Czech Centers are preparing “the whole cultural season” for the EU Presidency
Final preparations are underway for the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which will take place from 1 July until the end of the year.
While Prague will host important summits and other events, the global network of Czech centers will also be extremely active in the second half of 2022.
The plans for the Czech centers were presented to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, with the keynote speaker being Minister Jan Lipavský.
After his speech, the minister outlined the main priorities of the Prague government as it approaches the country’s second EU presidency since joining the bloc 18 years ago.
“The main task of our presidency will be covered by five themes, which encompass all the efforts that the Czech Republic will make.
“Of course, we have to reflect the current state of Europe and the main geopolitical issues that we are solving at the moment.
“So it will be energy security, it will be war in Ukraine, it will be resilience as such.
“And especially in the case of the Foreign Ministry, we will put a lot of emphasis on the subject of Ukraine and we will help Ukraine win the war, and we will help Ukraine pursue its European ambitions.”
Coming back to the Czech centres, the organisation’s large and diverse program for the presidency is coordinated by Tomáš Sacher.
“We have created a whole cultural season, we can say, for the Czech EU Presidency in the second half of this year.
“Based on 10 projects, we focus on the themes of sustainability, creativity and innovations.
“We have a sort of motto, which is Visions for Europe.
“All the projects are therefore geared towards the future of Europe.
“And we asked the people who take part in it about their vision of Europe.”
The Visions for Europe project includes short videos of personalities, such as Shakespeare’s translator Martin Hilský, explaining what EU membership means to them.
Other special activities include a run in Brussels on July 2 referencing legendary Czech athlete Emil Zátopek, organized by the Czech Center in the Belgian capital.
There are more than two dozen Czech centers around the world – and they will organize events related to the EU presidency on an individual but coordinated basis, says Mr Sacher.
“These 10 projects will go to the entire network of our 26 centers, all over the world.
“Not just in Europe – we also have these projects in our locations in Asia or America.
“But alongside these projects, the Czech centers create additional events with local embassies of the Czech Republic and with local partners.
“So it’s kind of a basic structure for these six months, and next to it there will be another program created in the country: country specific.”
Minister Jan Lipavský said that the network of cultural centers will help highlight the important place of the Czech Republic in Europe during the term of the presidency.
“Czech Centers are cultural centres. It’s not about politics but about what makes us human, about our souls, about what we believe in.
“The program of the Czech Centers – and there are 26 in the world – will not be political as such.
“But they will present the Czech Republic as a European country, and Europe as a continent where the Czech Republic plays a leading role, in the second half of this year.”
Přemysl Pela runs the Czech Center in London. Brexit puts his team in a specific position, but they still have many plans for the July-January period.
“Of course, the focus cannot be as much on the European Union, so we will put more emphasis on the common values that we have.
“It could be European values, it could be especially reflections of the military conflict in Ukraine, humanitarian values – but also a lot of collaborations in art and culture as such.
“The first, which will inaugurate the six-month period, will be an exhibition of two leading Czech artists, David Böhm and Jiří Franta.
“The Minister also mentioned sports diplomacy – so we will follow the opening of Zátopek in Brussels.
“We are having a race in September with one of the UK’s oldest athletics clubs, the Thames Valley Harriers, and we will be raising money for the Zátopek Sports Scholarships.”