nedeľa 29. novembra 2009

nedeľa 22. novembra 2009

get to know the leader of Velvet revolution Václav Havel

Vaclav Havel
Writer and Dramatist; One of the first Spokesmen for Charter 77; Leading Figure of the Velvet Revolution of 1989; Last President of Czechoslovakia; and First President of the Czech Republic.

Václav Havel grew up in a well-known entrepreneurial and intellectual family, which was closely linked to the cultural and political events in Czechoslovakia from the 1920's to the 1940's. Because of these links the communists did not allow Havel to study formally after having completed required schooling in 1951. In the first part of the 1950's, a young Václav Havel entered into a four-year apprenticeship as a chemical laboratory assistant and simultaneously took evening classes to complete his secondary education (which he did in 1954). For political reasons he was not accepted into any post-secondary school with a humanities program; therefore, he opted to study at the Faculty of Economics of Czech Technical University. He left this program after two years.

The intellectual tradition of his family compelled Václav Havel to pursue the humanitarian values of Czech culture, which were harshly suppressed in the 1950's. Following his return from two years of military service, he worked as a stage technician - first at Divadlo ABC, and then, in 1960, at Divadlo Na zabradli. From 1962 until 1966, he studied Drama by correspondence at the Faculty of Theatre of the Academy of Musical Arts, and completed his studies with a commentary on the play "Eduard", which became the basis of his own "The Increased Difficulty of Concentration".

From the age of twenty years, Václav Havel published a number of studies and articles in various literary and theatrical periodicals. His first works were presented at the Divadlo Na zabradli; amongst these was the play "The Garden Party" (1963). It soon became a component of the revivalist tendencies of Czechoslovak society in the 1960's. This civic self-awareness culminated in the historic Prague Spring of 1968. During this time Havel not only produced other plays, such as "The Memorandum" (1965) and "The Increased Difficulty of Concentration" (1968), but was also the chair of the Club of Independent Writers and a member of the Club of [Politically] Engaged Non-Partisans. From 1965, he worked at the non- Marxist monthly Tvar.

In 1956, he became acquainted with Olga Splichalova, and their diverse family backgrounds attracted them to each other. After an eight-year acquaintance, they married. From that point on, Olga would accompany Václav through the most difficult experiences of their lives. The future President would later refer to her as his indispensable source of support.

Following the suppression of the Prague Spring by the invasion of the armies of the Warsaw Pact, Havel stood against the political repression characterized by the years of the so-called communist "normalization". In 1975, he wrote an open letter to President Husak, in which he warned of the accumulated antagonism in Czechoslovak society. The culmination of his activities resulted in Charter 77.

Published in January of 1977, it embodied the character of the Czechoslovak population which silently protested against the communist government and resultant oppression, as well as providing a name for the movement. Václav Havel was one of the founders of this initiative, and one of its first three spokesmen. In April, 1979, he became a co-founder of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted. He was imprisoned three times for his civic views, and spent nearly five years behind bars.

During this time, Czechoslovak authorities made it impossible to publish any of Havel's texts. Under the guidance of Havel's former literary agent, Klaus Juncker, the German publishing company Rowohlt, based in Reinbek near Hamburg, compliled a nearly complete publication of Havel's works.

In the second half of the 1980's, at a time of increasing dialogue between the Soviet Union and the Western Democracies, there was an perceptible increase in open dissatisfaction with the government in Czechoslovak society. The citizens became less willing to accept the repressive policies of the communist regime, which was seen in the willingness to sign the petition of "A Few Sentences", of which Havel was one of the authors. Whereas Charter 77 had only a few hundred signatories, ten thousand Czechoslovaks signed the Petition.

The beginning of social change began with a peaceful demonstration of students on November 17, 1989, on the occasion of the closure of Czechoslovak post-secondary schools by the occupying Nazis. The communist regime's police force brutally suppressed this demonstration on Narodni Trida in Prague. Students and Artists came to the forefront of subsequent civic uprisings. The meeting of the Drama Club of November 19th gave rise to Civic Forum, which became an umbrella group for organizations and individuals who demanded fundamental changes in the Czechoslovak political system. From its inception, Václav Havel became its leading figure. The social upheaval came to a climax on December 29th, 1989, when Václav Havel, as the candidate of Civic Forum, was elected President by the Federal Assembly of Czechoslovakia. In his inaugural address, he promised to lead the nation to free elections, which he fulfilled in the summer of 1990. He was elected to the Czechoslovak Presidency a second time by the Federal Assembly on the 5th of July the same year.

Due to his unyielding political stance through the years of communist totality, Václav Havel became a recognized moral authority. The depth of his perception of the problems of civilization and his contemplation of their formulation enabled him to become very well- respected, even in the framework of his new function as Head of State, and outstanding amongst politicians.

During the course of his second term in office as President of the Czech and Slovak Federation, however, a rift between the Czech and Slovak political representatives over the future organization of the state began to emerge. Václav Havel was a determined supporter of a common Federation of Czechs and Slovaks, and always used his political influence to promote it. After the July 1992 parliamentary elections, the strongest contingents failed to agree on a functional model of the Federation and, as a direct result of this, the rift between Czech and Slovak political factions widened and failed to provide Havel with the required number of votes in the presidential elections of July 3, 1992. According to Czechoslovak law, he was able to remain President for a period of time, which stretched to July 20, when, due to his inability to fulfill his oath of loyalty to the Republic in such a manner to be in line with his conviction, disposition, and conscience, he resigned the Presidency.

After leaving office, Havel retired from public life for a while. In mid-November 1992, during a time when the onset of an independent Czech state was imminent, he confirmed that he would be seeking the Presidency. The official nomination of his candidacy was submitted on January 18, 1993 by four political parties of the ruling coalition government. On January 26, 1993, the Chamber of Deputies elected Václav Havel to be the first President of the independent Czech Republic.

Olga Havlova dedicated her time primarily to charitable activities. Inspired by the work of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted, she founded the Goodwill Foundation in 1990, whose activities were directed at helping the mentally and physically handicapped. She died in 1996 after a severe, prolonged illness.

The end of 1996 dealt Havel another blow - a serious medical condition in his lungs. Early detection and quick, radical action on the part of his physicians were decisive in a successful recovery. His source of support in this time of trouble took the form of his friend Dagmar Veskrnova, whom the President married shortly after his release from hospital in January 1997.

Under difficult political circumstances, he was re-elected to the Presidency by both Chambers of Parliament on January 20, 1998.

Since leaving office as President of the Czech Republic on 2nd February 2003 he has focused his activities on the respect of human rights worldwide, particularly in Cuba , Belarus and Burma, as well as on his literary work. As co-founder of the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation Vize 97, he has supported humanitarian, health and educational projects.

For his literary and dramatic works, for his lifelong efforts and opinions, and for his position on the upholding of human rights, Václav Havel is the recipient of a number of state decorations, international awards and honorary doctorates.

Find the video link here:

Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia - 1989

During the second half of the 1980s, the general situation in Czechoslovakia became more easygoing, especially after the introduction of Perestroika reforms in the then-Soviet Union. But the Czechoslovak leadership - still headed by Gustav Husak, who had assumed power after the Soviet Invasion of 1968 - was leery of movements intended to "reform communism from within" and continued to toe a hard line in Czechoslovakia, much to the chagrin of Mikhail Gorbacev. But by 1988 there were organized demonstrations demanding change - and just about one month after the fall of the Berlin Wall, communism in Czechoslovakia became a casualty as well.
The six-week period between November 17 and December 29, 1989, also known as the "Velvet Revolution" brought about the bloodless overthrow of the Czechoslovak communist regime. Almost immediately, rumors (which have never been proved) began to circulate that the impetus for the Velvet Revolution had come from a KGB provocateur sent by Gorbacev, who wanted reform rather than hardline communists in power. The theory goes that the popular demonstrations went farther than Gorbacev and the KGB had intended. In part because of this, the Czechs do not like the term "Velvet Revolution," preferring to call what happened "the November Events" (Listopadove udalosti) or - sometimes - just "November" (Listopad). But we digress.
It all started on November 17, 1989 - fifty years to the day that Czech students had held a demonstration to protest the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. On this anniversary, students in the capital city of Prague were again protesting an oppressive regime.
The protest began as a legal rally to commemorate the death of Jan Opletal, but turned instead into a demonstration demanding democratic reforms. Riot police stopped the students (who were making their way from the Czech National Cemetery at Vysehrad to Wenceslas Square) halfway in their march, in Narodni trida. After a stand-off in which the students offered flowers to the riot police and showed no resistance, the police bagan beating the young demonstrators with night sticks. In all, at least 167 people were injured. One student was reportedly beaten to death, and - although this was later proved false - this rumor served to crystallize support for the students and their demands among the general public. In a severe blow to the communists' morale, a number of workers' unions immediately joined the students' cause.
From Saturday, November 18, until the general strike of November 27, mass demonstrations took place in Prague (the capital of the Czech republic and also the capital of Czechoslovak republic), Bratislava (the capital of the Slovak republic), and elsewhere - and public discussions instead of performances were held in Czechoslovakia' theaters. During one of these discussions, at the Cinoherni Klub theater on Sunday, November 19, the Civic Forum (OF) was established as the official "spokesgroup" for "the segment of the Czechoslovak public which is ever more critical of the policy of the present Czechoslovak leadership."
The Civic Forum, led by the then-dissident Vaclav Havel, demanded the resignation of the Communist government, the release of prisoners of conscience, and investigations into the November 17 police action. A similar initiative - the Public Against Violence (VPN) - was born in Slovakia on November 20, 1989. Both of them were joined en masse by Czechoslovak citizens - from university students and staff to workers in factories and employees of other institutions. It took about 2 weeks for the nation's media to begin broadcasting reports of what was really going on in Prague, and in the interim students travelled to cities and villages in the countryside to rally support outside the capital.
The leaders of the Communist regime were totally unprepared to deal with the popular unrest, even though communist regimes throughout the region hadbeen wobbling and toppling around them for some time.
As the mass demonstrations continued - and more and more Czechoslovaks supported the general strikes that were called - an extraordinary session of the Czechoslovak Communist Party Central Committee was called. The Presidium of the Communist Party resigned, and a relatively unknown Party member, Karel Urbanek, was elected as the new Communist Party leader. The public rejected these cosmetic changes, which were intended to give the impression that the Communist Party was being reformed from within as it had been in 1968. The people's dissatisfaction increased.
Massive demonstrations of almost 750,000 people at Letna Park in Prague on November 25 and 26, and the general strike on the 27th were devastating for the communist regime. Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec was forced to hold talks with the Civic Forum, which was led by still- dissident (soon to be President) Vaclav Havel. The Civic Forum presented a list of political demands at their second meeting with Adamec, who agreed to form a new coalition government, and to delete three articles - guaranteeing a leading role in political life for the Czechoslovak Communist Party and for the National Front, and mandating Marxist-Leninist education - from the Constitution. These amendments were unanimously approved by the communist parliament the next day, on November 29, 1989.
Well, the old saying that 'if you give them an inch, they'll take a mile' held true,and the communist capitulation led to increased demands on the part of the demonstrators. A new government was formed by Marian Calfa; it included just nine members of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (several of whom actively cooperated with the Civic Forum); two members of the Czechoslovak Socialist Party; two members of the Czechoslovak People's Party; and seven ministers with no party affiliation - all of latter were Civic Forum or Public Against Violence activists.
This new government was named by Czechoslovak President Gustav Husak on December 10. The same evening, he went on television to announce his resignation, and the Civic Forum cancelled a general strike which had been scheduled for the next day.
At the 19th joint session of the two houses of the Federal Assembly, Alexander Dubcek - who had led the ill-fated Prague Spring movement in the 1960's - was elected Speaker of the Federal Assembly. One day later, the parliament elected the Civic Forum's leader, Vaclav Havel, President of Czechoslovakia.
Despite their many shortcomings - not the least of which were political inexperience and serious time pressures - the new government and parliament were able to fill in many of the most gaping gaps in the Czechoslovak legal framework - concentrating in particular on the areas of human rights and freedoms, private ownership, and business law. They were also able to lay the framework for the first free elections to be held in Czechoslovakia in more than 40 years.
The results of the 1990 local and parliamentary elections in Czechoslovakia, which were likened at the time to a referendum which posed the question "Communism, yes or no?" showed a sweeping victory for the soon to be extinct Civic Forum (OF) in the Czech Republic, and for the Public Against Violence (VPN) in Slovakia. In other words, "Communism, no thanks."
The turnout for the local elections was more than 73 percent, and for Parliamentary elections more than 96 percent of the population went to the polls!
Czech Petr Pithart of the Civic Forum was elected as Czech Premier, Slovaks Vladimir Meciar and Marian Calfa, both of the Public Against Violence (VPN), were elected Slovak and Federal Premier, respectively. Vaclav Havel was re-elected as the Czechoslovak President on July 5, 1990.

Interview with Matej Haško, a former student of Grammar school in Levice Slovakia, who was active during Velvet revolution in 1989

Interview with Matej Haško, a former student of Grammar school in Levice Slovakia, who was active during Velvet revolution in 1989

How did you live out 17 November 1989?
In 1989 I was a student of the second form of Grammar School in my hometown Levice and I spent the evening at the disco on 17 November 1989. When I returned home, my parents, both teachers, were listening to the programme of the radio station Voice of America and they were searching for fresh information about what was going on in Prague on foreign TV – Sky News. We also got some news from my mother´s acquaintances who lived in Prague, Czech republic, the centre of historical revolutional events. I was very interested in this news, too.

What were the active students doing first days after 17 November?
Immediately during the first week after 17 November, we – Grammar School students, met our older former schoolmates who were studying at universities in Bratislava, the capital of our country. They were mediating us new information what was going on in Bratislava. Me and my classmate Števo Dobrovolný were rewriting things brought from Bratislava all night. The next morning we were distributing the leaflets with new information because there was nothing written in the newspapers that time, it was the censorship in newspapers, radio and TV first days after 17 November.

Did you discuss and cooperate with your teachers in your activities?
There was created a kind of moving group of students at our Grammar school. First, teachers did not know how to act, they were reserved, what seemed to us - actively and revolutionarily attuned students – really weird. Nowadays I understand them. They allowed us to to work out the requiremets what we want to change. I remember one of them. We wanted to change the foreign language we were learning. It was Russian, we wanted to learn other foreign language. I refused to take Russian A-levels.

How do you remember at those revolutionary days now?
I think those days were full of entusiasm of people who longed for democratic changes in our country and whole socialistic block. A lot of positive changes have happened in our country and finally both Czechs and Slovaks reached their freedom and democracy, though it is always necessary to fight against many negative things in our society, e.g.corruption.

Matej Haško is a director of the Private Language School in Levice and a successful interpreter now. He is a good and active citizen of the Slovak republic.

sobota 21. novembra 2009

eTwinning label

A Slovak and Belgian teachers were awarded by eTwinning label for their project "Velvet revolution and Velvet divorce"

utorok 17. novembra 2009

Local newspapers wrote about our project

Our project about Velvet revolution and Velvet revolution has been presented to the wider public in the article in the local newspapers MY

How citizens of Levice fought for their freedom

This photo was taken 20 years ago in the streets of our town of Levice, where our paretns fought for our freedom during the Velvet revolution in former Czechoslovakia.

pondelok 16. novembra 2009

Today we commemorate 20th anniversary of Velvet revolution

Czechs and Slovaks - two nations living together for almost 70 years in the Czechoslovak republic, now separately in the Czech and Slovak republics commemorate 20th anniversary of Velvet revolution which opened the door to democracy, freedom and new opportunieties for both nations.

Presentation of eTwinning projects

Posted by Picasa

Slovak students presented their eTwinning projects and especially the new project "Velvet revolution and velvet divorce" to visitors of Open Day at Business academy in Levice on 16 November

Velvet revolution in Photo exhibition

Slovak students have made a videofilm about the Velvet revolution in the Photo exhibition which has been made to 20th anniversary of the Velvet revolution in former Czechoslovakia. Enjoy it!

nedeľa 15. novembra 2009

Photo exhibition about Velvet revolution

Slovak students prepared the photo exhibition about Velvet revolution in former Czechoslovakia in 1989 for their Belgian partners

Velvet revolution, November 1989

This short photo presentation shows the atmosphere of meetings, demonstrations in Czechoslovakia in November 1989. See

Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia

Velvet revolution started on in the demonstration in Prague on 17 November 1989. You can find more information about it at this address on You tube on

Czechs and Slovaks mark 20th Velvet Revolution anniversary

This is the Memorial of Velvet revolution in Prague.

Memorial of Velvet revolution in Prague

You can find the memorial of Velvet revolution in Prague at this address in Youtube.

sobota 14. novembra 2009

The project "VELVET REVOLUTION AND VELVET DIVORCE" has just started

Slovak and Belgian secondary schools have started the new project called "VELVET REVOLUTION AND VELVET DIVORCE". The project deals with the part of history of the Czechoslovak republic Velvet revolution which opened the door to democracy in this country. Later on as called Velvet divorce  opened the door to separate lives of Czech and Slovaks. The project also deals with similar relationships of Valons and Flames in belgium and tries to find paralels in the social process in both countries.