Book and Old Town Hall exhibition document "Czechs on Threshold of Europe"
An exhibition at Prague's Old Town Hall called "A Portrait of Czech Society on the Threshold of Europe" features portraits by six leading photographers of prominent people in many areas of Czech society. In the book which accompanies the exhibition, all of those featured answer the question "what expectations and hopes does joining the EU hold for you?" Radio Prague put that same question to some of those present at the exhibition opening.
"It is a great honour to be with you for this exhibition today. The exhibition is a tribute to the hopes and the aspirations of all parts and all sections of Czech society."
The Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, at Prague's Old Town Hall last week, opening an exhibition called "A Portrait of Czech Society on the Threshold of Europe". Organised by the group "Yes to Europe", the exhibition features portraits by six leading photographers of prominent people in many areas of Czech society.
The book which accompanies the exhibition carries a foreword by former president Vaclav Havel, and all those featured - including Mr Havel - answer the question "what expectations and hopes does joining the EU hold for you?".
Radio Prague was at the opening and put that very question to some of the people whose photographs were on display, including Leo Pavlat, the director of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
"This is the fulfilment of the wishes of this nation. This is a following up of our membership in NATO. That fact is very important. On the other hand, I must say - especially these days - that I am a bit worried about Europe.
"It seems to me that it started to be blackmailed by totalitarian forces, Islamist forces, and I think it's very dangerous because a united Europe should show strength from the economic point of view but also on the level of ideas and courage."
Simon Panek was a student leader during the Velvet Revolution and is now a director of the aid agency People in Need.
"I expect cultivation of the political culture in the Czech Republic, higher anti-corruption norms, anti-clientelistic way of distribution of public funds.
"Basically I expect that the individual citizen will be - it's a bit of a paradox but I think it's true - entering the EU will strengthen the position of the individual, vis a vis the state, local government, regional government, and that's something we really need, because in the heads of a lot of our leaders is a kind of totalitarian way of thinking, decision making, dealing with the issues.
"Another field is the environment. I expect that the EU environment and ecological norms will push the Czech Republic to follow them and to do more, in this field.
"And the third thing is of course the opening of the EU for the Czechs, especially for the young generation, regarding their studies, travel, work experience, and that's something which is extremely crucial.
"I'm quite optimistic and I'm for sure not afraid of losing anything called a national feeling, which belongs more to the last century than to the next one."
Josef Suk is an internationally famous violinist with quite a family history: his grandfather was the Czech composer Josef Suk, while his great grandfather was Antonin Dvorak, the centenary of whose death is being marked this weekend. Mr Suk was in a hurry, but had time for a few words about EU accession at the exhibition opening.
"It will be a big opportunity for us to show our culture, our republic and of course, for me, to show the world our music."
And finally we spoke to Monika Pajerova from 'Yes to Europe', the organisers of the exhibition. What was she looking forward to about joining the EU?
"As you may know I was the spokesperson for the student movement in '89 here in this country, and one of the first slogans of Civic Forum then was 'Back to Europe'. For me really, it personally meant a goal that we had to achieve.
"The Foreign Ministry had two goals - Nato and European Union, and both are similarly important. So I think it's another chance to start from the beginning, it's another crossroads, it's maybe a new chance given to us by destiny to finish things we haven't finished until now and to start new things that are of worth."