Posts tagged ‘Czech Republic’

Saturday, February 16, 2013

World Radio Day 2013: Authentic Experience, enhanced by Listening Live

If shortwave had been discovered today instead of eight decades ago it would be hailed as an amazing new technology with great potential for the world we live in today.

This is how former BBC World Service managing director John Tusa is quoted on the pages of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Radio Prague QSL, December 1985

Radio Prague QSL, December 1985

February 13 was World Radio Day (yours truly wasn’t aware on Wednesday, either). One of the UNESCO articles,  Shortwave Broadcasting – Challenges and Opportunities -, written by Oldrich Cip,  the High Frequency Coordination Conference (HFCC) chairman, makes quite a case for shortwave radio. Excerpts:

The prospect of rising affluence in many world regions creates an increasing opportunity for this specific delivery platform. Three billion people – or 50 per cent – of world population lives below the poverty line on less than 2.50 USD a day.1 Their first choice of communication devices will be a mobile telephone, a radio or both. For most, listening to a local FM channel, a community station or an international broadcast is still more affordable than a computer, a television or other electronic devices.
[...]
Reduced interest and funding of shortwave broadcasting, including the dismantling of infrastructure, will make shortwave broadcasting during humanitarian disasters more difficult or even impossible.

Cip also advocates Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM): Given the dramatic improvement in sound quality over present analogue AM broadcasting, it is anticipated that DRM will soon become the preferred technology for shortwave radio.

Discussing Shortwave Broadcasting and Internet Applications – Competition or Synergy, Cip comes across as somewhat ambivalent (and in favor of shortwave, in case of a doubt):

The presence of broadcasters across all distribution platforms is important for effective worldwide delivery. Audiences are able to personalize their listening experience.

But:

There is evidence that radio is best for live listening —- especially for news, current affairs and sport programmes. Authentic experience is enhanced by listening live to long-distance shortwave radio stations and their programmes.

And:

Radio has a strong emotional appeal. People listen regularly to one or two radio stations only. This appeal of radio has been even more typical in shortwave broadcasting. Enduring bonds and contacts between listeners to shortwave stations and broadcasters have existed long before the advent of social media.

“New delivery platforms” and social media could do a lot to enrich shortwave broadcasts and help collecting user-generated content, writes Cip – but to him, a world without shortwave appears to be unthinkable.

Maybe the emotional-appeal argument is strongly tinged with nostalgia, but I doubt it. I’m much younger than Cip, and many stations have dropped from my map since they went off air.

In his capacity as Radio Prague‘s frequency manager, when asked in 2006 if he was afraid there could perhaps be a loss of political will to continue with shortwave international broadcasting, Oldrich Cip chose a rather diplomatic reply:

Yes, I think that is a preoccupation not only of myself but of other international broadcasters and of people who work in this field. But at the same time I am confident that some form of international broadcasting will survive, and will continue throughout this millennium.

Whatever “some form of international” broadcasting meant. When Radio Prague went off the air (or shortwave, but heck, where’s the difference?) in 2011, Cip was more explicit:

[...] The delivery methods of international radio have diversified, with the internet and satellites, but shortwave has some specific properties, and it is my very strong belief that there will always be a specific segment of the audience that prefers shortwave broadcasting from terrestrial transmitters to other delivery methods. I am afraid that some of the decision makers in some of the big organisations may cause a domino effect, whereby when they start reducing then the smaller ones follow suit. So I am afraid that the reduction of shortwave broadcasting around the world was made quite hastily and is not a good development.

In 2011, Cip was right. And it seems to me that Radio Prague – different from other European station who has signed off as a radio broadcaster in recent years – was quite explicit in acknowledging that they were going to lose listeners:

[...] To those of you who will be unable to listen online, it has been our great pleasure and privilege to offer you this service. From all of our staff, thank you very much for listening, and goodbye.

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Related

» Weltrauschtag, Gustlik/DFC, Febr 13, 2013
» VoR terminates shortwave for Europe, Dec 31, 2012
» BBC: Taking back their Gift, Nov 4, 2012
» DW Chinese: Sad Responsibility, Oct 27, 2012
» Radio Canada International Retired, April 9, 2012
» DW, End of the Radio Era, Jan 2, 2012
» Why limit yourself, Chris Freitas, July 27, 2011
» Radio Netherlands: anticipatory obedience, June 10, 2011

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

RFE/Radio Liberty: Broadcasting Board of Governors orders Cease-Fire, Fires Steven Korn

America's Space Shuttle Program, featured on a VoA QSL Card of 1986

Mr. Korn goes on a vacation. Click on this picture for Bachrach’s blogpost. (VoA QSL Card of 1986.)

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has reportedly fired Steven Korn, president and CEO at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. However, the governors had been in no hurry to inform the press, Judy Bachrach wrote in a blogpost on Christmas eve, so as to encourage the press (i.e., me) to linger in order to discover what was bubbling beneath the blather. While much of the meltdown of Radio Liberty’s Russian service could be attributed to Vladimir Putin, Korn had aggravated things, not least with the summary sacking of 41 seasoned Russian journalists, Bachrach wrote. So did an alledged closeness of leading members of the Russian service. Russian dissidents, and Mikhail Gorbachev, had complained about that.

Korn would formally keep his position until February, but won’t be allowed to fire any more members of RFE/Radio Liberty, Bachrach wrote and told her readers that she welcomes sources for further information. Korn took the position as RFE/RL’s CEO on June 3, 2011.

RIA Novosti‘s German service quotes BBG member Victor Ashe, also by drawing on Bachrach’s blogpost, as saying that Steve Korn was a tremendous disappointment as the No. 1 person at RFERL, but ignores all the content of her post that is critical of Putin and the Russian authorities.

The summary firing of the Russian journalists had met with a lot of criticism in recent months, among others from human rights activist Pavel Litvinov and from David Satter.

But Russia wasn’t necessarily the only minefield for Korn. Industrial-relations issues apparently emerged in the Armenian and Croatian services, too, and earlier this month, Lev Roitman, a retired RFE/RL senior commentator, reportedly appealed to the BBG to resign collectively, in an open letter quoted apparently republished by Orer, an Armenian magazine based in Prague.The open letter did have some words of praise for Victor Ashe, however, who – alas unsuccessfully – tries to bring some political and human sense to BBG’s endeavors.

Ashe, a Republican and a former ambassador to Poland, had also been commended by supporters of Voice of America‘s (VoA) Mandarin service, a year ago.

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Related

» RFE/RL job contracts criticized, June 24, 2012
» An open letter from Anna Karapetyan, Mediamax, March 16, 2012

Update/Related

» Actively involved, U.S. News & World Report/freeM, Nov 2012

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

From the Bottom of a Dead Volcano? Public Vehicle Petitions and Open Letters

The following article was published on China Value last Friday, nearly a week ago. It seems to date back to about 2008, but I can’t tell for sure. And maybe the reason for (re)publishing it now can be found in the current news.

An age of open letters has been going on in China ever since, say, 1895, suggests Fu Guoyong (傅国涌), a mainland Chinese journalist. Naval defeat against Japan, then considered a small neighbor, led to the Gongche Shangshu movement (公车上书, literally: public-vehicle movement), a movement that never fully achieved, and at the end of which Kang Youwei began to publish his thoughts about modernization. (Kang actually led the movement.)

Entering the Republic of China, from Hu Shi, Cai Yuanpei and a total of sixteen renowned intellectuals who wrote “Our Political Position” in 1922 to the 1940s, intellectuals wrote one joint declaration or manifesto after another – the open letters of their times. The traditional open letter was reborn in the late 1980s, including authors like Shi Yafeng, Xu Liangying, Mr. Liu Liao, and others from the quarters of science, and including Mr. Wu Zuguang and other gentlemen from the circles of literature and art, writing open letters expressing their political views and conscience. This reached its peak in the peaceful protest movement of 1989 – a great number of open letters emerged, more than people could usually read, including Qian Zhongshu, Ba Jin and other signatories.

And after 1989, open letters were almost the only way to express views, writes Fu. A number of open letters, among them one in 1995, written by Xu Liangying, and one by a medical doctor, Jiang Yanyong, to the NPC and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in 2004 – the latter with a request to re-evaluate 1989 – were relatively influential.
“Open letters in large numbers bear testimony to the vitality of a nation, proving that an old nation hasn’t died”, writes Fu. “Under a dead volcano, there are still unusual voices.”

But open letters also showed that society was lacking effective legal channels and protection by the law, which led to the need to making appeals by such open letters: “a huge tragedy”. Simply said, open letters were one-way, with one side speaking, and the other mostly brushing the appeal aside, acting as if it hadn’t heard the voices, not being used to listen to peaceful voices. Only thunderbolts would shed light. A move from the era of open letters to dialog was contemporary China’s major issue which couldn’t be easily ignored or delayed anymore.

In my view, the “game” is about stating prices and making concessions, by mutually transparent and fair principles, each side giving in a step at a time, with standoffs, compromises, inching forward, giving in and backtracking, and if one sight is dominant and belongs to the side of the exclusively powerful interest groups, and the other interest group is weak, there is no great likelihood for a fair game, and the weaker are mostly at the mercy of the stronger.

The game, concludes Fu, needs clear rules. And it doesn’t work when the stronger side alone determines the rules.
Dialog had once been a hot word, in the CCP’s 13th national congress political report. But it had long since become absent. But dialog had been useful in the more recent past, in critical moments of history. Negotiators for Yuan Shikai‘s side and Sun Yat-sen‘s negotiators had their “South-North Peace talks” and came to the conclusion to send the Qing Dynasty into the museum of history. Another dialog approach, although not successful, was tried to overcome the Chinese north-south divide in 1919, to address the issue of warlordism. 1945 brought the Chongqing talks, and in 1946, a consultative conference came together in Chongqing, too.

Fu also addresses “politicization”. This is a term that is often used in an accusing fashion by the powers that be, against those they think of as their “challengers”. Fu doesn’t say that, either because he doesn’t actually address this context, or because it should go without saying among his readers.
The Chongqing talks and conference were “politicized”, he writes, and successfully so, in a peaceful, rational way, by solving problems and contradictions through dialog, with all sides representing their interests and negotiating them. It was China’s pain that dialog was destroyed by violence, with the complexities of Chinese history behind the violence. But more than once, Chinese people had chosen dialog and negotiations between different interest groups over violence.

I’m taking a short break from Fu’s article here.

The official term, concerning the 13th national congress of the CCP, was – probably – social consultation and dialog (社会协商对话, that’s how Fu puts it), or social system of consultation and dialogue / system of social consultation and dialog (社会协商对话制度). You have to turn to books rather than to websites to find clues about those times.

Back to Fu.

But the weaker weren’t completely bereft of dialog opportunities,he writes. There were (smaller) opportunities, and there was always room for reflection – even though the stronger side had decided to keep its powers, at the cost of dialog. “At the time”, civil representatives’ anger, overboard emotions, childishness, naivete and immaturity had shown that there was still a long way to go to the “era of dialog”, and that the tribulations for the Chinese nation hadn’t been over.

But “no matter how long it will take, I believe that the ‘era of open letters’ will be replaced by an ‘era of dialog’ in the end”, writes Fu. Discussing this transition was an urgent task.

The article also refers to Vaclav Havel‘s and other Czech intellectuals’ Civic Forum and its Eight Dialog Principles (as described/translated by Fu):

- the goal of dialog is to seek truth, not to compete
– no personal attacks
– stick to the topic
– use evidence when debating
– do not insist on your errors
– mind the difference between dialog and only allowing yourself to talk
– keep records of dialog
– do your best to understand the other side.

Fu had read the “code” about ten years before writing his article, and it had been a “new, rocking” experience, in its simplicity and practicality. To learn dialog, he believes, means parting from just talking to oneself, from a winner-take-all mentality, oppression of the weak, lame arguments camouflaged by strong words, but also from a mentality of hate, hostility, an absolutized feeling of superiority, and a place for people from different social classes, with different positions and values to talk with each other.

The main field of China Value, the website who published this article last Friday, isn’t politics, but finance. It addresses professionals. But according to their “about” page, they participate in shaping legislation, and cooperates with Chinese Central Television (CCTV).

Fu Yongguo, born in 1967, writes for a number of literary magazines, and for Southern Weekly (南方周末, aka Southern Weekend).

The rich and the talentend are turning their back on China’s political system as long as there was no legal certainty, Johnny Erling, correspondent for German daily Die Welt in China, (indirectly) quotes CASS scientists. Systematic reform, a reliable social-security network and emancipated participation by the people were needed. For the first time, writes Erling, the CASS blue book mentions China’s brain drain, in the context of China’s economic slowdown. More than 150,000 rich or well-qualified Chinese nationals had acquired resident permits abroad, in 2011.
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Related

» Scholars petition CCP, South China Morning Post, Dec 27, 2012
» Between Negotiation and Affirmation, March 25, 2012
» Scudding Clouds of Modern Thought, October 18, 2011

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Britain Shreds a Fundamental Principle of Diplomatic Relations

Ecuador has accused the UK of making a “threat” to enter its embassy in London to arrest Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, reports the BBC. There seems to be no clear confirmation from the British government, but a statement that the Foreign Office

can lift the embassy’s diplomatic status to fulfil a “legal obligation” to extradite

Assange. Britain may have the legal means to arrest Assange inside the Ecuaorian embassy – the BBC cites the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987.

The act followed the 1984 Libyan embassy siege, and included an option to remove diplomatic status from premises which are being misused. In the Law Gazette, Carl Islam argued that

[f]or both legal and political reasons the Act is unlikely to be used in a crisis situation, but this cannot be ruled out altogether.

And:

[..] even if the authorities were sure of their facts by taking action they ran the risk that the inviolability of the premises might subsequently be upheld in the courts with the embarrassing result that their action would have been illegal.

There were East Germans who took refuge in West Germany’s permanent mission in East Berlin – East Germany respected the permanent mission’s immunity. Czechoslovakia respected the West German embassy’s immunity when East Germans took refuge there. China respected the U.S. embassy’s immunity when Chen Guangcheng, and, decades earlier, Fang Lizhi and his wife, sought refuge there.

To avoid misunderstandings: this is no Assange-Chen-etc. comparison. This is a comparison on how countries respect or disrespect some basics of international relations. If Assange is reason enough to invade Ecuador’s embassy in London, any other reason will be good enough, too. All it takes will be the the passage of domestic legislation to the liking of the host country’s government.

How “special” does the British government think it is? It is unlikely that there will be fundamental conflicts with Sweden which would even remotely justify this action. Maybe Assange’s supporters are right to suspect that Assange’s final and forced destination, after leaving the embassy, would be America.

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Related

» Why Wikileaks can’t Work, Dec 1, 2010

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Industrial Relations: RFE/RL Job Contracts under Criticism

Prague Daily Monitor, via Kim Andrew Elliot – ČTK, 5 June 2012

Prague, June 4 (CTK) – The Czech Helsinki Committee (CHV) criticised Monday the procedure by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) that, it says, gives job seekers employment contracts with a disadvantageous clause, and Czech courts do not effectively protect the affected employees.

The CHV told CTK Monday that two former employees – Snjezana Pelivan of Croatia and Anna Karapetyan of Armenia have turned to it.

[...]

More there, with updates from June 13 and June 15 on Kim Elliot’s website.

Deutsche Welle‘s Chinese department had some industrial-relations issues of its own in recent years.

The cases in Prague (not from RFE/RL‘s Chinese, but their Croatian and Armenian departments, apparenty) are reportedly being dealt with by the Czech Supreme Court.

According to a report by the Croatian Times, Snjezana Pelivan , formerly employed by RFE/RL’s Croatian service, is taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

I’ll try to get updates about both the RFE/RL, and the cases of Wang Fengbo and Zhu Hong (formerly Deutsche Welle) this or next week.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Obituary: Vaclav Havel, 1936 – 2011

Vaclav Havel,  the playwright, essayist, dissident and politician, died in the night on Sunday, reportedly in his sleep, and tended to by his wife Dagmar, reports Radio Prague.  In another article, Radio Prague describes Havel’s career as a playwright – despite having been barred from formal college humanities education by the Communist regime -, and as a dissident. In the 1990s, he served as Czechoslovakia’s last, and as the Czech Republic’s first president.

Chinese media are only slowly reacting, possibly given the time of day when news about Havel’s death broke, but IFeng (Phoenix, Hong Kong) provides a historical photo timeline, and 163.com republished IFeng’s piece, also today. (As is custom in Chinese, his age is stated as 76 there, counting his day of birth as his first birthday.) There was nothing to be found online on Xinhua Net in Chinese by 15:30 GMT , but Xinhua’s English outlet carries a short news article.

Another short note was available on CNTV, but has apparently since been removed or relocated.

China’s media didn’t seem to have a pre-prepared obituary in store for Havel – and to describe his life is probably a challenge in China. Not only was Havel a dissident – he kept practicing solidarity with dissidents elsewhere, after Czechoslovakia became a free society. In his last public appearance, early last week, he met with the Dalai Lama, who reportedly asked him to live at least another ten years.

Woeser learned about Havel’s death from Twitter, and wrote about her feelings on her blog. From her message to the Czech Republic’s embassy in Beijing [links within added during translation]:

I’m deeply saddened to learn about Mr. Havel’s passing.

惊闻哈维尔先生去世,心里非常难过。

I’m Tibetan, an independent author, and have always seen Mr. Havel as a spiritual guide, feeling uplifted from reading his works.

我是一位藏人,一位独立作家,一直以来,奉哈维尔先生为精神导师,从他的著作中得到精神的提升。

As a Tibetan, I’m deeply grateful for Mr. Havel’s attention for the Tibetan issue and Tibet’s predicament. I remember him saying that only after visiting Tibet and Taiwan, he would visit Beijing. This meaningful line is something we won’t forget.

而且,身为藏人,深深地感激哈维尔先生对于西藏问题、西藏处境的关注。
记得他说过,只有在访问西藏和台湾之后,才会访问北京。这句意味深长的话,我们铭记在心。

Eight days ago, on “World Human Rights Day”, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, arrived in the Czech Republic, on Havel’s invitation. I saw several photos of His Holiness and Mr. Havel on the internet, and I felt deeply moved.

八天前,尊者达赖喇嘛应哈维尔先生的邀请,于“世界人权日”抵达捷克。
我从网上看见尊者达赖喇嘛与哈维尔先生的多张合影,非常感动。

On one of the photos, I saw His Holiness express his deep respect for Mr. Havel,  on a second photo, I saw the deep friendship between the two great men, and seeing the walking stick on the third photo, I felt astonished – I had never thought of him as an old man, or even about his health…

从合影中,一是看到了尊者对哈维尔先生的深深敬意,二是看到了两位伟人之间的深厚情谊,三是看到了哈维尔先生的拐杖而觉得惊讶,一直以为他不老,且健康…

Following Tibetan tradition, I have lighted a memorial candle for Mr. Havel, in front of my household’s Buddhist shrine, and I sincerely pray that he will be born again – this world needs him!

此刻,我以藏人的方式,在佛龛上燃烛悼念哈维尔先生,
并且由衷地祈愿他乘愿再来,这个世界需要他!!

Thank you!
Woeser

谢谢!
唯色(Tsering Woeser)

Beijing, December 18, 2011

I never read Havel’s works, but I did read some of his essays. In the 1980s, probably in a book published by Freimut Duve, I found this essay – in German, that is:

One legacy of that original “correct” understanding is a third peculiarity that makes our systems different from other modern dictatorships: it commands an incomparably more precise, logically structured, generally comprehensible and, in essence, extremely flexible ideology that, in its elaborateness and completeness, is almost a secularized religion. [...]  To wandering humankind it offers an immediately available home: all one has to do is accept it, and suddenly everything becomes clear once more, life takes on new meaning, and all mysteries, unanswered questions, anxiety, and loneliness vanish. Of course, one pays dearly for this low-rent home: the price is abdication of one’ s own reason, conscience, and responsibility, for an essential aspect of this ideology is the consignment of reason and conscience to a higher authority.

I read this when I was a teenager, and it came to my mind right away when I heard of Vaclav Havel’s death, earlier today. I don’t feel in a position to juge if he was one of “Europe’s  great thinkers”, but it doesn’t matter to me anyway. Reading his essay had a profound impact on me. Havel discussed what we might call “abstract” issues in a way even an adolescent like me, lucky enough to live west of the iron curtain back then, would bear in mind, and gradually understand, almost without re-reading.

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Related

Dauernde Vergewaltigung der Gesellschaft, Vaclav Havel, January 1980

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Taiwanese Delegation calls for EU-Taiwan Trade Agreement

A Taiwanese delegation led by deputy minister of economic affairs (MoEA) Sheng-Chung Lin ( Lin Sheng-chung, 林圣忠) attended a discussion or forum at the House of Commons buildings and called for British support for a EU-Taiwanese free-trade agreement which would benefit both the EU and Taiwan. In an interview with the BBC’s Chinese service after the discussion in parliament building, Lin pointed out that such an agreement would not only be beneficial for the EU and Taiwan, but for China, too. There were words of praise for Taiwan’s open-market economy during the discussion, but the BBC report points out that the EU, rather than China, would probably keep the process slow, as all EU member states needed to agree to important EU decisions unanimously. The Taiwanese delegation expressed its hope that Britain could advocate the trade agreement with Taiwan among its fellow EU members.

The European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a free-trade agreement with Taiwan in May this year.

Taiwan News quotes deputy minister Lin as saying that Taiwan has obtained the support of the United Kingdom for its effort to forge an economic cooperation agreement (ECA) with the European Union, and would continue to seek backing from other EU nations in the hope that the trade deal could be signed within two years. Lin had visited the Czech Republic and Ireland before arriving in London.

Radio Taiwan International‘s (RTI) Chinese service quotes from a talk Lin gave to Taiwanese business people who also travelled Britain. He said that Taiwan had won Britain’s support for a EU-Taiwanese ECA (经济合作协议), and pointed out that Taiwan had previously obtained investment opportunities from the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China. He said that the MoEA had held workshops in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark in May this year, to build an atmosphere favorable towards a EU-Taiwanese trade agreement. Lin also referred to the European Parliament’s resolution (see above) in favor of a trade agreement with Taiwan. The sooner an agreement with the EU could be signed, the better, RTI quotes Lin. The Taiwanese government hoped that this would be possible in two years, but a specific time was difficult to forecast.

A free-trade agreement between the United States and South Korea is expected to come into effect in January next year, reports the Taipei Times. Taiwan’s MoEA told Taiwanese companies in certain sectors to brace themselves for the effects of the U.S.-Korean agreement, according to the Taipei Times.

A EU-South Korea free trade agreement took effect on July 1 this year, and Lin Sheng-chung warns that this agreement threatened Taiwan. An Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECA) with the European Union would help protect Taiwan’s interests, RTI’s English service quotes Lin.

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Related

» The Lame leading the Blind, June 3, 2011
» Lee Kuan Yew: Free Trade to Counterbalance China, Jan 25, 2011
» ECFA “a Framework .., without substantial content”, Nov 26, 2010

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Award Chaos: No “Quadriga” for Nobody

“Workshop Germany” (Werkstatt Deutschland), a non-profit organization based in Berlin-Charlottenburg, has an award in store for those who commit themselves successfully to innovation, renewal, and a pioneering spirit through political, economic, and cultural activities – the Quadriga. German and international artists, activists, and quite a number of  politicians, have been laureates since 2003. Of all former German chancellors who are still alive, only Helmut Schmidt has missed out on the prize so far, even though one might argue that both Schmidt and former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing would have deserved the prize for pioneering the European Currency Unit. (Maybe the workshop is waiting for a ready-for-use solution to the current Euro crisis from the two.) José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission’s president, on the other hand, got his Quadriga in 2009. God and the jury may know why.

And Vladimir Putin and the jury may know why Russia’s current prime minister (and former and possibly future president) was one of the chosen people this year. Actually, the jury was kind enough to give us their reasons: to honor Putin’s merits in German-Russian relations’ “reliability and stability”.

The Green party’s co-chairman Cem Özdemir left the jury, protesting against the choice. Several previous laureates either returned their prize, or threatened to do so, among them Former Czechoslovakian and Czech president Vaclav Havel. Most of the German press was negative, too.

Late last week, the workshop decided to cancel the 2011 award altogether. Neither Putin, nor the other laureates-to-be would receive a prize this year, even though the other choices, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa and Turkish-German author Betül Durmaz, were not contested.

Frankly, this year was the first time that I have even heard of the Quadriga prize at all. There are too many prizes to keep track of them, and the European award culture – as far as I’m aware of it, and with the possible exceptions of the Nobel Peace Prize and the EU Parliament’s Sakharov award – has started to look like the kind of “quality” prizes German agricultural associations or folk music trades habitually award within their own mishpokhe, to adorn their own commercials with them later on.

There’s no meaningful prize without a clear set of values behind it.  Business interests are no such values. They may be an honorable motivation for an award, too, but only if they are consistent with an organization’s policy.

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Related
» Article seeks Author, December 29, 2010
» Saxony’s Order of Gratitude Award to Putin, The Guardian, January 16, 2009

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