The seven-day-long event was organised at Arcalia in cooperation between the Institute of Disaster Management of the National University of Public Service and the Faculty of Environmental Science and Engineering at the Babes-Bolyai University.
With participants coming from 5 countries, the topic of the event was the coordination and control of disaster relief teams. Two students represented Hungary. One full-time BA level student and one PhD student as part of his further training. Among the lecturers, NUPS was represented lecturers of the Institute of Disaster Management; Dr. Habil. Ágoston Restás, head of the Department of Fire Protection and Rescue Management, and Dr. Péter Pántya, assistant professor.
The language of the program was in English and it was not about rest at all! Starting early morning, the education finished only after 7 PM each day! The tasks were practice oriented, and following a briefing, each team built its headquarters at a forest clearing. The practiced situational , nonstop 48 hour intervention at a fictional disaster location.
Responsible for organising the training was Prof. dr. Alexandru Ozunu, dean at the Babes Bolyai University, and it took place at the Bethlen castle and its forested park, which is under the management of the Babes-Bolyai University. Dr. Stefanescu Lucrina, researcher and Dr. Zoltán Török also helped in the organisation from Babes-Bolyai. The main trainer and lecturer was Pekka Tiainen disaster management expert from Finland, who has personally worked in numerous disaster relief projects, and Roman Emil also helped his work among the many experts present.
Participating students and lecturers were rewarded for their hard work with certificate of completion worth 4 ETCS points. The consensus among all participants was that despite the tiring workload, the experience was well worth it.
The program is financed by the PADOP 2.1.2. in accordance with the cooperation agreement signed by the two institutes. This summer school is the fourth of its kind held by the National University of Public Service this year.
State and Governance in a Comparative Historical Context is the theme of the course, where 21 students of both the Ruhr-Universität and NUPS. The participants can attend lectures by Dr. Zsuzsanna Peres, associate professor from NUPS’s side, and by Dr. Judit Beke-Martos, director of the International Relations Centre at the Faculty of Law, and the leader of the English language law education from Ruhr-Universität’s side.
The summer school focuses mostly on comparative state and law history, and they also analyse the development of the public service models in Western Europe, Hungary and the United States as well. Historical examples may answer some of the questions of nowadays’ governance issues too. Examples such as the British state model, the French monarchy, and the German states’ state and governance development, the younger, experience-based state model of the Unites States, and the lessons learnt from the public service systems developed based on different social conditions could place the workings of the current Western European, Hungarian and American public service into a different perspective. It is equally vital for future decision makers, public servants and lawyers to know the past, since ensuring a decision making that considers all aspects is only possible this way.
The summer school places special importance on introducing the state and juridical system of the United States, since the program of the summer school is part of the Anglo-American Law & Language certificate program in Bochum. The students of NUPS can take this course as a free to pick and choose English language subject.
The saber attributed to the former defender of the fortress of Szigetvár has been exhibited in the Austrian capital for centuries. After long negotiations and professional consultations the professional delegation from NUPS managed to see and touch the valuable relic. “The weapon which is an accurate replica of its original both in size and in weight was created in 8 months with the help of the delegation (including a photographer, a military historian, a blacksmith and a weapon’s expert), the Hungarian ambassador in Vienna and a military attaché” - said Prof. Dr. József Padányi Eng. Major General, leader of the professional delegation. The Vice-Rector for Science at NUPS added that making a historically accurate replica of the sabre was a management decision. The tradition of PhD graduate students taking an oath before the university symbols greatly influenced this decision. From the beginning of the next academic year PhD graduates will have the opportunity to take an oath before the only Hungarian historically accurate replica of the sabre. József Padányi added that the only difference between the university’s Zrínyi sabre and its original 400-years old version is that the ornaments are not made of precious metal. The Vice-Rector also highlighted that the original sabre was meant to be a decorative weapon: Zrínyi presumably ordered it for a ceremony and never used it in battle. It was also said that during the examination of the weapon, the experts made several interesting discoveries which might fundamentally change the military and artistic concepts of the era. The new scientific discoveries are expected to be published in autumn in the Military history Journal (Hadtörténelmi Közlemények).
Regarding the activity of the military archeologist team József Padányi said that this year several tests were made with professionals who have analyzed, amongst others, the role of a so-called signalling mortar in the contexte of the Zrínyi-Újvár research project. The archaeological exploration of a well situated in the area has already been finished. The experts are now working on how to open it for visitors.
On the 1st of July 2017 Hungary has taken over from Poland the presidency of the Visegrád Group, also called the Visegrád 4 or V4. The main pupose of the Group has changed since its establishment on the 15 February 1991, however in general it aims to represent the Central-European countries’ - namely Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia - economical, diplomatic and political interests and to harmonize eventual futur actions. Although the alliance has not been institutionalized over the last 25 years (i.e. it operates on a strictly an intergovernmental base), but since 1999 following a rotating system, one of the four countries has been elected as president of the Group. Thus, Hungary is now fulfilling this position for the fifth time.
The main priorities (after discussions with the members, focusing primarily on on the current issues within the V4), the level and date of the meetings are all predefined in the presidency programs. The current Hungarian presidency launched the program called V4 Connects which contains the following sections: 1. European Visegrád, 2. Regional Visegrád, 3. Digital Visegrád, 4. Global Visegrád.
The European Visegrád section of the presidency program reflects to the issues the European Union is dealing with, with special attention to the issues occurring within the V4 Group, such as allianceallianceabout the EU’s future, cooperation with European partners, managment of the migration crisis and judicial cooperation.
In the context of the debate over the EU’s future, the program aims to achieve a joint action in the question of “more Europe” vs. “better, stronger Europe”. In this debate, the V4 should aim to vote for the latter, i.e. a “strong Europe of strong nations” Regarding the competitiveness and economical convergence which define the future of EU, the members also elaborate the topics of strengthening the internal market, enhancing R&D and innovation, maintaining cohesion and role of the joint agricultural policies in order to achieve economical convergence in underdeveloped regions In order to manage the European security challenges, the V4 wishes to strengthen the external border defence, duly apply of the Schengen system and they consider the cooperation with Balkan and Eastern European states as priority. According to the program, it is important for the EU to be predictable, and to implement its promises. Thus, the program coordinates the V4 members’ point of views in numerous European questions and it is willing to continue the V4 discussions prior to the debates within the EU institutions. The program also emphasizes the establishment of a common European position in regards to the Brexit negotiations.
The program further highlights the continuation of the consultations with Germany, Austria, Slovenia and the Nordic-Baltic 8 states, the strengthening of the Central European Defence Cooperation. In addition, the V4 considers it important to consult with the UK regarding Brexit and th Romania and Bulgaria regarding the cohesion policy. The Group proposes to extend the latter to Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.
Regarding the responsible management of the migration crisis, the program considers comprehensive response, abolition of migration outside the EU and representation of the common position of the V4s, as well as coordination of positions, cooperation of border police and efficient management of the V4 group’s migration crisis policy.
In the area of judicial cooperation, the program promotes internal stability, legal assistance, protection of victims as well as the support of familes with international issues. For this reason, the Group wishes to organize to high level international conferences.
The Regional Visegrád section of the presidency program has three major areas. The first area includes topics such as relations within the Visegrad Group, parliamentary dimension or the International Visegrad Fund. The second area focuses on the relations with the neighboring regions and the assistance of the West Balkan and Eastern countries. The third area elaborates policy issues such as defence cooperarion, foreign and security policy, non-proliferation, energy policy, energy infrastructure, climate policy, transport policy and infrastructure.
Regarding the relations within the V4 Group, the program seeks to strengthen interparliamentary relations, regional cohesion and cultural diplomacy, to promote common values, to protect national, ethnic and religious minorities and their cultural heritage, to play central role in youth and family policy, nutrition, public health, disability assistance and sports and it wishes to promote cooperation of the V4 public media.
In regards to the Neighbourhood Policy and to the support of the West-Balkan and Eastern partnerships, the Hungarian presidency plans to organize numerous events and high level meetings which would facilitate the European integration of the countries in question and that the issues of these two regions remain on the EU’s agenda.
Regarding the defence cooperation, foreign and security policy and non-proliferation, the Hungarian presidency wishes to continue and deepen the already existing cooperation as the Visegrád Group has already defined a defence cooperation action plan for the period of 2016-2018 and it also has a counterterrorism strategy in place. The key elements in this point are the monitoring of changes, adaptation and - if possible - the strengthening of proactivity.
Similarily to the defence cooperation, the Hungarian presidency also wishes to support the already existing and working initiatives in the field of energy policy and energy infrastructure. The decisive part of this is to strengthen North-South interconnectivity and to support security of supply and market integration efforts, and align the energy and energy infrastructure steps and processes of the V4 with the EU's energy union plans. In the field of climate policy, the coordination of the V4’s and the EU's climate policy, as well as the possible establishment and representation of a joint Visegrád position, is a key objective of the Hungarian presidency.
Regarding the trasport policy and infrastructure, he presidency program covers three main objectives: 1.) strengthening of North-South transport relations 2.) facilitation of national border crossing 3.) establishing a strong relation between transport professionals.
The Digital Visegrád section of the presidency program reflects on the digital possibilities and challenges of the present era. The program elaborates from this perspective the competitiveness of the V4 including specializations, policies (finance, cohesion, agricultural policy, social dimension, economic policy, labor policy, industry, science, technology, innovation, startups, agriculture, environment, water science) and their purposes and endeavor. At this point we would like to highlight only three purposes that we consider to bey a key area. Firstly, a passage of the presidency program states that a workforce having digital expertise is a key element in any digitalization initiative. Secondly, the program phrases that the labor market opportunities of the new generations makes it inevitable for the V4 countries to digitalize their educational system. Thirdly, in order to increase the potential of talent management within the region, the presidency handles as priority the establishment and strengthening of a modern, international high educational sector, the launching of educational and training programs which would enhance the mobility within the V4 Group.
At last, the presidency program’s Global Visegrád section summarizes the V4 priorities in two areas. First is the partnership with states outside of EU: Japan, Korea, USA, African Union, Pacific Community. Second is the promotion of the common cultural, economical and touristic values of the V4 region. The main purpose of this section (the V4 + partnerships and joint international action; tourism and promotion of the region) is to initiate such V4 like events that would facilitate the development of the region’s visibility, economical relations and touristic opportunities.
How do you feel now that the long academic year is over and the summer holiday has begun? Are you happy to go home, or would you like to stay in Hungary?
I have been for one year abroad – in Hungary – so I am not going on any holidays this year. I have mixed feelings about the conclusion of my tenure here. On the one hand, I was and in fact I am still satisfied here in Budapest but on the other hand I am looking forward to meet my family and be home.
How was your experience as an International Chair at the National University of Public Service? What were your expectation and aims when you applied, and did you manage to meet them?
Since the very beginning I knew what to expect because Dr. Boglárka Koller informed me well about even before coming here. For example I knew already what kind of lectures I should hold for the students. Overall, I can say that I had very positive experience. I did not feel myself lost in the new institutions and I also made new contacts and friendships here with the colleagues at the department and with the students of course.
Did you have any professional/academic aims set that you wanted to achieve when you started?
Basically there were two separate things. One was the expectations of NUPS: what should I offer as a teacher and also what my research plans are. I would say I managed to fulfil 70% of my individual research plan so far. On the other hand I had some personal idea about what I would like to develop and focus on. I was reading and writing a lot, I am finalizing a book about the Visegrád Four with an Austrian colleague as co-author. I was also cooperating with colleagues at the faculty, and there will be a lot of follow up activities. I would say that when I officially leave the faculty 31 July, the work together will continue.
And from all those great things you have achieved what is the one thing that you are the most proud of and would like to highlight?
I managed to visit some really good conferences including conferences in the Czech Republic, Korea, Austria and soon I am going to the European Youth Conference in Poland. If I compare this to the previous period, it was a real success and something new in my professional career.
And now from the present, let us go back a bit into the past. Could you tell us a few words about your academic background? What were you researching and doing at your home university before?
I started in 1991 at the Charles University in Prague and studied political science with specific focus on Eastern Europe. After studying one year in Slovenia, I became the new leader of the department of political science in Pilzen where I spent almost 6 years and we developed BA, MA and PhD levels of political science education. Then I was elected for 4 years as a dean at the faculty of art at the same university. After this period I got a new challenge and went to the biggest private university in Czech lands, the Metropolitan University in Prague, I work there nowadays as a vice rector for research. My professional orientation is Central Europe with focus on political development, constitutionalisation, political actors, political culture, but also transdisciplinary studies, contemporary and modern history or transition to democracy. My researches include not only Visegrád Four, but also Slovenia, Croatia, or generally Wester Balkans. Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Russia are however out of my scope.
It seems that your academic role is a bit different in the Czech Republic from here and the International Chair program is also relatively new to us, so what do you feel were the strengths of the program and what could be improved.
As an academic leader this was a great and very useful experience. One of the strength of the program is the good organisation of networking possibilities. During this program you have one year to slowly develop and enlarge your network compared to other shorter conferences. I was meeting the colleagues repeatedly and could discuss sometimes very sensitive issues of Hungarian history or the mutual Central European history, which we very often see differently. Secondly I would like to highlight how useful it was for me to meet the students here. I got the opportunity to talk to Hungarian students and the many international students studying at NUPS and conducted very interesting debates with them. And I would like to also mention the excellent library. Ferenc Gazdag brought me to the Béla Király library at the Hungária Krt.
These are all great positive things to hear, but for the sake of improving the experience of the next International Chair here, what things should be changed or improved?
Together with my family we expected some inconveniences regarding bureaucracy which we experienced several times while living aboard. The most horrible thing for me was that I was not insured for almost 3 months. Based on our experience and discussions, Vice-Rectors Prof.Dr. Norbert Kis and later Dr. Judit Nagy prepared distinctive changes in the Int. Chair agenda and framework. Everyone is in the learning phase now.
How do you rate the work of the International Office?
In the beginning it was a bit difficult because the colleagues at the office changed so much and we sometimes got different information from different people. Later, there was one dedicated person handling all our issues and working with us, and this experience was really great. She was very helpful. Regardless the frequent personnel changes in the office, I had many positive experiences.
You already mentioned that you did not come here alone, but with your whole family. Did you work together with your wife while being here?
She also applied for this position and she also succeeded. She focuses more on international security and international relation. We have been working together for almost 2 decades since 1997, so we cooperated also here in Budapest. We are preparing joint articles based on our research done in Hungary. During working hours we didn’t talk much but naturally, I was really happy to have my wife here both as colleague and as a family member.
Was it somehow different working with her here than in the Czech Republic?
Yes it was a bit different. We have two kids, and the smallest one is really young so we shared the care for her thus we did not meet much. Here, thanks to the excellent nursery system we could spend more time together with my wife in the office.
Let’s talk about Hungary and your Hungarian experiences here. Were there any difficulties you encountered, for example because of the language barrier?
This is not my first time in Hungary so I know that the country is very similar to my home country. Of course the language is very challenging and it is different. Since the beginning we were trying to learn it. We were lucky in the supermarket as the information is often shared in other languages too. It is difficult to buy for example train tickets. But every time I left Hungary, I became more sensitive to such issues in other countries. For example in Czechlands, in the subway, they only say everything in Czech, and in Hungary sometimes they at least say it in English too. So my experience of Hungary is very positive form this point of view too.
We already talked about Czech and Hungarian people, so could you elaborate on that a bit. Do you think that the shared history is visible? How different are the two nations socially?
I would say that we are very similar, but that does not mean that we are the same. There are very important differences. One of them, is that you really feel when talking to Hungarians is the religion. Czechs are strongly atheist, and one could feel in Hungary that this is different. However, there are also some periods when we had really different experiences such as the Interwar years. However after creating independent Slovakia, and losing the common border, I have to say that younger generation does not know that much about Hungary anymore. I come from the city Pilsen and one of the oldest part of the city is name Kossuthka but nobody knows why?
You mentioned that you travelled to many places during this one year period. What other Hungarian towns have you visited and what were your favourite places inside Hungary?
I was in Pécs which I like very much. I was also repeatedly in Debrecen. I really like the puszta but not in summertime. I also went to Szentendre several times. I still have plans to visit Gödöllő and Esztergom. We visited the region north from Vác. This is another face of Hungary, more rural and poorer. But in the Czech Republic we do not have this traditional rural countryside anymore because it was destroyed during the communist era. I haven’t visited Szeged yet and I have to visit it next time, but we did not have so much time for traveling we initially hoped to have.
Talking about Hungarian geography and culture, one must also mention Hungarian cuisine. Do you like Hungarian food? What is your favourite dish and can you make it?
I can cook some dishes that I realized only here that are Hungarians. One of my favourite food is paprikás csirke, this is something that my father was cooking when I was a child and I thought it was a typical Czech dish. I like halászlé as well, and we don’t make it in Czechlands. I know lecsó as well. But there is also one thing that I know and do not like. This is fruit soup. I don’t eat that but my daughter loves it. And I also like töltött káposzta, but from my previous experiences, I think this is more western Balkan dish and Hungarian. Mixed dishes are also very typical for Central Europe.
And as for drinks I naturally like Hungarian wines and pálinka too. My favourite is körtepálinka.
My final question, you seemed to have enjoyed your experience here, so would you like to come back to Hungary, and when will you do so?
Frankly said, I was thinking about applying once again. My wife did and she succeeded. But there are two problems. One is the family and the other one is my job in Prague. Being vice-rector, I cannot imagine that my university would allow me to stay one more year abroad. I had to travel back every two weeks. I was using the night busses and it was exhausting for me. Secondly, our daughter is 10 years old and next year she is going to attend the 5th class in a Czech school. But from this class, you are applying to the entrance to the high school. If she stayed here, it would limit her strongly. If I were alone and without important promises I would apply again. It was a great year, and I am really happy that my wife applied and that she will stay and continue the work here.