"The Czech government - in a similar way to the other governments - received an invitation from the Japanese government asking whether the country would take part in the 2005 EXPO exhibition. And the Japanese government want an answer by the beginning of 2002, so the Czech cabinet discussed it yesterday and decided that yes, the Czech Republic will take part in EXPO 2005."
Of course the last one - EXPO 2000 in the German city of Hanover - was a bit controversial. Some people said the whole thing was just a waste of money, and the Czech Republic just couldn't afford such an extravagant exhibition. How do you see it?
"I don't agree with that criticism. Because if we evaluate the results, if we evaluate the impact the Czech exhibition had in Hanover, and in Germany as a whole, so we can say that the exhibition was successful. And of course the Czech Republic participated in all previous exhibitions with the exception of one, so there is a long tradition. And of course we'd like to be present in Japan as well."
But there were of course other problems. The German organisers got the Czech pavilion mixed up with the Chechnya pavilion in the leaflet, and there was all that fuss about the Czech singer Karel Gott singing at the opening of the pavilion - people said he was a zombie, and it was all over the papers. Isn't there a bit of a risk that something like this can backfire, and it gives people in newspapers, people in the media a chance to poke fun at the government?
"Of course there is always a risk. You can mix up Austria with Australia for instance. If some German typist writes Chechnya instead of the Czech Republic, of course we have to point out that mistake and it has to be corrected. As far as the performance of Karel Gott is concerned, Karel Gott is one of the most popular singers in Germany. If one Czech newspaper says he's a zombie, that doesn't mean that he's not popular in Germany, in fact it reflects the quality of that particular Czech newspaper. He was and he is very successful in Germany."
Indeed. I was lucky enough to visit Expo 2000 in Hanover, and I visited the Czech pavilion. It was very impressive, and it was certainly very popular. But it was looking backwards into the past - there was the miniature version of the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Karlstejn, the icons of the Virgin Mary. Do you have any idea yet what the 2005 pavilion will look like?
"As all other countries, we don't have an idea yet. But if we look at the main theme of the 2005 exhibition, the theme will Beyond Development - Rediscovering Nature's Wisdom. That means the exhibition will be orientated towards nature, so according to the theme we have to prepare our exhibition. But that will be the next step."
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