2. The chimes you hear during a flight are actually a secret code.

Though they’re not usually conveying anything too exciting. According to a blog post by Quantas Airlines, flight crew usually use a system of chimes and bells to communicate across the cabin. These chime-messages could be about anything from the number of remaining snacks to turbulence detected on the flight path. On rarer occasions, the chimes could be a signal from the cockpit conveying an emergency or change of route.

3. It’s technically impossible to die on a flight.

Although flight crew are trained in basic first aid and some are even qualified to perform resuscitation, most flights do not have any staff members on board who are qualified to declare a time of death.

This means that there is technically no such thing as a mid-flight death in the legal sense, as individuals will only be declared dead upon landing, according to the BBC.

4. But if someone does die, they’ll likely be left in their seat.

If someone does die on a flight, most planes don’t have a special area where the body will be kept until landing.

In the vast majority of cases, the deceased passenger will be strapped back into their designated seat if there isn’t an empty row in which to lay the body down, according to the BBC. The passenger will usually be covered with a blanket.

5. Airplane lavatories can unlock from the outside.

Airplane bathrooms only give you the illusion of privacy. You can actually unlock the doors from the outside via an external lock mechanism, which is usually hidden beneath the “no smoking” sign on the door, according to LifeHacker.

Though it might seem odd, the lavatories unlock from the outside for safety reasons.

6. You basically should never touch the water on a plane.

Even if you’re not a germaphobe, you might want to think twice about ordering tea or coffee on a plane.

According to testing conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2004 and 2012, the drinking water on more than one out of every 10 planes tested positive for “high” levels of coliform, which are potentially harmful bacteria found in human feces.

Though coliform by itself is not a serious hazard, it usually signals the presence of other dangerous microorganisms like E. coli.

While the EPA now requires planes to have their water supply tested once a year, most flight attendants will tell you to avoid the onboard water supply at all costs.

7. Dimming the lights is meant to prepare your eyes for a potential evacuation.

No, the crew isn’t trying to lull you to sleep when they dim the lights for takeoff. Turning down the interior lights is actually done so that passengers’ eyes are already adjusted to the darkness, just in case something goes wrong during takeoff or landing, according to Conde Nast Traveler.

8. Flight attendants don’t get paid until the plane doors close.

Flight attendants who earn an hourly wage don’t actually start getting paid until the aircraft doors close. Similarly, they stop getting paid after the doors open, according to The Points Guy.

That’s right — all that time flight attendants spend getting the plane ready, boarding passengers, doing safety inspections, and getting everyone off the plane is unpaid.

Many European airlines use a salary system for compensating their flight attendants, and most crew members on both sides of the pond receive a tax-free allowance to help them cover expenses like food during their layovers.

9. You can actually ask for a whole can of soda.

Some airlines serve soda and juice by pouring a portion of a normal can into a smaller plastic cup. But most of the time, you can actually just request the entire can, according to HuffPost. Nine times of out 10, they’ll happily oblige you for no extra cost.

10. A plane captain has some serious authority.

Federal regulations give the PIC, or “pilot in command,” pretty much unlimited authority while the plane doors are closed, according to Think Aviation.

A PIC can put a passenger in restraints, take a will, write fines, and refuse entry to a passenger who looks sick. A PIC is the ultimate authority on an airplane — what they say goes.

11. Your boarding pass has a lot of hidden information.

Much of the text on your boarding pass probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to you at first glance, but it actually includes a wealth of interesting — and potentially sensitive information.

The first two letters before the flight number refer to the airline. The numerical portion of your flight number is actually a clue as to what direction you’ll be flying in — odd-numbered flights fly south while even numbers fly west, according to Gizmodo.

Meanwhile, the six-character segment of text on your boarding pass is your booking reference or passenger name record. This little code actually can be used online to look up everything from your destination to your age and credit card information.

12. The tray tables are the dirtiest things on an airplane.

The tray table at your plane seat is probably one of the dirtiest things on your flight. They’re only cleaned “about once a day, usually when the aircraft RONs (remains overnight,” active flight attendant Sara Keagle told HuffPost.

Flight attendants recommend bringing sanitizing wipes with you to wipe down your space, as passengers do everything from drool to change dirty diapers on those tables.

Sometimes too much knowledge can be terrifying.

13. Flight crew don’t really party on layovers.

Federal regulations prohibit flight crew from drinking with eight hours of a flight, and airline rules are usually even stricter. Most flight crew members simply grab some food and hit the sheets after clocking off, as the penalties for being caught drunk or even hungover on the job are severe.

“You can arrive for a flight and someone is there to give you a Breathalyzer or drug test,” Shawn Kathleen says. “Nobody f—- around with that,” former flight attendant Shawn Kathleen told the New York Post.

14. Your flight attendant could probably deliver your baby.

Flight attendants aren’t just waiters in the sky — they have some serious credentials. Training to be a flight attendant involves a host of technical and safety know-how.

As flight attendant Carrie A. Trey told The Points Guy, “practical tests can include learning how to put out fires via simulators, diagnosing various conditions, splinting broken limbs, stopping nosebleeds, administering CPR, and yes, even baby delivery.”

15. Some flight attendant programs are harder to get into than Ivy League schools.

Most people don’t realize how difficult it is to become a flight attendant.

Delta Airlines’ flight attendant training program is notoriously difficult to qualify for. In 2016, only 1% of the 150,000 applicants to Delta’s program were accepted. In comparison, Harvard University’s 2016 acceptance rate was 5.2%

See more.

14th Prague Security Conference – Czechia and Europe 100+

On November 16, 2018 the House for Professed hosted 14th Prague Security Conference. Traditionally organized by the Center for Security Policy (Institute of Political Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University), in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the conference attracted more than two hundred participants.

The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2019

Ask the Travel + Leisure staff where we want to travel in 2019, and most of us will answer, honestly, where don’t we?

When it comes to compiling our annual year-end list of the places we’re most excited about in the coming months, narrowing down the field is easier said than done. We pore over press releases, tourism statistics, and our overflowing spreadsheets of hotel openings, restaurant debuts, and new flight routes. We consider the anecdotal evidence: Where are our friends and families going? What destinations are we seeing on Instagram? Which places seem to be part of today’s travel zeitgeist? And, as always, we turn to our network of travel experts — trusted writers, hospitality professionals, the travel advisors that make up T+L’s A-List — to see where people are actually going, and which places are the ones to watch in the coming year.

This year’s list spans the globe, from exciting southern hemisphere cities like Santiago, Chile, and Brisbane, Australia, to harder-to-reach regions like Langkawi, Malaysia and the Danish Riviera. There are the new capitals of culture — Nairobi, Kenya, home to a emergent design scene, or Panama City, with a deluge of forward-thinking restaurants and bars — and the tourism destinations that are back in fighting form after natural disasters or human conflict, including Puerto Rico, the Turquoise Coast of Turkey, Egypt, and Montecito, California. And, of course, there are the destinations that we haven’t heard much about, but certainly will soon — places like India’s remote Andaman Islands, or the art and history-filled emirate of Sharjah, in the U.A.E., or the under-the-radar wine scene in Etyek, Hungary.

After all, isn’t dreaming about places totally new to us — and seeing old favorites in a new light — why we travel in the first place?

Here are Travel + Leisure’s 50 best places to travel in 2019. If you already know where you’re going in the year ahead, share your travel destination picks with us on social media with #TLBestPlaces.

The Adirondacks, New York

One of America’s first vacation destinations, New York’s Adirondack Mountain region has been luring travelers since the late 19th century with clear lakes, pure air, and 46 high peaks to climb. You can still visit in classic style. Built in 1927, the Hotel Saranac reopened last year after a respectful renovation that brings a touch of urban grandeur to the charming town of Saranac Lake. Hidden in the woods outside of town, The Point is a sumptuous lakeside resort that occupies what was once a “great camp” belonging to members of the Rockefeller family. A change of ownership has brought a welcome refresh to the elevated woodsy décor. — Peter Terzian

Alberta, Canada

Jasper and Banff’s rugged, powdery trails should be enough reason to add Alberta to your winter travel wish list. But this year, happenings off the ski runs have made the Canadian province more exciting than ever. If you’re flying into Calgary, make a detour before hitting the slopes to see the month-old Snøhetta- and DIALOG-designed Calgary Central Library. Covered with 460 white hexagonal panels, it’s set to become an architectural icon. Culture hounds should visit Edmonton’s new Royal Alberta Museum, a $375-million, 419,000-square-foot institution featuring collections on indigenous cultures, a gallery dedicated to insects, and more. Away from the cities, Kananaskis Nordic Spa, the first of its kind in the province, just unveiled a collection of hydrotherapy pools — as well salt exfoliation cabins and eucalyptus steam rooms — right in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. And if you’re in Banff National Park, keep an eye out for bison. Due to overhunting, the animals haven’t been spotted in the area for over a century, but in June 2018, a herd of 31 was released on Banff’s eastern slopes. — Chadner Navarro

Alsace, France

This region in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains produces some of the finest wines on the globe. The stunning Villa René Lalique, whose restaurant has two Michelin stars, is the ideal place to start a sojourn. Visit top wineries like Domaine Weinbach and Maison Trimbach for world-class Gewürztraminers and Rieslings. At Au Trotthus, in Riquewihr, chef Philippe Aubron melds ingredients from France and Japan, where he spent 17 years — chanterelle soup with enoki and truffles, for example. Luxury travelers can even see Alsace by boat: a new barge, the Belmond Lilas, offers private cruises. — Ray Isle

See the rest here.

How to be a Healthier Person in 2019

With festivities rolling in and cold winds arising, we start to make those New Year’s resolutions once again. There is nothing wrong with this tradition, but there are a few problems worth noting. First off, resolutions rarely get translated into reality. Secondly, goals like getting in shape and staying healthy are a challenge during the boisterous time of feasting.

Nevertheless, postponing change is precisely what you want to avoid. After all, healthy living is not some unpleasant and tough endeavor. You can start with baby steps, proceed at your own pace, and make choices that empower you.

Forge mental sturdiness

A combo of lifestyle and attitude changes is what deals a killing blow to the unhealthy person you want to leave behind. And it all starts with the right mindset.

Namely, learn to practice self-awareness on a daily basis. Examine your thoughts and break negative recurring loops. Tell this to yourself: I am in control and I wield the power to reinvent myself.

Just bear in mind that wishful thinking doesn’t make it so. It is just one step on a long journey. Therefore, the next one is to set tangible, realistic and measurable goals. For instance, you can aim to improve your physical health, shed some calories, sculpt your body or enhance your mental health. Maybe you want to achieve all these things, which is totally fine.

Adopt healthy nutrition

You’ve heard it a million times before, but it’s worth repeating: your eating habits play a vital role.

Merely counting calories is not your top priority. Instead, create a balanced diet packed with nutritious food. You cannot go wrong with fresh wholesome food, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Avoid overly processed, sugar-ridden, and canned food like the plague. Also, increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Additionally, abide by the rules. Stop eating out that often. Never skip a breakfast and make sure it is loaded with protein. Cook at home any chance you get and carry your meals to work.

Engage in physical activity

Another staple of health comes in the form of exercise. It boosts your overall health, busts stress and makes you feel better in your own skin.

Here, one of the most common mistakes people make is imitating others and following fads. If you are doing exhausting workout every day and end up feeling miserable, you are not doing it right. Crowded and sweat-soaked gyms are not for everyone, you know.

You need to find something that you dig, an activity that is fulfilling and rewarding. The options are virtually limitless, from riding a bike to your office to dancing in your room. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that even 10 minutes per day bring significant, long-term health benefits. As long as it makes you stay active and happy, it does the trick.

Proper healthcare

Furthermore, embrace a proactive approach to your health.

Regular doctor visits are not something people look forward to, but they are paramount to keeping various health issues and conditions at bay. And don’t wait for symptoms to kick in. Pick a doctor you are comfortable with and schedule medical checkups (especially blood pressure). By taking action today, you steer away from serious problems down the road.

While at it, take time to pamper and invest in yourself. You shouldn’t neglect a single part of your body, including your skin. Buy quality skincare products such as a hydration serum that will make your skin look radiant and smooth. This is a nice way to reward yourself after reaching a certain milestone.

Cherish sleep and rest

Finally, it is time to restore order to your sleeping habits.

Sleep is the silent warden of good health and it also affects your energy levels, functionality and mood. On the other hand, sleep deprivation is linked to a wealth of issues such as fatigue, depression and forgetfulness.

For most people, around eight hours (or somewhere between seven and nine) per night is the sweet spot. You can also throw in some 30 minutes of afternoon napping to be more rested.

Try to go to bed at roughly the same time every night. Banish technology from your sleeping chamber because it only makes you feel more awake. Invest in a quality pillow and a sleeping mattress to improve the quality of your sleep. Finally, darken your room and learn some relaxation techniques to drift away to dreamland effortlessly.

Conclusion

Before the glitter and rowdiness of the New Year take hold, take a moment to rethink your ways. Beyond everything else, you need to prioritize your health, no excuses. To improve it, unlock the power of small daily choices and habits that add up in the long run.

Focus on eating better, getting enough shuteye and being more active. These three aspects of a healthy lifestyle are closely intertwined and dependant on each other. Nurture their synergy to recharge your batteries. Have a fresh start in 2019!

 

By Peter Minkoff

Peter is a lifestyle and travel writer at Men-Ual magazine, living between Ústí nad Labem and Antwerp. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.

Release of the second Moroccan satellite MOHAMMED VI-B

A year after the release of its first MOHAMMED VI-A satellite, Morocco launched a second satellite from the Guyana Space Center on 20/20 November 2018. This will make Morocco one of the few countries in Africa to have a set of satellites for Earth observation at a very high resolution.

The MOHAMMED VI-B satellite and the MOHAMMED VI-A satellite will be supervised by Moroccan engineers and technicians who have completed long-term training both in Morocco and abroad.

Satellite data and views will be used in particular in the following areas:

Cadastre and cartography: topographical cartography of the whole territory of the state and its regular updating, cadastral work, especially boundaries and land surveys, …

Agriculture: Addition of agricultural land by thematic mapping, soil fertility assessment, crop status diagnosis to improve and optimize farmers’ performance, the cartography of irrigated areas, monitoring of agricultural results, …

Water resources: identification of surface waters and wetland mapping, monitoring erosion of beaches and quantification of water volume in lakes and dams, …

Construction and public works, transport: control of structures and linear constructions, tracking the progress of constructions, location and optimization of transport routes, …

Forestry: mapping of forest tree species and updating of forest counts, mapping of burned forest areas, …

Mines and geology: geological mapping of mine deposits and assessment of their extent, analysis of geological structures, exploration of minerals, …

Communication networks: a creation of updated cartographic databases for visualization of road and railway networks, …

Linking to major projects: mapping major projects and monitoring progress in their implementation (solar power plants, wind farms, dams and other infrastructure projects), …

Urban planning and development: monitoring urban and peri-urban development, control of unhealthy housing, ground plans and urban planning, land use mapping and desertification monitoring, …

Oceanography and coastal zones: support for the use, governance and integrated management of oceanographic and coastal areas, assistance in the creation of territorial long-term plans and plans for the use of coastal areas, …

Natural Disasters: Assistance in the case of natural disasters, mapping of affected areas, floods, fires, earthquakes, invasion of grasshoppers, …

Border and coastal surveillance: coastal zone adjustment, land use change analysis, the environmental impact of ports, illegal migratory flows.

Míla Fürstová – Wings for Coldplay

Special screening of the documentary film directed by Peter Hirjak “Míla Fürstová – Wings for Coldplay” at the Dlabačov Cinema.

Third International Week of the Italian Cuisine in the World

The third edition of the Week of Italian Cuisine in the World, which was held from 19 to 25 November 2018, aimed to promote internationally high-quality Italian cuisine and the agri-food sector, the distinctive traits of “Brand Italy” in line with the big themes which were launched by EXPO 2015 Milano and which characterise Italy’s agri-food sector: quality, sustainability, food safety, right to food, education, identity, territory and biodiversity.

In the Czech Republic, an eno-gastronomical gala dinner, held by the Embassy of Italy, was dedicated to the promotion of the products and of the territory of the region Lazio. In the course of the event, which took place in the suggestive baroque chapel of the Italian Culture Institute in Prague, there were presented some of Lazio ́s excellences with a menu which enhanced the region ́s typical products fashioned by starred chef Lele Usai and four stars of the Italian cuisine in Prague: Matteo de Carli, Leonardo Di Clemente, Riccardo Lucque and Emanuele Ridi.

Contrast and Compromise

Chinese – Czech Art Project; Imperial Hall of the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague Castle 27th of November, 2018

The exhibition is a part of the Chinese – Czech Art Project, showing for the first time together works by two painters: A Hai from Shanghai and Pavel Roučka from Prague. Both of them, experienced and well known artists in their own countries, have their own way of artistic expression which is quite different from one another. Although the exhibition could look full of contrast and contradiction, it is a brave and fascinating beginning of the artistic dialogue, connecting two distant cultures.

The opening event took place, November 27, 2018 at the Imperial Hall of the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague Castle. The organizers were Shanghai Bamboo Art Center and L’Étincelle Art Space from Shanghai and Cum Arte from Prague.

Farewell reception of the Ambassador of Bulgaria

Photos from the farewell reception of H.E. Latchezar Petkov, Ambassador of Bulgaria and his wife Boriana.

Peruvian Gastronomy Festival A Melting Pot of Cultures and Flavors

Held under the auspices of H.E. Liliana De Olarte de Torres-Muga, Ambassador of Peru to the Czech Republic

The Franz Kafka INTERNATIONAL LITERARY PRIZE 2018

The Franz Kafka Society was proud to announce this year ́s laureate of the prestigious Franz Kafka Prize, the Czech poet Ivan Wernisch awarded on Monday, 22nd October 2018 in the Old Town Hall in Prague.

Ivan Wernisch became the eighteenth laureate of this international literary prize awarded by the Franz Kafka Society in cooperation with the Capital City of Prague.

The mission of the Franz Kafka Prize is the evaluation of artistically exceptional literary creation of contemporary authors whose work addresses the readers regardless of their origin, nationality and culture, as well as the work of Franz Kafka himself, one of the greatest authors of modern world literature.

Gala Event at CTU

The Czech Technical University in Prague organized the prestigious collaboration of a Czech-Israeli Innovation and Entrepreneurship Workshop

The Jiebing Chen concert, Chinese virtuoso on the Erhu, an ancient Asian musical instrument

12/11/2018 at the MIRO Gallery Prague

Korean National Day Reception and Hanji Exhibition on the occasion of 100th Anniversary of the Establishment of Czechoslovakia

The Embassy of the Republic of Korea held a special National Day reception and an exhibition of Hanji, traditional Korean hand-made paper, marking the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia.

At Korean National Day Reception on 3 October at Žofín palace, Hanbok, traditional Korean clothing, was presented during the fashion show prepared by designer Kim Hye-soon. All guests enjoyed Korean food and traditional Korean liquor as well.

The exhibition “Hanji, Journey to Czechia (Hanji, cesta do Česka)” opened from 6 to 8 November at Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. It consisted of framework exhibitions of memorable photographs in the histories of the Czech Republic and the Republic of Korea, paper sculptures made by artist Kim Young-hee and historical artifacts. In addition, workshops for students and seminars for the restoration of old books took place.

Round Table of Comenius

Discussion meeting with Miroslav Toman,
Minister of Agriculture

October 31st 2018, TOP HOTEL Praha

On Wednesday October 31st, another traditional Round Table of Comenius discussion took place in the TOP HOTEL Praha. This time with the Minister of Agriculture as the main guest speaker, whose presence attracted unique audience including more than 70 VIP guests.

10 of the Best Road Trips in the World

There’s something rather magical about roads. Some of the world’s most beautiful roads are not that visited simply because of where they lead, but that doesn’t make them destinations we shouldn’t see at least once in our lifetime. And even though all of us rather opt for hotel-based stays at different exotic places, perhaps it’s time to consider heading a certain destination and organizing a road trip there so that we actually see what that specific place has to offer. What are the top 10 best road trips of the world?

1. Brazil’s Costa Verde

A road trip that’s rather long but that still won’t make you lose any interest, not for a second, is the one of Costa Verde. The whole road streches for 370 kilometres, with a plethora of options for you to stop by and be mesmerized. The whole drive is along the Brazilian coast which makes this road trip even more interesting, and the reward of finishing it is spectacular – the last stop is Copacabana, the world’s longest beach that you simply have to see!

2. New Zealand’s Milford Road

This road trip will certainly leave you in awe, just like the entirety of this magnificent country. Once you land in New Zealand, the best idea would be to consider Avis car rental, rent the perfect car for you and head one of its most beautiful roads – the Milford Road. Once here, you will witness everything – from the mesmerizing, towering mountains to gorgeous landscape until you meet the Tasman sea. Bring your camera as nobody will believe you saw this beauty unless you have proof!

3. The California coastline

One of the most popular road trips is definitely the one that starts in San Francisco and finishes in Los Angeles. If you catch the perfect moment when there’s not a lot of traffic, the whole drive will take you no more than six hours. If you want some extra hours, we suggest you take Highway One. This road trip shows what America is all about, and you will witness some of the most spectacular sights here.

4. Route 66

While we’re still in America, we cannot fail to mention the legendary Route 66, which is, according to many, one of the most beautiful roads in the world. Start from Illinois, pass the world’s largest Catsup Bottle, go around the Cadillac Ranch and finish into the Petrified Forest National Park. Take a couple of hours there and take photos; this national park is by far one of the most magical ones in the USA. Once done, continue your road trip until you get to Santa Monica.

5. Iceland’s Ring Road

If you’re up for a real challenge, then you should pick Iceland as your destination. Make sure to book your plane tickets in advance, and book a car immediately once you get there. The Ring Road of Iceland is definitely the extremely magical place; it’s also known as the Route 1 and is regarded as Iceland’s #1 route. The whole road trip can take even 10 days, but every single second is worth it.

6. South of France

France might not be the country where many road trip through, but the south of France is so beautiful it would be a shame not to see everything – especially Nice and the Cote d’Azur Region. Choose spring or summer to go here as the weather is the best then.

7. Australia’s Great Ocean Road

We rarely associate December and Xmas with the beach, but this is a perfect moment to see Australia’s most popular route – the Great Ocean Road. Stretching across 300 km on the South-eastern coast of Australia, from Melbourne to the Victorian city of Torquay, this road has so many breathtaking places to offer.

8. Namibia, Africa

Africa is definitely not the most popular touristic place, let alone a place many opt to organize a road trip in. However, Namibia might be Africa’s secret pearl, and it’s a perfect place for a road trip, especially for people who are constantly looking for something new and exciting. Driving a couple of days through the empty African road, exploring the Namib desert and African wildlife and experiencing the eeriness of the Skeleton Coast really sounds quite interesting.

9. Germany’s Romantische Strasse

Do you want to feel like a character from a fairytale for at least a couple of days? If the answer is yes, then you should book your tickets to Germany and organize a road trip along the Romantische Strasse. This road takes its drivers throughout some of the most magical German villages that look like they’ve just come out of a story book. Apart from that, you will see many castles, finally ending up in the foothills of the Alps.

10. Uzbekistan’s Golden Road

Perhaps you’re not familiar with the name “Golden Road”, but what if we told you that this route used to be called “The Silk Road”? This is a great route if you want to experience how ancient people lived – take your camera and document all the ancient ruins that you encounter.

Did we convince you to leave that hotel-stay holiday for some other time? Opting for a road trip on one of these destinations is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it would be such a shame not to go for it.

By Peter Minkoff

Peter is a lifestyle and travel writer at Men-Ual magazine, living between Ústí nad Labem and Antwerp. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.

Hate sales? You’re in trouble…

ALENA HUBEROVA – Presentation coach, speaker and communications trainer

Remember the last time you asked for a budget approval from your boss? Or a few hundred euros more on your monthly paycheck? And what about the time that you got a brilliant idea and tried to get people buy into it?

If you normally get what you want, fabulous! You can turn the page right away because evidently there’s nothing new that you’ll learn from my article. But if there are times when you ended up frustrated by not getting the support you need, or worst still, if you stopped trying to push your ideas through because you can’t face yet another rejection, let’s see if I can give you some fresh hope!

The reality is that even if the word ‘sales’ is not part of your job title, you always sell. Whether asking your boss for a new headcount or asking your partner to join you on a sightseeing trip to Afghanistan, you always sell! And so you might as well understand how this works and test some of my tips to increase your chances of getting peoples’ buy-in.

When you need to convince someone of something…

So how do you convince someone to do something, to change their opinion or behaviour or simply make them quit wearing that bright orange tuxedo to your board meetings? Let’s first consider what motivates people and drives their decision making.

You may believe in the power of logical reasoning and why not? After all, giving people all the facts and reasons for why they should do what you’re asking them to do is… well, logical. But then, have you ever wondered why people give you blank stares when you talk excitedly about the ins and outs of your fabulous solution? Or when you take them through an impressive set of data, facts and figures to back up your latest research?

The truth is that peoples’ decision making is largely unconscious. People make up their mind based on their subconscious mind and only then rationalise their decisions. Why? Because that’s how we’re all wired…

The human mind is a funny thing

Let’s talk about the super machine that we all possess and that resides inside our scull, our brain. I don’t pretend to be a neuroscientist of any kind, but I know enough to understand what triggers people. And that’s what we need to know if our persuasion efforts are to come to fruition.

There are three parts to our brain. For our purposes, let’s call them our three brains:

The reptilian brain, that’s the oldest of the three. It controls our body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Its prime concern is our survival and our reproduction. The reptilian brain neither feels nor thinks – it simply reacts. When we’re under threat for instance, it mobilizes the body – that’s our fight-flight-freeze response to stress.

The emotional (limbic) brain is the ‘feeling’ part of the brain. It records memories of behaviours that produced agreeable and disagreeable experiences; it connects these experiences with emotions, associating feelings to specific people, things or events. The emotional brain is the seat of the value judgments that we make, often unconsciously, that exert such a strong influence on our behaviour.

The neocortex is the most ‘recent’ addition to our brain. It’s our two hemispheres. The left hemisphere, our left brain, which operates around language. It’s more analytical, and orderly than the right brain. It’s better at things like reading, writing, and computations. It’s connected to logic, sequencing, linear thinking, mathematics, facts and thinking in words. It’s the part of the brain that makes decisions in a rational way. Then, there’s the right hemisphere – our right brain – which is more visual, intuitive and creative – thinking in a more symbolic manner. It has a more creative and less organized way of thinking. It’s connected to imagination, holistic thinking, intuition, arts, rhythm, nonverbal cues, feelings visualization, daydreaming.

So what?

This is good to know. Because when you’re talking to someone trying to convince them of the brilliance of your idea, you’re essentially talking to the person’s three brains. The decision that the person will make about you, your idea or your solution is largely based on what ‘feels’ good to them rather than what the most logical thing to do is. Rational argumentation has its value, no doubt (the neocortex will applaud you with excitement!) but unless you tap into the depth of the person’s subconscious, appealing to the other parts of the brain, your persuasion efforts may come in vain.

Here’s eight ways to leverage the power of the subconscious and increase your chances to get people to say yes!

1. Appeal to peoples’needs and hidden emotional desires: People don’t care so much about you or your idea (nothing personal), they care about how your idea can make their life better; how it can alleviate their pains or give them something that they need, want or secretly desire. Appeal to their emotions, because logic alone won’t do it. Don’t make it about you or your idea, make it about them!

2. Paint a positive picture of the future: Talk about how their decision will lead to a positive outcome, to a bright new future. Make them see themselves in the future and feel what they’ll feel once they get there.

3. Calm down their emotional & reptile brains: Careful with what you say and how you say it (and how you look when you say it)! Because you don’t want to trigger the ‘reptile’ response. If people perceive you (or your idea) as a threat, you can forget about getting their buy-in. Instead you’ll get either a defensive reaction (FIGHT), or a polite smile and sudden change of topics (FLIGHT), or no reaction at all (FREEZE).

4. Make them feel safe: Propose a concrete solution, a clear path to follow. This makes people feel more secure about the new direction in which they’re heading. People also respond well when they believe an idea was theirs in the first place. Let them know it was them that gave you the idea.

5. Link your idea to the person’s deeper values and beliefs. If they think it fits with the kind of person they are or they want to become they’re more likely to go along with it.

6. Show enthusiasm and passion. Because they are contagious. Let your passion for your idea shine through and people will feel as excited about it as you are!

7. Show them that ‘you can’ and that ‘you care’: To say yes, people need to perceive you as someone who cares, is competent and trustworthy. Read my article ‘Your Body = Your Story’ to learn more about managing the signals you transmit by your presence.

8. Align your body & voice & words: You always want to make sure that your body language and voice tone match the words that you say. Subconsciously, people will pick up any incoherencies and will perceive uncertainty and lack of conviction from you. And the result? They won’t buy.

Next time you’re about to embark on a rally to persuade others, put these simple tips to the test. If you do it well, your success is (almost) guaranteed. It would be a great shame if you and your brilliant ideas didn’t get the chance they deserve just because you hate sales….

Best of success!

By ALENA HUBEROVA
Presentation coach, speaker and communications trainer

www.alenahuberova.com
alena@alenahuberova.com


ABOUT ALENA HUBEROVA

Alena assists business leaders all over Europe in developing a powerful personal presence on and off- stage, and delivering presentations that get people’s buy-in and inspire action. She also acts as a mentor for startups helping them design and deliver winning business pitches.

She has a professional background in sales, marketing and communication in a variety of sectors including IT, travel and tourism, wellness and beauty. She lived and worked in 5 different countries in Europe and Asia.

In collaboration with Presenation.com, she coached the X.GLU Czech Team to win the world title at the Microsoft Imagine Cup in 2017. Alena’s other achievements include being a speaker at the TEDx UNYP 2017 conference and winning the second place in the 2017 Czech National Championship of Public Speaking.

Ondřej Mynář

 

“NAFIGATE will become a world-renowned cosmetics brand”

 

Ondřej Mynář, CEO, Nafigate Cosmetics

In October 2018, the Czech company Nafigate Cosmetics launched a new cosmetic product that does not use microplastics. This product has secured world primacy for Czechs in access to cosmetics. The new peeling shower milk with the natural polymer P3HB is based on a unique development by Czech scientists. There is a picture of a sea turtle on the product packaging, reminding the consumer of the serious problem of microplastics in water. As we deal with innovations in business regularly in Czech Leaders, I happily accepted the invitation to lunch from Ondřej Mynář, CEO of Nafigate Cosmetics. A work lunch has never passed so quickly. I admired how young and successful Ondřej is, while remaining modest and humble in spite of his success. He started as a summer worker in the company, slowly working his way up to the CEO chair and fully taking over the management from his mother, Lenka Mynářová. Ondřej Mynář faces the future with optimism. He has travelled nearly the whole world, but decided to continue doing business in the Czech Republic. He speaks of Czech scientists with enthusiasm, as he does of his dreams. Personally, I am glad that this special issue dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia can feature him, a representative of the new young generation of leaders who are picking up the industrial tradition of the First Republic while having global experience and ambitions.

Ondřej, what was the path from academic research into nanofibres to a cosmetic product that is unique in the world?

The research started in Nafigate Corporation and focused on development of nanofibre applications for water and air filtering and on the application of nanofibres in biotechnologies. As part of its activities, Nafigate Corporation worked on developing nanofibres designed for skin use. Examining the transfer of active substances using nanofibres was one part of the medical research that appeared very promising. It showed that nanofibres can in fact actively bind pus from acne, for example. Eventually, a team of about 15 scientists decided to make a bold innovative leap: shift the research into cosmetics. Medical research is both money- and time-consuming in terms of approval and regulatory procedures, and it takes decades; we have to be able to respond within weeks. And it was based on this nanofibre research for cosmetics that Nafigate Cosmetics was established in 2015.

The story of Nafigate Corporation and Nafigate Cosmetics can be used as an example of combining primary and applied research. At the start, however, your key product failed rather than succeeded, which goes to confirm the well-known fact that initial failure is common in start-ups and means nothing.

Research into nanofibres and their effectiveness was indeed the foundation for Nafigate Cosmetics. Nafigate Cosmetics started as a spin-off project with the product AcneInvisible. Building a company on a single product was in itself not the best idea. AcneInvisible didn’t do well as a product. It cost us a lot of money and energy, but on the other hand we learnt a lot from it. We removed the product as such from the market after a year and a half, because it fell short of our high expectations. During the product modifications, however, we confirmed the effectiveness of nanofibres in cosmetics, customers began asking for more products, and eventually they demanded a whole product range. So we gradually developed Nano-Eye Lift, used for immediate wrinkle reduction.
A study verified by the National Institute of Public Health proves a reduction in wrinkles of up to 75% after a 30-minute application. At the same time, the nanofibres open up pores, enabling penetration of more active substances into the skin. Gradually, we’ve marketed creams, serums and other products, as is common with other cosmetics companies. The total number of our products has grown to 36 in three years. We have not only thousands of customers but also more than 350 partner parlours, where customers can test out our entire product range. We thus offer not only products focused on wrinkle reduction and hydration, but also a cream with active substances containing hyaluronic acid. We continue to market not only new products in the form of cosmetics but also technological innovations that make our products unique.

Your career story somehow reminds me of the American dream. You joined Nafigate Corporation as a summer worker and then you worked your way up to marketing manager and marketing director. At Nafigate Cosmetics, you’re the company co- owner, chairman of the board of directors and you manage the whole company.

Yes, I started by preparing documents and presentations. Communication in Nafigate Corporation ran at a scientific level, proceeded at professional trade fairs and focused on development. After establishing the cosmetics company, I was the only one with the basics of communication marketing, and I was able to communicate over social media and adjust communication to the end customer. Suddenly I started dealing with very different issues relating to legislation and base products. After three years, I can say in all conscience that we have everything working smoothly and the team’s well on its way! We employ 15 people and our turnover target for this year is over 8 million.

Let’s now look at your brand new product, which you launched in October and is unique in the world of cosmetics.

It’s a shower gel based on a biopolymer that’s never been used in cosmetics so far. This means our product doesn’t contain microplastics, which are microparticles that enter water and severely contribute to upsetting of the ecosystem, because microplastics take centuries to break down in the environment. The Hydal technology again originates from Nafigate Corporation. By the way, the Hydal technology won first place in this year’s competition Innovations for Sustainable Development. It’s a new technology, the only one in the world that can process industrially and reuse spent deep-frying oil and turn it into a brand new, high-value raw material, a PHB-type biopolymer. It’s used either as a raw material for bioplastic production, or as a naturally decomposing microplastic. Nafigate Cosmetics has been successful in grasping the ideas of excellent Czech scientists and linking them to the end market. I’m glad to bring to the market innovations coming from Czech scientists, who can do world-class science at a fraction of the cost. That said, the transfer of innovations from laboratories to the end market is very complicated.

It looks like you’ve found the Holy Grail of linking primary and applied research. Even big corporations have a hard time finding an answer to that. For you, it’s the customer who’s at the fore, not science as such.

There’s an underlying united effort of all those involved. We all strive for the best product for the customer. We face numerous challenges, legislation being the first one. If you’re a pioneer in something, for example in using biopolymers in cosmetics, you have to design special testing, because no-one’s ever done this procedure before you. The readiness of the whole team for action is shown when the first non-standard procedure comes. I’m really proud of the composition of the teams in both companies, Nafigate Corporation and Nafigate Cosmetics. Nafigate Corporation pays great attention to talent management; resolving the problem of not using microparticles involved an array of absolutely brilliant postgraduates, supported by more experienced corporate employees. The other team, at Nafigate Cosmetics, then literally dived into resolving the legislative issues connected with marketing the product. The point is that the customer demands all the standard properties in a product; innovation is secondary only to that. To give an example: when you use a shower gel, you have to get a pleasant feeling from using it, a gentle touch, foaming ability, and so on; the innovation really comes second in this case. The product’s properties have to be identical, to which we add a second value, namely an environmental approach, since the product is fully degradable in water. We have one stage in the product development cycle that not many companies have. None of our products will reach the market until we have favourable comments from customers. We use a network of cosmetics parlours for this, in which we regularly test our products. We pay great attention to feedback from our customers, and adjust our formulations based on it. Frequently we do this repeatedly. On the other hand, we’re very fast and capable of responding within weeks or several months. Sometimes we don’t market the product at all, because we know we wouldn’t be able to keep our promises and corporate values. We make our products without parabens, and if we use perfumes, then only natural ones.

Another frequently debated issue is successorship. You took over from your mother, but originally she wanted you to do sociological research. What’s it like working with your mum?

You know, sometimes it’s hard to have your mum at work. On the other hand, I realise many of my achievements are only thanks to her. She allowed me to travel, organise trade fairs in China, and try dealing with important business partners. As for business, each of us is different. I’d describe my mother as an energy hurricane. She handed the company over to me completely, as I don’t think having multiple leaders is viable. I was well prepared for successorship; I’d worked hard for it. All the employees knew me, as I’d hired some of them myself. The fact that I’d helped build the company and had an expert understanding of the issues helped me a lot. I often see cases where someone from the outside arrives to manage a company. Personally I don’t think it’s appropriate; you have to know the company from the inside. It’s also easier to gain people’s confidence if they’ve known you as a hard-working person with a vision for moving the company forward.

What is your vision?

To build a world-renowned cosmetics brand based on technological innovations. To use the magnificent potential of Czech scientists in the Czech Republic, which is a great country for doing business. I’ve travelled all over the Czech Republic. At present, we have facilities or collaborating institutions in Ostrava, Hradec Králové, Liberec and Prague. What we are lacking is better PR, and I’m glad to be able to contribute with my vision for a company that has the potential to change the world.

By Linda Štucbartová

 

(This interview is a loose continuation of the series on innovations. We recommend the previous interviews about nanotechnologies with Jiří Kůs and about circular economy with Soňa Jonášová. The interviews are available on- line at www.czechleaders.cz/interviews)

Alena Schillerová

 

“I welcome any substantive discussion”

 

Alena Schillerová, Minister of Finance of the Czech Republic

How and with what feelings did you celebrate the 28 October 1918 anniversary?

The hundredth anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s founding which we celebrated this year inspired me to remember those who helped the newly emerging state to attain its place in the heart of Europe. Our predecessors weren’t just involved in the formation of our independent state, but also helped ensure that Czechoslovakia was recognized as an island of democracy within Central Europe. Although we certainly shouldn’t disregard the darker periods of our history either, because as Winston Churchill once said: “A nation that forgets its past has no future.”

This interview is for readers of Leaders magazine. How do you perceive leadership, what kind of leader are you, and do we have enough leaders today?

I think good leaders are drivers who believe in themselves, in their people and in what they’re doing. They can choose the right people and give them the space to show what they have within themselves. They can motivate their team and give it positive energy and inspiration. I have tried to adhere to these principles the whole of my career. And even in my professional life, I’ve had the opportunity to encounter loads of people who exactly meet these characteristics.

Forbes magazine has described you as the third most influential woman in the Czech Republic. Congratulations on behalf of the Czech and Slovak Leaders editorial board. How do you perceive this award?

It’s a great honour for me, and also proof that our work at the Finance Ministry is noticed and appreciated. At the same time, I consider the award a great commitment, and I take it with the same humility that my colleagues and I feel in working for the citizens of this country. We still see many things here we want to improve.

You are the first female Finance Minister. How do you perceive the debate about equal representation for women in top positions in the Czech Republic? Can you say what the new perspective you have brought to this role is?

Being a woman in charge of a department might seem like an advantage, because as women we have a somewhat different method of communication than men. But I’ve never tried to deliberately exploit this. Over my whole life, I’ve endeavoured to ensure that it is my abilities and my work which speak for me. I hold the position that if you do your work well, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman.

Let me yet avail of your expert perspective – how do you see the gender pay gap problem, which is the second highest within the EU here in the Czech Republic?

According to Eurostat, on average women here earn 22 % less than men, which seems really appalling. There are many reasons for this difference. It is almost exclusively women here who take parental leave, putting their career on hold for a number of years during which time men reach higher positions. These differences are less clear in the over-55 age category however. Also, more women work in education and health, fields where people earn less in general than in fields where more men work – e.g., in construction. But I certainly don’t want to downplay the problem. On the contrary. By law, employers must follow an equal treatment principle in rewarding their employees, but unfortunately this principle is still quite often breached. Women’s lower earnings are reflected in the size of their pensions – women receive pensions of around a fifth less than men and, as such, are more frequently at risk of poverty.

As Finance Minister, you are mainly linked to the introduction of electronic sales records. The Finance Minister isn’t exactly popular right now, nor is the electronic sales records concept. What is it like in general to enforce unpopular measures?

I don’t think electronic sales records are unpopular. On the contrary, sociological research suggests it is consistently supported by around two-thirds of Czechs. But of course, I regularly meet many people with different opinions to me on many matters. And that’s okay. I relish my work, and thus I welcome any substantive discussion and I don’t object to reasonable suggestions. From time to time I also encounter criticism which I consider unfair and full of misrepresentations, but I certainly won’t let it frustrate me. That’s why I also think my mission is about clearly and matter-of-factly explaining the what, why and how of what we’re doing.

I know you’ve given lectures in the past. Do you still find time for them?

I currently lecture at various specialist seminars or at meetings with entrepreneurs. In the past I was an external lecturer at the Faculty of Law’s Department of Financial Law and Economics at Masaryk University in Brno, but now my busy schedule means I just don’t have the time. But I’m always happy to return to academia, and I will certainly be happy if the opportunity again arises in future to lecture to students.

As a member of the Brno University of Technology’s Scientific Board, I’d like to ask you how you’re managing to link science and the practical world.

As Finance Minister, I think it is important we are able to give more money to this field. In the draft state budget for next year, we have boosted expenditure on higher education by 2 billion crowns, and education overall has also seen significant improvement – by 29.6 billion crowns. Besides that, we are also increasing expenditure on science and research by 1.5 billion crowns to a total of 36 billion crowns. And as a former member of the Faculty of Business and Management Scientific Board at the Brno University of Technology, I can confirm that when I held that position it was very common for students to acquire practical knowledge during their master’s studies. The faculty’s doctoral studies and science and research activities have continued to develop, and I believe that co-operation with the practical world and the business sector is today expanding. I trust that other economic and technical faculties are doing similarly well.

What would your advice be if you were mentoring yourself twenty years ago?

To be honest, I wouldn’t give my younger self any specific advice. I’ve made progress in small steps over my career, and I truly appreciate what I have finally managed to achieve. Now I’m Finance Minister, and that didn’t just come out of thin air. It’s the outcome of the decisions I made at crucial forks in my previous life. And it’s also because I’ve managed to overcome various challenges. Building a career is a life-long path during which one acquires the necessary experience and learns from one’s mistakes. Looking back, there’s nothing I would change.

By Linda Štucbartová

Michal Lukeš

 

“We Tell Stories”

 

Michal Lukeš, Director of the National Museum in Prague

At the age of 26, Michal Lukeš was the youngest director of a national cultural institution in Europe, and after over 15 years in the position he is one of the longest-serving museum directors. Under his management, the National Museum has repaired most of its dilapidated buildings, such as the National Monument at Vítkov, the Czech Museum of Music and the Ethnographic Museum. He pushed through the renovation of the National Museum building on Wenceslas Square and secured funding for it, and acquired the former Federal Assembly building for the National Museum. He has managed to repair the National Museum building in an incredibly short time – just 42 months – and open it for celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia on 28 October 2018.

What feelings did you have as an individual – as a husband, as a father to two daughters – when celebrating the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia, coincidentally also the first day of standard operations after the official re-opening of the National Museum?

I did not have much time to celebrate for myself during the 100th anniversary celebrations since I had a lot of work and official duties. My wife and daughters symbolically baked me some gingerbread with icing in the colours of our national flag. I try to educate my children about history, and ever since they were small I have brought them up in a traditional spirit and with love for our country. My feelings on 28 October were celebratory, and I’m glad our celebrations went well and people commemorated the 100th anniversary of our Republic spontaneously and on their own initiatives. I’m glad we have the good fortune to live in a prosperous, safe and, above all, democratic republic.

Do you remember the first time you visited the National Museum? How do you attract your youngest generation of visitors? What about the oldest? And what would you suggest foreigners visit?

Probably like everyone else I remember the whale skeleton and loads of animals. We attract the youngest generation with a whole range of special programmes for schools and families, and all our exhibitions have kids’ and educational features. We try to make the museum intelligible and fun for them. We attract adults through unique experiences and exhibits which they won’t find anywhere else. I’d invite everyone to visit our New Building to see our Celts exhibition, or our fascinating Noah’s Ark zoological exhibition. In our Historical Building, besides our renovated interiors you can admire the 200 rarest exhibits of our museum at our 2x100exhibition.Buttherearealsofascinating exhibitions at the Czech Museum of Music and the Náprstek Museum. Anyone who wants to learn more about modern Czech history should visit the National Monument at Vítkov, where they can combine a museum visit with admiring a fantastic view over Prague from the roof of the monument.

You’re well known for often using your sense of humour in your role. Were there any times during the renovation when you lost your sense of humour?

I haven’t yet lost my sense of humour, not even during the renovation, and even in the most serious of moments I have always tried to encourage colleagues with humour. Although I am a fan of black humour, so I don’t know whether I’ve always succeeded 🙂

You ́ve had the honour of being first in two areas – at the age of 26 you were the youngest director of a large national cultural institution in Europe, and now after over 15 years in your position you are one of the longest-serving museum directors. In terms of leadership, what stage is the most difficult?

I can’t say what stage was most difficult. When I took on the role at a very young age, I had the task of shaking up and modernising a somewhat dusty institution. And we did a pretty good job. We managed to push on with loads of innovative projects and investments, both in museum infrastructure and buildings. The museum is growing dynamically, but running these projects requires a lot more management work and responsibilities. Each stage of my leadership here has had its pros and cons, but together I think they form one of the most coherent and positive stages in the history of the institution.

What museums in Europe / in the world do you like visiting? What museums could be a model for the National Museum?

We visit, find inspiration in, and above all co- operate with, a wide range of worldwide institutions such as the British Museum, the Natural History museums in New York and London, the Smithsonian Institute in the USA, the National Museum of Scotland, and also museums in smaller countries such as the Estonian National Museum. Polish museums are very inspiring, such as the Warsaw Rising Museum. Naturally, our closest partner museum is the Slovak National Museum. But it’s not about which specific museums can be a model for us; we endeavour to find inspiration from the best of them, while also learning from errors others have made.

I had the opportunity to visit the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem in October, and this is at the absolute cutting edge in terms of using modern technologies, appealing to visitors, working with stories, emotions and literally drawing visitors into the story. On the other hand the museum has no real exhibits or collections. Probably little will remain of our generation except in the digital world. How do you see the future of museums and collections?

The job of a museum is to look after the cultural heritage of our ancestors, document our era and preserve as objective an image of it as possible for the future. Museums’ collections and original objects will always remain at the core of their purpose. Naturally, in today’s modern era we store a lot more digital information besides objects. In our exhibitions, we don’t just showcase individual objects, but rather aim to tell stories. Our exhibitions also include multimedia technologies, both to expand the information they provide, and for fun and to interest visitors. Methods of presentation have changed, but the meaning of museums has remained the same for centuries, and I think it will continue to do so.

I’d also like to ask about the much-debated Pantheon of leading Czech figures. I feel a lack of women there. Which women would you like to see there?

You’re right; there aren’t many women in the Pantheon. But the Pantheon represents the intellectual and social legacy of the 19th century. It’s not about which women I would like to see there. The Pantheon is essentially a kind of museum document showing how our ancestors saw the world.

What future career/personal challenges have you got in store?

I definitely want to build a complete new National Museum exhibition. We’ve managed to repair the beautiful Historical Building, and open a number of exhibitions within it, but it is the museum’s permanent exhibitions which give it its spirit. That is currently my greatest challenge.

By Linda Štucbartová

Japan: Destination of the Year

The Land of the Rising Sun is the world’s fastest-growing travel destination, and it’s not hard to see why. It has the electric energy of Tokyo and the enduring beauty of Kyoto. The country’s ancient customs continue to fascinate, and its chefs approach their trade with a precision and creative spirit that yields unforgettable culinary experiences. Its landscape, from magisterial mountain ranges to an enchanting inland sea, rivals any in the world. Its museums are meccas for art lovers, and its architects are imagining the future of design in daring ways. Best of all, from historic urban shrines to forest trails to understated hotels, Japan offers a sense of serenity that is harder than ever to find today. For more reasons to plan your next trip there, browse below.

Ambassador King Presents Centennial Awards to Three Exceptional Czech Citizens

The U.S. Embassy announced the winners of its Centennial Awards during a special Centennial celebration held in the Ambassador’s residence. The three Centennial Awards honor Czech citizens who have made significant contributions to the U.S.-Czech relationship in the areas of enhancing security, promoting collaboration in the cultural and educational spheres, and advancing our commercial and economic ties.

Nominations for Centennial Awards came from U.S. Embassy contacts, staff, and the general public beginning in the summer. Dozens of nominations were carefully reviewed by a diverse selection committee. Ambassador Stephen King selected the winners from a list of three finalists in each award category, recommended by the selection committee. The Centennial Award itself is a beautifully engraved crystal 3D image of the U.S. Embassy’s Glorietta, which has stood as an enduring symbol of hope, freedom and democracy.

The first Centennial Award for enhancing security was presented to former Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg, who has worked tirelessly to strengthen ties between the Czech Republic and the United States for multiple decades. He has dedicated his life to fully ground Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic into the architecture of Western security and economic organizations.

The second Centennial Award for collaboration in culture and education spheres was given to historian and university professor Milada Polisenska, who has made a life-long contribution to Czech-American relations through culture, education, and research. Her book on the history of diplomatic relations between Czechoslovakia and the United States and her research articles place her among the Czech Republic’s finest scholars.

The third Centennial Award for advancing commercial and economic ties was presented to Vaclav Muchna, the founder and CEO of the Y Soft company. Mr. Muchna is a successful Czech businessman and entrepreneur, and a pioneer Czech investor in the United States who is working to nurture other investors in growing their companies in America.

By U.S. Embassy Prague

BLOSSOMS 2018

To celebrate and commemorate 100 years of Czechoslovakia 26 leading artists and designers were proud to present the biggest exhibition of unique porcelain originals. The exhibition was complemented with paintings, drawings, sculptures and graphics.

More than 200 originals were presented at the Gallery Topičův Salon, Národní 9, Prague 1.

Mexican Embassy held number of events to celebrate Day of the Dead

The extensive celebrations of “Day of the Dead”, which took place on Saturday 3 November at the Náprstek Museum, attracted thousands of visitors who enjoyed the authentic Mexican atmosphere. It was undoubtedly the altar to the dead which attracted the greatest attention, a tradition which is the fruit of the coming together of the pre-Hispanic and Catholic traditions of celebrating the dead. The event also included an extensive programme with a number of creative workshops such as decorating sugar skulls, face-painting, eggshell painting and other activities organised by the Colectivo Mexicano del Día de Muertos society.

Visitors were also able to view a talk on Mexico’s Day of the Dead given by Czech academic Petra Ponocná, and screenings of documentaries on the tradition. Also available were typical Mexican delicacies such as tamales, tortas, tacos and atole. The event culminated in a screening of the film “Coco” (Lee Unkrich, 2017). Traditional Mexican music band, Mariachi Azteca de Praga and singer Naomi Villegas ensured a fantastic atmosphere, rounding off the music programme with a fabulous procession through Bethlehem Square in the centre of Prague.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK Returns to the Czech Republic

Between Monday, November 12th and Sunday, November 18th, approximately 10 million people from 170 countries celebrated the importance of business through the Global Entrepreneurship Week, and the Czech Republic was part of this global event. The European Leadership and Academic Institute (ELAI) has organized the Entrepreneurship Week CR for the 6th time.

The main event was scheduled for the first day. After a brief introductory speech by the US Ambassador Stephen B. King, leading Czech experts participated in a discussion on the topic of the circular economy at the Prague networking center Opero.

A number of accompanying events took place throughout the entire week, all over the Czech Republic. On top of that, a discussion titled 100 Years of Free Czech Entrepreneurship, Ingenuity and Inventions was held by successors of famous Czech inventors as well as current top innovators.

President Miloš Zeman representing the Czech Republic

President Miloš Zeman on the Occasion of the Czech National Day on the 28th of October.

100 Years of the Republic

President Miloš Zeman awards state honors on Czechoslovakia Independence Day

Opening of the Historical Building of the National Museum

One of the most important buildings in Prague has been listed as part of its national heritage since 1962. Loved by Czech nationals, admired by foreign visitors, and deeply linked to modern Czech history, the building became considered over time as part of the National Museum Institution itself.

The historical building underwent a major reconstruction and was re-opened on 28 October 2018 – the day of the 100th anniversary of the Czechoslovak Republic.

Transportation 2018+

“… ANOTHER 100 YEARS IN MOTION”

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia Comenius has organized very successful conference with transportation as the main topic. Transportation 2018+ “… another 100 years in motion” has taken place in TOP HOTEL Prague on October 11th, 2018.

4 panel discussions, each with 5 panelists have covered all means of transportation such as air, water, roads and railway and focused on visions and future development.

More than 100 participants, including politicians, ambassadors, journalists and transportation business people and professionals have participated and actively discussed all topics.

Introductory speech was given by the Speaker of the House of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Mr. Radek Vondráček.

Pierre Gattaz

 

“Europe is not an option but an absolute necessity”

 

Photo by © Christophe Guibbaud

Mr. Gattaz, you were elected the president of BusinessEurope at a time when the EU is facing a lot of challenges. What are your main priorities for the mandate?

As entrepreneurs, we know that Europe is not an option but an absolute necessity. I believe we are at a turning point for Europe’s future and its place in the world. It is an honour, but also an immense responsibility to take the leadership of BusinessEurope and speak on behalf of the European business community in these challenging times. One of the key priorities I want to tackle during my presidency is to ensure that the European Union can play its full role in this changing world. My main task will be to make sure that the unprecedented uncertainties we are facing lead to a new global order rather than global disorder. In a world undergoing profound changes, companies are a crucial factor of adaptation while ensuring stability. They bring 80% of the solutions to the problems that people are facing. Companies are also a link between countries and a tensions absorber because doing trade allows to understand each other better and to find common solutions.

The whole EU and especially businesses are watching carefully the Brexit negotiations. According to recent analyses, the Czech Republic would be the 5th most negatively impacted country in the EU by Brexit. What is the outcome of the negotiations that the business community hopes for?

First, we have to tell that, from a business point of view, Brexit is bad news, for the United Kingdom and for all the EU members. But we have to manage it in the most rational way possible. Our first priority is to avoid a “cliff-edge” with the UK leaving the EU in March 2019 without a deal. This would create major disruptions for business in the EU and the UK. To have a smooth UK’s exit, we need to get the withdrawal agreement done in time for ratification by parliaments in the EU and the UK. This agreement includes a transition period that lasts until December 2020 with the UK staying in the customs union and the Single Market. This will allow time for companies to adjust and prepare for the new situation of the UK as a third country. Companies have to plan ahead and need certainty and a level playing field to mitigate the impact of Brexit on trade and investment. In the medium term we want to maintain as close as possible economic relation with the UK without jeopardising the integrity of the Single Market. Choices will have to be made, particularly in the UK between regulatory independence and maintaining comprehensive access to the EU market. A free trade agreement cannot provide the same level of frictionless trade as a customs union, nor a similar level of regulatory alignment as staying in the Single Market.

Recently the EU-US relationship has taken a very different path than expected couple of years ago and instead of concluding TTIP, the US decided to implement protectionist measures. What should be the response of the EU according to businesses?

The EU is trying to maintain a positive trade agenda with the US despite the very disruptive trade policy pursued by the Trump administration. We are cooperating on the reform of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and how to address overcapacity, subsidies and other market distortive practices. We are also negotiating bilaterally following a joint declaration signed in July by Presidents Juncker and Trump. These bilateral negotiations cover fields that are important for European business and were already discussed during the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, in particular regulatory cooperation. Non-tariff barriers are still hampering trade between the EU and the US in a number of industrial sectors, like automotive, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, engineering, medical devices, textiles. If we manage to address some of these barriers reducing costs for companies on both sides of the Atlantic, it would be a major achievement. The possibility of a tariff agreement on industrial goods is also on the table. To be meaningful and compatible with the WTO, the agreement needs to cover all industrial goods including cars. We hope this positive agenda will avoid other unilateral measures from the US, in particular the imposition of additional duties on our car exports. However, if this is not the case the EU will have to respond in a balanced and rational way.

The energy transition in the EU is mainly driven by the need to tackle climate change. Are businesses ready for the kind of transition which is promoted by the EU institutions and the uptake of low carbon technologies?

The energy transition is indeed very much driven by the need to combat climate change. We have witnessed evolutions in positions within the business community, reflecting new market realities, technological developments and also public perception. European industry at large has clearly embraced the need to transition to low-carbon economy. BusinessEurope and our members strongly support the EU ambition on climate action and the implementation of the Paris Agreement. We expect nothing less from our international trading partners in terms of ambition. As it was clearly stated in the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) we all need to be equally ambitious to reach this objective. The EU has a solid set of policies in place to reach its ambitious targets and EU business stands ready to provide the solutions, as it has always done. Now we are working with our members on an energy and climate vision in view of the European elections. We intend to provide the newly- elected decision-makers with solutions to make the energy transition in the EU a success for companies and society at large.

The Czech Republic has the lowest unemployment rate, the economy is performing well, yet the Czechs remain to be among the biggest Eurosceptics in the whole EU. What do you think needs to be done to change the Eurosceptic tendencies and the mindset in the EU as such?

It is indeed a paradox to have such Euroscepticism in a country that benefitted so much economically from its integration in the European Union. This shows that this Euroscepticism is the expression of different fears. In some countries it is the fear of poverty or unemployment. In other countries, it is a fear of losing the national identity. These fears are then exploited by populists who propose simplistic solutions that do not work, things that cannot be delivered and use the EU as a scapegoat to explain their failure. The business community has a strong responsibility to speak up, and say very clearly that the EU is the solution and not the problem. We need to repair the damage of years of blame- game concerning the EU. Also, the national government must demonstrate the capacity to act when an issue is truly European by agreeing on common solutions. For example, we need to move away from ad hoc crisis management and build a coordinated European solution to better manage migration. The other obvious example is trade policy. European countries are stronger together than when acting alone in today’s world. We must remain united to achieve political, economic and social progress and maintain the European way of life.

The EU Parliamentary elections are rapidly approaching. What will be the main messages of BusinessEurope to future Members of the European Parliament?

The European elections 2019 will be crucial for Europe. Citizens will vote for new Members of the European Parliament, then a new European Commission will be appointed for the next five years. We will call on entrepreneurs and citizens to go and vote because these elections will be shaping the European landscape for the next years. And to the future members of the European Parliament, we will say that there is an urgent need to put our European house in order. In a world where geopolitical hardball is played and with geo-economic competition, the EU must invest more in its own capacities and help its companies to face tomorrow’s challenges. We need business competitiveness, simplification and skills to be at the heart of the European strategy.

BusinessEurope is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. What is the vision of European businesses for the years to come?

We want to see Europe where companies can fully play their role in society. And for that we need a European Union that is strong and independent globally. A European Union that is a global leader in innovation and digitalisation. An energy efficient European Union, which reconciles security of supply, affordability and sustainability. A European Union with a functioning Single Market and Economic and Monetary Union. An inclusive European Union, where prosperity is shared across society. I have no doubt that our businesses can drive innovation, digitalisation, the circular economy and sustainability. We have key players in robotics, automotive and other manufacturing activities. We are at the forefront in technological solutions to tackle climate change. If we join forces and are supported by a business-friendly environment, we will be able to deliver the economic and social progress that EU citizens experienced in the last six decades.

By Tomáš Hartman

 


Pierre Gattaz became President of BusinessEurope on 5 July 2018. Until then, he held the Presidency of BusinessEurope’s French member federation MEDEF.

A graduate of Telecom Bretagne (l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications de Bretagne) and holder of a Certificate in Administrative Management from the George Washington University (USA), he was a project engineer and export project manager at Dassault Electronics from 1984 to 1989.

From 1989 to 1992, he was Managing Director at Fontaine Electronics, then Convergie (a subsidiary of the Dynaction Group). Pierre Gattaz became Managing Director at Radiall in December 1992 and has been the Chairman of the Board since January 1994.

He was President of GIXEL (Professional Association for Electronic Components Systems, Digital Identity Industries) from 1999 to 2003, and then President and founder of the FIEN (Digital and Electronic Industries) from 2002 to 2007, before being elected President of the FIEEC (Federation of Electrical, Electronic and Communication Industries – 30 industrial unions) in 2007, when he also joined the Executive Committee of MEDEF (Movement of French Enterprises). From June 2010 to July 2013, he was also President of the GFI (Group of Industrial Federations – 17 industrial federations representing 80% of French industry) and a founding member of La Fabrique (the Industry’s Think Tank).

Pierre Gattaz is Knight of the French Legion of Honour and Officer of the Order of Merit.

BusinessEurope, founded in 1958 in Brussels, is the leading advocate for growth and competitiveness at European level, standing up for companies across the continent and campaigning on the issues that most influence their performance. We speak for all-sized enterprises in 34 European countries whose national business federations are our direct members.

I, the Brand – From Personal Branding to Personal Leadership

Cristina Muntean is a consultant, trainer, mentor and coach who specializes in personal branding, strategic communications, emotional and systemic intelligence for leadership. A former journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the Czech, Romanian and international media, she founded Media Education CEE, a PR advisory and training agency in Prague in May 2010. Her clients are executive level managers and entrepreneurs with Top100 companies in the Czech Republic and Central and Eastern Europe. Cristina is also an internationally certified trainer and coach with the Enneagram, a complex system of personal development, and a facilitator of systemic dynamics in business organizations. She provides her services in English, Czech, French and Romanian, her mother tongue. Cristina can be reached at +420 776 574 925 or at cm@cristinamuntean.com.

This year the Czech Republic celebrated 100 years of its existence. As such, it was a time to remember the great deeds – and names – of the past. Numerous people I’ve been talking to agree that today Czechs should be very proud of their achievements, much more visible and more present on the local and world scene. Why therefore, for a country with a solid history and many a reason to be proud, there is something holding the Czechs back when it comes to showing up and taking their rightful place in the world?

Tough decisions

I dare asking this question because I am confronted with it daily in my personal branding training and coaching practice. That’s why a recent story of one of my clients stuck with me. This gentleman – let’s call him Mirek – built his IT company from scratch starting in the early ‘90s. The company, obviously, carried his name. A few years ago, Mirek decided to expand the company through acquisitions of smaller, complementary IT businesses. Yet he hit a roadblock. For some reasons discussions weren’t moving forward and it was quite hard to put his finger on the real reason why negotiations were stalling. Soon Mirek realized that there might be some hidden dynamics in the background that could be connected with the name of his company – actually, with his name. By moving into buying other, smaller IT companies also named after their founders, all of a sudden business became more personal. The sellers were experiencing a subtle sense of loss similar to when we step into a marriage that expects that we change who we are, including our own name. As entrepreneurs committed to building businesses as a lasting legacy, the merger was a pill too hard to swallow for many potential sellers. So, in order to secure his own legacy moving forward, Mirek set for a bold move. He listened to his advisors and decided to change the name of his company into something more generic. Miraculously, the merger bottlenecks started to disappear. Five years later Mirek’s company has expanded successfully not only in the Czech Republic, but on a few markets in Central and Southern Europe as well. As for Mirek, he learnt to accept that, in today’s world, we need to be able to play the rules of the game. “Even though I know it, it was still one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” he says.

Why we need fatherly figures

In today’s business landscape we need to accept that companies are not so much about the name of their founders or about the original intention of changing the world with a business idea anymore, but about cold, hard cash, capital and profits. Maybe that’s also why it is so hard for employees to connect with the missions of their companies. As long as these missions remain a statement on a wall, people cannot project their own journey, their dreams and ideals onto something or someone concrete. Having someone to look up to is not only a matter of personal leadership. It’s a vital ingredient in maturing as a human being. As we become more empowered, we paradoxically look for more mentors. We acknowledge that we need them and we embrace their presence. Our mentors become our personal Virgil, like the great Roman poet in Dante’s Divine Comedy, who can be there for us, in reality or in our projections, in order to help us figure out our own answers to the many challenges that today’s world is throwing our way. Our mentors can, yet they don’t have to, be fatherly or motherly figures. What we need, in fact, is the hope they bring us through the simple fact that they went through our challenges and survived. Seeing them coming out of a life challenge empowered and transformed – better human beings – brings us hope as well. That’s why mentors are so important. And that’s why we need more of them in our world today.

A Personal Branding Responsibility

Yet, for us to achieve our own potential and sense of glory, mentors are not enough. We also need to admit that each of us are in a leadership position. If we are to influence and inspire our children, our spouse, our neighbors, our team or our own managers, we can do things that can reflect more of who we are and thus trigger a positive change around us. This requires a shift in our mindset. We need to understand that we already are personal brands. From the day we were born and got a name, we were personal brands. From the first moment we interact with someone new we are already building our reputation. Developing more self-awareness around the way we impact others and the world is not easy though, as it opens the Pandora’s box of personal responsibility. But that’s exactly what we need more of today. We simply need more people who are able and willing to take personal responsibility for their lives and thus inspire more of the others to do the same. In a climate of fear and discord sown by shrewd politicians moved by personal, egocentric agendas, we need to be able to create a counter-pole of inspiration, connection and hope through our own actions.

Simple Personal Branding Steps for a Better Future

If you wonder how you can do that practically, here are a few thoughts:

1. Increase your self-reflection. Be aware – someone would say mindful – of your own appearance, body language, your voice qualities and your overall impact on others.

2. Ask for feedback. If you don’t know how your presence influences people and the world around you, just ask. Find the courage to expose yourself to others’ points of view. Remember that all feedback is an opinion, not a cold fact. Allow yourself to be seen and transformed in the light of others’ reflections of who you are.

3. Care. There is no real personal branding without empathy. How can you make a positive impact through a presentation, an article, a media interview or simply facilitating a meeting unless you genuinely care about the needs of your audience?

4. Change. Dare to experiment with new things and new approaches not only in communications. If you are not on a communications platform, join it and see what it does to you. If you are – maybe a bit too much – on a social medium, perhaps you can take a break and see how you could pour more meaning into your communications as opposed to more quantity. If you are silent around new people, change your approach. Be bold, be curious. Ask questions. Allow the tremendous transformation happening today to touch not only your communications and personal brand, but also your soul.

As you see, the bottom line of personal branding is not just some hullabaloo last-minute strategy on how to be more present on LinkedIn. It can be that, but it’s so much more. Personal branding is our capacity to consciously touch the minds, hearts and spirits of everyone around us with every physical or virtual interaction. Thus, we leave behind meaning and a lasting legacy. And that is so much more than personal branding. It is personal leadership at its best – precisely what we need more of so we can be proud of our history, but also of our future.

By Cristina Muntean

Judi Challiner

 

“The fate of Czechoslovakia on the background of personal stories 1918, 1938, 1948, 1968 and beyond”

 

Linda Štucbartová, Chief Interviewer and Judi Challiner, a teacher, a writer and a storyteller

The most powerful stories are written by life itself. In order to commemorate the 100 years of the state of Czechoslovakia coming into existence, I decided to dedicate this article not merely to important historical events but to link it to the fates of individuals. As I have not lived through much of the period, I asked Judi Challiner, my dear friend and mentor, to co- write the article. It also serves as the sequel to “My Life as Defined by Two Quotes”, published last year which received many positive reactions as well as requests for Part 2.

Linda: “We concluded our interview one year ago about you applying for Czech citizenship. Let me quickly summarize your story. Your father was a Czechoslovak citizen, and a medical doctor at the clinic of Baťa Shoe Factory in Zlín, before his escape to England in 1938. There he served as a medical doctor in the Czech Airforce and fought alongside the British. Your grandmother together with twenty-five members of your family could not escape and were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. What are the recent updates not only with regards to your request for Czech citizenship, but also your journey to discover more about your Czech roots?

Judi: On February 8, 2017 I remember walking with you, as my (friend) Power of Attorney, to the Prague 1 municipal office. That began a long and a complex journey until I was finally granted Czech Citizenship on October 17 last year! Since then, quite a few British citizens have done the same, in protest against Brexit and to remain EU citizens.

I often say that 8 is my lucky number. Look at the date of the beginning of this process! The address where I was granted Czech citizenship is the Office of Prague 1, Vodičkova 18. Also, the digits of October 17 add up to 8. This was a very happy turning point in my life! Receiving the official papers, I listened to Mrs. Stanislava Sábová, an incredibly helpful and professional Czech official, summarizing the documents of the Zlín archive about my father’s family and my grandmother’s desperate attempts to remain a Czech citizen in 1938. There was even a mention of me, as a three-year old girl, being granted permission to take the journey back to Great Britain with my English mother in spring 1948. A flood of emotions swamped me. What would my grandmother and father have thought of me re-claiming the very citizenship they were forced to renounce? Flying back to Manchester with my proud husband , I thought of my easy life compared with my grandmother and father. For them, 1938 and 1948 completely changed their identities, their belonging to their beloved Czechoslovakia. They became in the words of our Prime Minister, Theresa May ‘Citizens of Nowhere.’ The consequences for them both in those two years were brutal.

Judi: It was Madeleine Albright who said: “Years ending in 8 are of outsize importance in Czech history.” As we are celebrating the centenary of the first Czechoslovak Republic this year, what can you tell me about Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk? I remember from our conversations that thanks to your grandmother, you have many special memories.

Linda: I remember very well my grandmother Rose recalling Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the “little” father of the nation (tatíček), as he was nicknamed. My grandmother was 11 years old when Czechoslovakia declared independence and the spirit of the First Czechoslovak Republic very much determined her values and memories. The same is true for me with the Velvet Revolution. I was only 13, yet it has influenced my life profoundly. But back to my grandma Rose. She taught me about Masaryk and the First Czechoslovak Republic. She always remembered the three principles on which the First Czechoslovak Republic was built. The first one was that daily work, however small and mundane it might seem, if done continuously, can achieve great results overtime. The second part was the high ideals on which the republic was built. The third part was patriotism, not as destructive nationalism as we experience it today but as an attachment and commitment to one’s country; throughout her life my grandmother reminded me to be a proud daughter of a small country that has given so many leading personalities in all spheres to the world.

Linda: I must mention that the fact we can talk about this history without any ideology and any repercussions still means a lot to me. More than ever before, we should recognize how democracy and freedom of speech is precious and should be protected.

I remember quite vividly grandma proudly showing me Masaryk’s Encyclopedia mentioning my relatives and acknowledging them for their patriotic and economic achievements. By the way, did you know that this Encyclopedia was the second largest encyclopedic volume after Encyclopedia Britannica to be published in 1930’s? I think this illustrates the degree of development of the Czechoslovak society at that time and the values put on education, history and learning. Listening to my grandmother and her accounts was so interesting and so very different from what I learned in school. It was in the early 1980s, before the Gorbachev era, shortly after the martial law had been declared in Poland, a period of a fierce “normalization in the Soviet Bloc”. Naturally, I could not wait to share it with my classmates at school and with my civic and history class teacher. After I bragged about my family history not only to my classmates but to my teacher, who happened to be a zealous communist, my parents were summoned to school. My grandmother was forbidden to share anything with me, my true historical upbringing had to wait until the regime change in 1989.

Linda: The first Czechoslovak Republic was only allowed to prosper for 20 years. The next date to mention is 1938, the year when the so called Second Czechoslovak Republic came to existence. This year also marked the first wave of Czechoslovak immigration abroad in 20th century, which consequently led to the loss of élites, the fact that still can be felt in the Czech society one century later.

Judi: 1938 marked the end of my relatives’ existence as well–liked, respected citizens in Karlovy Vary. My father was working as a young doctor in Zlín, so he was not around when the Nazis marched into his home town and ordered my grandmother, great grandmother, aunt and her young son to get out of the family home. They tried to get registered in Semily but ended up in an over-crowded flat in Prague. My grandmother only thought of the safety of her sons and insisted they leave Czechoslovakia. As for her, she had to look after her mother who was in her 80s and thought nothing would happen to them – they were too old. How many people of a certain age thought that, only to be brutally deceived and murdered? Her life ended in the gas chambers in Auschwitz.

Linda: Your father and your uncle, serving in the Royal Air Force, survived. It took almost 60 years to build a memorial for them. How does visiting the memorial feel?

Judi: When I first came to the memorial of the Winged Lion, it did not take me long to spot the two precious names among 2,500 inscriptions on the bronze tiles listing all the Czech and English personnel who fought for freedom in World War II.

POSNER | Erich Alfred | F/O | 311 | Medical Officer

POSNER | Jan | W/O | 311 | Pilot

There, immortalized forever, were my father and his brother. I wonder what they would have thought of me, bursting with pride, looking at their memorial. Yet I was filled with a huge sadness too. Two decades ago, in 1997, I had stood in the Pinkas Synagogue on the other side of the Vltava river staring at a wall with tens of thousands of names. At eye level I had found my grandmother’s last official record POSNEROVA ANNA 24 X1 1877 18 X11 1943.

In a bizarre way, I, Judi Challiner, born Posner, have paid tribute to them all and carry my Czech citizenship with even more pride because of them.

Linda: “Much as we celebrate the centenary of the Czechoslovak Republic, we should also remember 80 years that marked the event that I remember being lauded in the communist textbooks as a Victorious February of Working Class. In fact, after the nationalization of the property, the communists took away the prestigious pharmacy located at Pohořelec Prague Castle Area from my grandparents. My grandfather, a successful pharmacist and an entrepreneur, never recovered from this loss. Your father, on the other hand, had to escape his fatherland for the second time. It was the second wave of immigration that the country suffered.”

Judi: I completely understand this sense of loss. 70 years ago, my father made his second escape from Czechoslovakia. Again, he was working as a doctor in Bata’s hospital in Zlín but this time he was married and had a three-year old daughter – me! The grim discovery of what had happened to his mother and family haunted him for the rest of his life. Before escaping in 1948, he had returned to the family home Rossini in Karlovy Vary and managed to ship furniture and family possessions which had been hidden in the cellar to England. In England, he became an eminent consultant of chest diseases in Stoke on Trent. He was part of the “Lidice Must Live Working Party” with Sir Barnet Stross, set up a fund for Czechoslovak students at Keele University in 1968, wrote many papers including studies of Johann Gregor Mendel’s work in Brno. Yet unlike many similar Czech naturalized British citizens, he always, always yearned for his beloved Czechoslovakia and like your grandfather never really recovered from the loss of his mother, his home, his country and his life there.

The communists in 1948, built a dossier of lies about him and his family, which I discovered when applying for my Czech citizenship. They recorded that his mother, and father went to Australia to escape the Holocaust. His date of escape from Czechoslovakia was completely wrong and he was branded as a criminal, even worse, a Jewish criminal. Leaving in 1948 meant that he escaped the infamous Slánský’s trials and almost certain execution.

Linda: “Let us talk about 1968, as we celebrated 50 years since the Prague Spring and your first visit to Czechoslovakia that you remember. You visited Prague once by yourself in April and later with your father, mother and sister in August 1968, just before the Russians invaded again.”

Judi: I returned to Prague in the euphoric days of the Prague Spring. I made contact with my father’s old friends, doctors he had worked with and journalists who had helped him in the dark days of 1948. Wonderful people who were delighted to entertain me with trips to castles, theatres, wine cellars, restaurants, etc. However, all these treats were eclipsed by one afternoon of coffee and cake at Kampa, with none other than Jan Werich. He and my father’s student group were all part of the theatrical milieu in Prague. During the 1960s Jan Werich regularly visited London and whenever he was in town my father would meet him. Going to his flat on beautiful Kampa to have coffee and cake is still etched in my memory. He appeared from his study, wham! Layer upon layer of funny, sad, satirical anecdotes meant the coffee went cold, the very dry sacher-torte was left untouched. Werichova Vila opened in June 2017 for all to enjoy and on Oct 7, my birthday, I went to pay my respects! The goosebumps began when I climbed the stone stairs to the floor which had been his flat. Sitting at his desk looking at photos, I could hear his voice, his laugh, I could see his expressions. I remembered a quote of his that I had written down years ago, “One woman often sees more than five men with binoculars.” I don’t know whether I saw more than those binoculared men, but the pictures which I had in my mind from that visit in 1968 were countless!

After 1968, the pictures stayed in my mind until a short visit in 1997 when I made a promise to the Pinkas Synagogue’s inscription of my grandmother’s name to return more permanently. In 2004, I came back to live and work and move back and forth between Manchester and Prague. 14 years later I am still dividing my time between the two cities.

Linda: Both, you and the country you are now a citizen of, have in common the pattern of events which happened in years ending in 8. So how has your 2018 been so far?

Judi: 2018, has been an extraordinary year for me. At the beginning of January, I wrote to the Jewish Museum in Karlovy Vary to find out more about my Posner family. In a matter of days, I had the address of the house, Rossini on Bulharská 17, photos of my grandfather’s tombstone with the commemoration of his wife underneath and an invitation to go and see the curator Lukáš Svoboda to find out more. In March, my husband secretly booked a hotel two blocks down from Rossini, the hotel manager arranged that we could cross the threshold and go inside my father’s family home and we spent three amazing, educational hours at the Jewish Museum. After that whirlwind, kaleidoscope of events I know this is where my Czech roots are and a bit of me belongs. Later, at the end of June, we had a family party at the Karlovy Vary Film festival. This time my sister, her daughter and I, represented three generations of Posner women, who are proud to be descendants of this great family.

In September, I went with my power of attorney to collect my Czech passport and ID. In October, I finished the book which I am co-writing with you, my friend. The title of my story is ‘Grandmothers are forever’. Although I never met her, Anna Posnerova has led me on a lifelong, pathos filled yet exhilarating journey. When I crossed the threshold of Rossini on March 11, 2018, I walked on the same tiles, held the same wrought iron banisters and looked through the same windows that she did. Then
I knew that years ending in 8 are truly magic.

Whatever happens with the populist lies of the Brexit debacle, I know one thing. I am a citizen of somewhere, where Václav Havel’s eternal quote is still my favorite message for us all. “Truth and love will overcome lies and hatred.”

 

By Linda Štucbartová

Ivan Bartoš

 

“The most important thing in politics is to keep learning”

 

Ivan Bartoš, Chairman of the Czech Pirate Party and the Deputy Representative in the Parliament of the Czech Republic

Ivan Bartoš is the Chairman of the Czech Pirate Party and the Deputy Representative in the Parliament of the Czech Republic where he chairs the Committee for Public Sector and Regional Development. He has been a member of the Pirate Party since its foundation in 2009. Even though people believe Mr. Bartoš had studied mathematics and informatics, in fact he studied psychology and information science at Husite Theological Faculty, and he ended up with a PhD degree from the information studies and librarianship from Charles University, which is a combination of information, society and systems on the social level. His working experience ranges from public institutions to NGOs and large multinational corporations. Ivan Bartoš has had a long-lasting interest in social topics and quality of life even prior to entering the politics. When Ivan Bartoš had more spare time, he enjoyed being a DJ, playing accordion and singing in a band, but these days he is too busy. He is married to Lydia Franka, also a member of the Pirate party.

Ivan Bartoš says that the Pirate party is the only truly democratic political platform that reflects the reality of the 21st century. „Technologies we have at our disposal can help us and make our lives easier to a great extent. However, we should avoid that they become a tool for a digital totalitarian régime“. Understandably, freedom and mutual respect are the values most important to him.

I was lucky to meet Ivan Bartoš not only at a time when the Parliament was in session but also during the times of interpellations. Our interview was interrupted and, on a screen, I could watch Mr. Bartoš interpellating Prime Minister Babiš regarding the non-transparent ownership of Agrofert and the possible consequences with regards to the EU sanctions. The atmosphere in the Pirate party club in the Parliament was relaxed and less formal on one hand yet buzzing with activity on the other. No wonder. After 10 years on the political scene, the Pirate party has many reasons to celebrate. Thanks to their results in the last municipal elections in September, they have become key players for many coalitions in various towns and cities, including Mr. Zdeněk Hřib who later that day was announced as the future Mayor of Prague.

Mr. Bartoš considers himself a true European. Given his age and experience, he is one of the few top-ranking Czech politicians who speaks English fluently. I am proud that you, the readers of the Czech and Slovak Magazine, can enjoy this interview in the original version, not the translation. Enjoy this unique opportunity, reading an interview with a leading Czech politician in English!

Mr. Bartoš, it has been 10 years, since the Pirate party was established and 10 years, since you entered the politics. Congratulations! Were you aware of the anniversary?

We started the Pirate party as a rather spontaneous action and I was not the founder. We were not aware of the consequences, however we believed in fast success. If you do something that you believe in, you hope for fast victory, not a long-distance run. Thanks to Facebook reminders, and it is necessary to mention that Facebook has existed longer than our party, we are reminded how much the party has grown. We still manage to keep the joy in doing politics, one thing that differentiates us from the other parties. The party itself is changing, a younger generation of people is coming and joining the party, which means that they are 18 years younger than me. I must admit, that little by little, I seem to less understand them and their way of living. Imagine, they were born and grew up in an era of having the internet in every household, since childhood they are used to the cellphones. The founder of the World Pirate Party Movement himself, Rick Falkvinge, predicted the generational change and appealed to us to “let them do their work” whenever we find out we do not understand the latest issues and trends. Overall, I must say that I feel very proud and thankful to all the people who have helped us. If I compare us to a product, we have become a very good product, an easy one to market as well. We are not the ones to spend hundreds of million crowns on a campaign just to keep the results from the previous elections. We are the most cost- efficient party with regard to campaigns.

From your personal anniversary to the anniversary of 100 years of Czechoslovakia. What are your thoughts – nostalgia, hope or something else?

I must admit that I am not having any other or different thoughts about the way I think about society in general just because of this special day. We do have many interesting personalities, in terms of politicians or scientists, but the heritage of the nation is embedded in the every-day work of the ordinary people. My social media status for this occasion deals with the issue of bravery. Many people talk about this trait but in fact bravery depends on the options people have. People in the Czech Republic have their own problems like everywhere in the world. For someone, bravery might be demonstrated just by getting up, going to work, raising their children. I am happy that thanks to my family and my education, I am equipped to try to change things. However, I would like to stress one thing. The anniversary is not only for the Czechs and Slovaks, but we should also mention all foreigners who either live here or abroad but have made a considerable impact on society.

Based on the results of the fall elections, the year 2018 for the Pirates will not be remembered as the symbol of centenary, but as a substantial victory in regional and municipal elections, that brought the Pirates to the position of the Mayor of Prague.

Again, I have to point that we started from zero. We had no major funding from large corporations. Each election is, to some extent special. The proof of how wide-spread our concept is in how the party grows and functions“. We currently have 22 women and men representatives in Parliament. The most important thing in politics is to keep learning. You can make mistakes, but you need to learn from them and build on the knowledge consecutively. I am known as a sci-fi and a Star Trek fan, so now a very useful story comes to my mind. An intelligent star is approaching the earth; a star which calls itself VGer and which is looking for its creator. The Americans treat it as a threat and make contact with the artificial intelligence only to discover that it is a probe that NASA sent into space many years ago in order to investigate space and acquire knowledge. There was space dust on the probe and once it had learnt so much that it was able to look at itself, it saw the name VGer – the original inscription for Voyager. With the aim to improve its ability to learn. Sometimes, I feel like Pirates are a satellite thrown to the politics that learns and tries to improve with each mistake. In general, I can say that politicians lose the ability to do so, once they enter the politics; they usually accept the status quo and the rules of how politics is done, and they do not dare to challenge it. The more we are trying to improve the system, the more we need to be better educated, as we are not an artificial intelligence, but we are intelligent people who like to learn. I believe this is the foundation for our growth and our good results in the elections. Again, all by ourselves, without any PR agency or external advisors.

I must say that I find your system, that allows anyone interested to approach you and become active on an issue they find relevant, quite remarkable. A year ago, I attended your conference on education and social affairs that was opened for many key players and stakeholders not only from various institutions but also with truly different viewpoints. I know if I want to approach any of your members of parliament, I just open their diary on-line and make an appointment. Your meeting minutes of the party leadership are also on-line.

This is the hardest way to do politics, as anyone can approach you anytime. In the future, this might even become an issue of personal security. We have started with complete transparency and everyone around just kept saying that this is not the way to do it. Some areas where politics is done behind the scenes can actually be closed for us, as we are not part of that. In the long term, such openness has helped us, especially every time there was a campaign against us. The transparency on the other hand protects us. Every Pirate shares their contacts with lobbyists, so there is little that someone can expose about us. This openness is also essential for out of the box thinking. In case you are preparing a legislation challenging the status quo but applicable to the “real world”, you have to accept feedback from the “real world” from the beginning, not after you are done with the proposal. It is only natural to get upset after you have worked hard on something alone for a long time. Therefore, we involve as many stakeholders as possible from the very beginning, to end up with a solution that is acceptable for everyone who has participated. That is how we will run cities in the future.

I come from Jablonec nad Nisou and as a citizen, I am informed about the finished result. This is the passive way of communication. However, the world is an interactive place. It is not an evening movie where you just consume the final product. Therefore, we want to get people involved in the first place. If we take the field of construction as an example, the projects are finished much faster when you deal with any objections and concerns in the beginning compared to already presenting the future visualized project and being sued by various non-governmental organizations and interest groups. We invite and even challenge the experts to criticize our program, right now in particular on the topic of accessible housing. Some scientists are sometimes still a bit shy and reluctant to share their opinion, being afraid that we will be upset that they come with a different pointofview.Youdonothavetoaccepteverything but definitely you should be able to deal with a different point of view. We are also challenging the fact that we have no access to the data owned by various ministries, as we are not part of the government. We always have to ask the ministers for the data, however the data does not belong to them. When we get to some relevant data, we immediately share them to improve awareness.

You talked a lot about learning. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everything is a copy or a remix. Even for the Prague elections, we sent Mr. Zdeněk Hřib to visit several European cities that are unique in specific approaches to green fields, transportation, intelligent systems, parking lots, etc. Since we are in the European Union, we look mainly there. I myself, do not distinguish between the EU and the Czech Republic, I am European. Politically, the Pirates are based on the traditional principles of direct democracy, dating back to the ancient Greek society. Let me also mention that we also want to inspire others, that is why everything we produce is open and copy-left. We promote open data and open-access.

Who is Ivan Bartoš, when he is not a politician, and a leader, but when he is by himself, just as a private person?

I do not think I am a different person, I cannot be. I am aware of the fact that I am under public scrutiny all the time. Sometimes, I find I am perhaps less spontaneous and more sensitive about my sense of humor. I do not have time for my hobbies anymore. Other than that, you will find no difference. Otherwise, the media would have already disclosed it. I am simply transparent and open. I believe that this has already become the DNA of the Pirate party.

By Linda Štucbartová

The World’s Biggest Airport Will Open in 2019

Beijing’s new airport is set to be the world’s biggest, according to Reuters.

The Beijing New Airport, opening in the southern Daxing district in 2019, will serve as a way to meet the growing needs of air transport in Beijing and enhance the country’s civil aviation presence.

It will become the new base for China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, according to China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

This will put the SkyTeam alliance members under one roof, allowing for easy flight connections for passengers.

The late architect Zaha Hadid designed the Beijing New Airport Terminal Building, which will be filled with civic gardens and include separate passenger areas for international and domestic flights to create a more compact building and reduce travel times.

“The overall symmetry of the airport terminal design, together with its flowing, interconnected forms, create a fluid composition which evokes the harmony and balance evidence in Chinese landscapes, while its colors and materials are an expression of visual language within traditional Chinese culture,” states Zaha Hadid Architecture’s website.

Innovative design features within the new 700,000 square-meter terminal will include a central hub with six curved spikes with walkways that connect to one point to make navigating the terminal easier.

The initial opening phase of the airport will have four runways, while two later phases will lead to additional areas that can push the airport’s capacity to 100 million passengers a year.

Construction is also taking place on a high-speed railway station that passengers will be able to use to get the airport, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China recently announced.

The new airport will help ease travel times, with Beijing’s Capital International Airport currently recognized as the second busiest in the world.

Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award 2018

The HRE Award is presented jointly by the Prague Society and the Global Panel Foundation. The most recent recipients were Zdeněk Tůma, Magda Vášáryová, Tony Fitzjohn and Souad Mekhennet in 2016.
Previous recipients include Andrés Pastrana, Gen. Wesley Clark, Jiří Dienstbier, Madeleine Albright, Václav Havel, Adam Michnik and the 14th Dalai Lama.

The Award was presented to the Santa Marta Group for combating modern slavery and human trafficking globally. In particular it focuses on bringing together the heads of national and international police and law enforcement agencies along with international organisations to look at how they can work with the Catholic Church to help victims. The Santa Marta Group is named after the home of Pope Francis and was initiated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference for England and Wales. It was established in Rome in 2014 when police chiefs and Catholic bishops came together in the presence of Pope Francis.

Special Awards for 2018 include:

Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová receive a Special Award in memoriam for their courageous commitment to Kuciak’s work as an investigative reporter. The couple were murdered in their home in February 2018 in an attempt to silence them. Kuciak, in his work, focused on politically related fraud. At the time of his death he had been working on a story on the influence of the Calabrian mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta,’ on business and politics in Slovakia.

AUSTRIAN NATIONAL DAY

Photo coverage of Austrian National Day

Alphonse Mucha

Gismonda poster, 1894, starting point of Mucha ́s career in Paris

“The purpose of my work was never to destroy but always to create, to construct bridges, because we must live in the hope that humankind will draw together and that the better we understand each other the easier this will become. I will be happy if I have contributed in my own modest way to this understanding, at least within our Slav family.”

Virtual illustrator and monumental painter, renowned Parisian artist and convinced Czech patriot, Alphonse Mucha, it would seem, lived a hundred lives, and he did so particularly intensively during the Art Nouveau period.

All it took was just one poster to make him the most fashionable Parisian artist at the end of the nineteenth century. But what a poster! Portraying the “divine Sarah Bernhardt” as Gismonda, the role she was playing in Victorien Sardou’s play, Alphonse Mucha could not have remotely imagined it would launch a style which would bear his name. It sounds like a fairytale. Mucha, who had left his native country at the age of 17 to slowly build up somewhat of a reputation as an illustrator, on Christmas Eve 1894 while working at a publishing house discovered that the actress required a new poster for Gismonda which had to be ready before the New Year. Mucha, 34 years old, did not hesitate, created his poster and immediately sent it to the artist at the Théâtre de la Renaissance. The famous actress was thrilled by the result, wanting to meet Mucha immediately, and shortly thereafter signing an exclusive six-year contract with him giving him ten times the earnings he had made at the Lemercier publishing house. The artist ordered posters, theatre decorations, costume designs and a number of pieces of theatrical jewellery.

Overnight, the whole of Paris was enthused by the n