Czech Centres preparing “whole culture season” for EU presidency

The Czech Republic’s six-month presidency of the EU gets underway in exactly one month’s time. In parallel the country’s international network of Czech Centres will be running a whole host of events in the second half of 2022, with the motto Vision for Europe.

Final preparations are now being made for the Czech Republic’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, which will run from July 1 to the end of the year.

Jan Lipavský | Photo: Office of Czech Government

While Prague will host important summits and other events, the global Czech Centres network will also be extremely active in the latter half of 2022.

The Czech Centres’ plans were presented at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, with the key speaker being Minister Jan Lipavský.

After his address the minister outlined the broader priorities of the Prague government going into the country’s second presidency of the EU since it joined the bloc 18 years ago.

War in Ukraine | Photo: Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY 4.0 DEED

“The main task of our presidency will be covered by five topics, which overarch all the efforts which the Czech Republic will have.

“Of course we have to reflect the current state of Europe and the main geopolitical issues which we are solving right now.

“So it will be energy security, it will be war in Ukraine, it will be the resilience as such.

“And especially in the case of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs we will be putting quite a lot of emphasis on the topic of Ukraine and helping Ukraine to win the war, and helping Ukraine to continue with their European ambitions.”

Tomáš Sacher | Photo: Czech Center Berlin

Getting back to the Czech Centres, the organisation’s broad and diverse programme for the presidency is being coordinated by Tomáš Sacher.

“We have created a whole culture season, we can say, for the Czech EU presidency in the second half of this year.

“Based on 10 projects, we focus on the topics of sustainability, creativity and innovations.

Martin Hilský | Photo: Jiří Nedorost,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 3.0

“We have a kind of motto, which is Visions for Europe.

“So all the projects are focused on the future of Europe.

“And we asked the people who are taking part in them about their visions of Europe.”

The Visions for Europe project involves short videos of personalities, such as Shakespeare translator Martin Hilský, explaining what EU membership means to them.

Other special activities include a run in Brussels on July 2 referencing the legendary Czech athlete Emil Zátopek, organised by the Czech Centre in the Belgian capital.

There are more than two dozen Czech Centres around the world – and they will hold events linked to the EU presidency on an individual but coordinated basis, says Mr. Sacher.

Source:  Czech Centres

“Those 10 projects will go to the whole network of our 26 centres, all around the world.

“Not only in Europe – we also have those projects in our locations in Asia or in America.

“But together with those projects the Czech Centres are creating extra events together with the local embassies of the Czech Republic and with local partners.

“So this is a kind of a basic structure for those six months, and next to it will be another programme created in the country: country specific.”

Photo:  Czech Centres

Minister Jan Lipavský says the cultural centres network will help to highlight the Czech Republic’s important place in Europe while the presidency is ongoing.

“The Czech Centres are cultural centres. They are not about politics but about what makes us human, about our souls, about what we believe in.

“The programme of the Czech Centres – and there are 26 of them around the world – will not be political as such.

Přemysl Pela | Photo:  Czech Center London

“But they will be presenting 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 heads the Czech Centre in London. Brexit puts his team in a specific position, but still they have many plans for the July to January period.

“Of course the accent cannot be as much on the European Union, so we will be more emphasising the common values which we have.

“That might be European values, that might 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 one, which is going to kick off the six-month period, will be an exhibition of two leading Czech artists, David Böhm and Jiří Franta.

Emil Zátopek | Photo: eSbírky,  National Museum in Prague,  CC BY 4.0 DEED

“Also the minister mentioned sports diplomacy – so we are going to follow up on the Zátopek opening in Brussels.

“We’re organising a run in September with one of the oldest athletics clubs in the UK, the Thames Valley Harriers, and we’re going to be fundraising support for Zátopek sporting fellowships.”