Koudelka in the heart of stones

As if withdrawn from contingencies, it happens, at the twilight of their career, that great photographers want to get away from the hectic pace of everyday life. This is how Don McCullin, an illustrious war reporter absorbed by the rustic landscapes of Somerset, where he lives, or Joel Meyerowitz, tasting the sweetness of Tuscany or scrutinizing objects that belonged to Cézanne.

Arid witnesses

Another octogenarian, the eternal walker Josef Koudelka, has chosen as his favorite theme the (very) old stones. Exit the jolts of the Prague spring or the daily life of the gypsies. The former member of the Union of Czechoslovak Artists, naturalized French in 1987, certainly continued to see the country but, expunged of all human presence, his gaze was only interested in archaeological sites in the Mediterranean basin. From Albania to Turkey, via Bulgaria, Syria, Libya and, of course, Greece, Italy and France, the review thus comprises more than two hundred stages, spread over twenty-six years and hardly fewer countries.

Almost three decades had passed without Paris devoting the slightest exhibition to this historic figure of the Magnum agency, but the anomaly was repaired in 2017, when the Pompidou center paid tribute to “Exils”. And today, it is the BNF which rolls out the carpet at the imposing “Ruins”, a quest about which the co-commissioner Bernard Latarjet assures that he had “Never seen a self-produced campaign of such magnitude, in time and space”. In fact, the foundations appeared in 1996 (“Periplanissis”) and the project was still called “Vestiges” when it was presented, in 2013, at the Musée de la Vieille Charité within the framework of Marseille-Provence, European capital of culture, then at the Pont du Gard (2015) and the Abbey of Jumièges (2017). But the artist, insatiable, has continued to enrich him since. As shown in a short film in the exhibition where we see the compendious old man, walking alone, with his Leica, these sleeping places, arid witnesses of a majesty as antediluvian as it is imprescriptible.

Optimizing chiaroscuro, the hanging encompasses 110 prints in contrasting black and white in panoramic format, espoused by Josef Koudelka in the mid-1980s to freeze the otherwise laborious reality of French industrial sites in Lorraine and the North. Thought like “A game of reinvention and rediscovery” through a “Mise en abyme de la exploration”, the scenography alternates large formats suspended in a large central space and smaller ones in low windows. So that at the time of the sanitary signage, we wander freely in this airy maze and devoid of any indication, except for an inviting number, to geolocate the sites photographed, to consult a booklet or to refer to a large map mural retracing the route.

Fragments

Columns, aqueducts, temples, theaters, statues, cisterns, villas, tetrapyles, etc. form a dense inventory, conducive, depending on the state of conservation, to a contemplative reading, sometimes literal, when the geometry has not been too upset, sometimes abstract (cf. the mosaic of a spa room), even surreal, like the fingers of a colossal statue seeming to come out of the earth to grab the rockery.

As sensitive to overall views as to fragments, Koudelka sings a song in this way (from Ruins) elegiac, illustrating Petrarch’s excipit: “Little by little the ruins themselves will become nothing more than the eloquent memorial of the greatness of the ancients.”

Gilles Renault

Ruins of Josef Koudelka at the BNF (75013) until December 16. Rens. : Bnf.fr

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Corona wave in the Czech Republic (neue-deutschland.de)

The opposition fears that the Czech Republic is threatened with a new lockdown. Because on Saturday, the health authorities recorded a record increase in new corona infections – 1541 cases were reported. The number is also worrying because there is less testing on weekends than on weekdays.

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said he did not expect these numbers. According to the current Corona traffic light, five circles around the capital have been set to the second highest warning level orange. In the wider area, the traffic light lights up green. However, this is not a reason to calm down, but the attention level: Warning, Covid-19-endangered region! Only a few districts in the north and east of the republic are not covered by any warning level.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Czech government reacted quickly and adopted drastic hygiene measures. The number of infections was at a relatively low level compared to neighboring countries. Since March, 38,900 people have contracted Covid-19, only 476 succumbed to the disease. 14,600 are currently infected, 297 patients have to be treated in hospitals, 69 of them are in critical condition. It was mainly holiday returnees who brought the virus back into the country.

The government must now accept the allegation that the easing measures, which came into force on August 19, were adopted too early. There is fear everywhere that drastic measures will have to be taken again and a second lockdown is imminent. It is said that this would catapult the economy into a desolate state.

It is noticeable that the Prague government disagrees on how to deal with the new situation. While Minister Vojtěch and his party and government leader Andrej Babiš are taking a wait-and-see position and do not want to worry the (electoral) people, politicians from both the opposition and the coalition social-democratic ČSSD declare that we have to act quickly and clearly. Culture Minister Lubomir Zaoralek and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček would like to convene a crisis team again, which can order binding measures to control the pandemic. Hamáček would head such a staff and could thus have a strong influence on current politics. An important factor in view of the district elections starting at the end of the month. The Social Democrats, who lost seven districts in 2016, six of them to the right-wing populist ANO, which ruled Prague, want to regain their former strength in the republic.

The opposition accuses the government of inaction and ineptitude. “She quarantined us all in March, it cost a lot of money. But then they let the reins slip, the prime minister is responsible, «says Miroslav Kalousek, head of the conservative TOP09. He had the impression that the government was not adequately prepared for what was to come. “There are too few staff and too few test capacities,” said the former Minister of Economic Affairs.

But the Babiš administration remains passive. Health Minister Vojtěch last convened the Central Epidemic Commission on May 15 and then sent it into the summer break, although he now called it a “key platform” in view of the newly increasing numbers. The head of government himself is trying to downplay the situation, it just needs discipline and less fear-mongering, he announced, after all, no one has died of Corona in the past two days.

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These are the risk areas in Europe

Due to the increasing number of cases in the corona pandemic, the Robert Koch Institute classifies several places and cities as risk areas. If you still travel there, you have to pay for the test yourself when you return.

Due to the increased number of new corona infections, the German federal government has declared several areas to be risk areas and issued a corresponding travel warning. The federally owned Robert Koch Institute (RKI) published an updated list of corona risk areas on Wednesday, in which Vienna is now also listed as the only risk area in Austria. “Due to the high number of infections, there are currently warnings against unnecessary, tourist trips to the federal state of Vienna,” said the Foreign Office in Berlin.

For German vacationers, returning from an area with a travel warning means a mandatory corona test and quarantine at home until a negative test result is available.

A travel warning is not a ban, but is intended to have a significant deterrent effect. However, it also has a positive side for consumers: it enables travelers to cancel package tour bookings free of charge.

The following new travel warnings apply:

France: The travel warning was extended to the Hauts-de-France region in the far north of the French Republic and the overseas territory of La Réunion. The regions of Île-de-France with the capital Paris, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Occitanie, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, the Mediterranean island of Corsica and other overseas regions were previously considered risk areas

Netherlands: Travel warning for the provinces of North and South Holland.

Switzerland: Extension of the travel warning to the canton of Friborg. This previously applied to the cantons of Geneva and Vaud.

Croatia: Extension of the travel warning to the counties Brod-Posavina and Virovitica-Podravina, after five other regions were already considered to be risk areas.

Czech Republic: A travel warning now also applies to the Central Bohemian region around the capital Prague, which has been a risk area for around a week.

Hungary: Travel warning for the capital Budapest.

Also for other regions in Romania Travel warnings were issued and warnings against traveling to two regions were lifted.

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Red pen on returns (neue-deutschland.de)

840 mostly female employees at the Otto Group’s returns center in Hamburg had given up part of their low salary since 2006 in order to keep their jobs. But the mail order company plans to close it in the coming year.

The group management argues with the rising costs caused by the mass return of ordered goods by customers. If they are not satisfied, they can send the ordered goods back at the logistics company’s expense. The decision-makers are hoping for financial advantages from the relocation of the subsidiary Hermes Fulfillment to Lodz in Poland and Plzen in the Czech Republic thanks to the significantly lower wages there. Competitors Amazon and Zalando also use low-wage countries in the east to process cost-intensive returns there. The 840 employees of the return center pay the bill. As a semi-skilled they are left with nothing.

“The planned relocation to Poland and the Czech Republic is a scandal, especially when measured against the high moral standards that Otto postulates,” explains Heike Lattekamp, ​​Regional Head of Retail at Verdi in Hamburg. By referring to the lower labor costs in Poland and the Czech Republic, »the company sets in motion a wage spiral that is leading downwards. The relocation is also nonsensical from an ecological point of view, because the returns are driven through half of Europe, cost time and transport capacity, and pollute the highways and the environment. These costs are passed on to the general public, ”Lattekamp criticizes. Otherwise Otto advertises with high ethical standards, especially with regard to ecological standards.

Chairman of the Supervisory Board Michael Otto (77), son of the company’s founder Werner Otto, who died in 2011, is considered a benefactor with ecological awareness in the Hanseatic city. In 1993 he founded the Michael Otto Foundation for Environmental Protection, in 2013 he was made an honorary citizen of the city and in 2018 an honorary professor. He was represented in numerous bodies such as the environmental foundation WWF Germany.

The company (annual turnover 14.3 billion euros; around 52,000 employees), which was once founded as a mail order company, but now operates in numerous business areas, justifies the relocation of the returns center with the cost pressure: »With increasing sales of the Otto Group’s trading companies, it also increases the volume of returns. Therefore, this cost pool is becoming more and more significant and ultimately led to the planning decision that has now been made. ”

Left-wing MP Olga Fritzsche criticizes this decision: “Even if it should be cheaper in Poland or the Czech Republic, profit must not be the only parameter for a responsible company. What about the 840 jobs in these difficult times? In my opinion, the Otto Group is not living up to its responsibility in any way. «She calls on the SPD / Green Senate to work to keep jobs.

The employees of Hermes Fulfillment have waived up to twelve percent of their collective wage since 2006 because they trusted that the location would be preserved, explains unionist Heike Lattekamp. »The Hermes colleagues earn around 13 euros an hour, which is not exactly a lot. Even with full-time employment, this leads to long-term poverty in old age. “The company claims” that all alternatives have been examined. We doubt that. ”

Verdi wants to continue to support the workforce’s fight to keep their jobs. On Monday there was a rally on the company premises in Hamburg-Bramfeld. Regarding the chances of success of the fight, Lattekamp explains: “Whoever fights can win; who does not fight has already lost. For example, we succeeded in preventing a Karstadt / Kaufhof branch from being closed in Hamburg. And we’re currently fighting to save another branch. ”

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An immunologist named products that will help improve immunity in the fall

An immunologist named products that will help improve immunity in the fall

Photo: Svetlana MAKOVEEVA

Nutritionist, allergist-immunologist Marina Apletaeva explained what foods should be eaten to improve immunity in the fall season. They will help protect the body from seasonal illness and avoid serious problems.

Beta-carotene plays a key role in this issue.

– You need to try to add rich orange foods to the diet. Yellow-orange vegetables, fruits: peaches, apricots, yellow plums inside, pumpkin, carrots, melon, says the RT doctor.

These vegetables and fruits are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. It will help protect the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract from viruses.

– Bacteria and viruses will enter the body much less frequently. But drinking tea with vitamin A is not worth it, it can be toxic, the expert concluded.

In addition to bright foods, this vitamin is found in dairy products, but they should be consumed in moderation due to their high fat content. In addition, this useful element has the property of being stored in the body, and at the right time to go for protection.

Vitamin C is equally important – it is the main buffer.

– But its reserve is difficult to make, but it is very useful: it affects cellular immunity, protects the body from damage, it is considered a good oxidant, – concluded the immunologist.

The advice is very relevant against the backdrop of the approaching autumn season of colds. This year, the situation will be complicated by the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus. The peak incidence of COVID-19 in European countries fell on September 12. According to WHO statistics, 55.1 thousand cases were then recorded. On the same day, Austria and the Czech Republic announced the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic, the newspaper Izvestia writes.

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Corona numbers and cards: 948 new infections registered in Germany

IAccording to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the health authorities in Germany have within a day from early Sunday morning 948 new corona infections reported. However, these numbers are not very meaningful with regard to the actual infection process – experience has shown that the number of cases reported is often lower on Sundays because not all health authorities transmit data to the RKI on the weekend.

Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, at least 259.428 People in Germany have been proven to be infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus (data as of September 13, 12.00 a.m.). According to the RKI, the number of deaths in connection with a corona infection is included 9349. Two more deaths have been reported since the previous day. Until Sunday morning had about 231.400 People survived the infection according to RKI estimates.

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The reproduction number, in short R value, according to RKI estimates in Germany, according to a statement on Saturday 1,15 (Previous day: 1.00). This means that one infected person infects a little more than one other person on average. The R-value depicts the infection rate about one and a half weeks beforehand.

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In addition, the RKI gives a so-called in its current management report Seven-day R. on. The value relates to a longer period and is therefore less subject to daily fluctuations. According to RKI estimates, this value was at 1,16 (Previous day: 1.11). It shows the infection process from eight to 16 days ago.

Case numbers in Garmisch-Partenkirchen increased dramatically

In the Upper Bavarian resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the number of corona cases has skyrocketed. The so-called seven-day incidence (number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants within one week) exceeded the critical mark of in the district 50. In the past week there were “visits by highly infected people to several restaurants,” said the district office.

Numerous follow-up infections are feared, the contacts of the infected people could no longer all be traced. The authority issued contact restrictions for restaurants and private events. The majority of the new infections go back to an infected young woman, said a spokesman for the district of the “Bild” newspaper: “Because she thought she had to enjoy herself despite the symptoms.”

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According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of infected people worldwide rose to more than 28.6 million. Most of the cases were in the USA reported (over 6.4 million), followed by If (over 4.6 million) and Brazil (over 4.3 million). At least 919.081 People have died worldwide as a result of an infection.

The increase in registered new infections with the coronavirus is in Austria on Saturday after another jump as high as last at the end of March. The authorities reported 869 new cases since the previous day on Saturday, after a record increase of 664 new infections was last reached on Thursday. A week ago, the numbers were mostly around 300 to 400 new cases a day.

The number of Covid patients treated in the hospital is still well below the values ​​in spring, but rose by around a third within a week. On Saturday, 209 infected people were in the hospital, 42 of them in the intensive care unit.

In total, over 5300 people are now considered sick nationwide, more than 3000 of them in the capital Vienna. There it is emphasized, however, that the values ​​are difficult to compare with March. Unlike then, systematic testing of all contact persons would also detect many sick people who showed no symptoms, said a spokesman for the health council of the Austrian news agency APA.

In Spain is the number of daily new Corona infections on Friday to the record value of 12.183 gone up. It is the highest increase within a day since the beginning of the pandemic, wrote the newspaper “El País”. The Ministry of Health announced that it was 4708 positive test results in the past 24 hours and reported cases. In the past 14 days, a total of 112,364 new infections were registered, which is an average of good 8000 per day. The Robert Koch Institute has long classified Spain as a corona risk area. The Foreign Office warns against traveling to the popular holiday destination.

While the number of infections continued to rise, far fewer people died in connection with the coronavirus than at the height of the pandemic. The ministry said that 48 people had died with Covid-19 since the previous day. The number of corona deaths in Spain increased to a total 29.747. In April there were almost 1,000 corona deaths within 24 hours on some days.

Spain now has more than 566.000 Corona infections – more than any other Western European country. There are numerous restrictions in the public and private sectors. Nightlife is severely restricted across Spain. Masks are required everywhere – even outdoors. Areas particularly affected have been cordoned off, such as a working-class district of Palma de Mallorca.

In France the number of new infections rises to more than 10,000 for the first time. The authorities announced on Saturday that there were 10,561 new cases within 24 hours. The highest number so far was on Thursday with 9,843. The rise had led the government to impose further restrictions. The number of deaths in clinics and care facilities increases by 17 to 30,910.

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The number of new virus victims in the daily USA stays high. According to the CDC, there were 46,046 new infections within 24 hours. This increased their number to just under 6.43 million. There were also 1,035 other deaths, the total number adds up to 192,388. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) numbers do not necessarily reflect the data that individual states report.

In If According to an investigation, millions of coronavirus cases could not have been discovered at the beginning of the year. According to the study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, there were an estimated May in the country 6.5 million Cases. According to official figures from the Ministry of Health, it was less than 200,000. The Ministry of Health reported another daily record on Friday 96.551 new cases, bringing the official total number of infections to 4.5 million.

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You can follow all current and worldwide developments regarding the coronavirus in our live ticker.

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Corona: R value in Germany rises to 1.0 – Spain reports record increase in infections

In Russia the number of corona deaths increased by 119 to 18,484 within one day. The authorities also confirmed 5,488 new infections, with a total of 1,057,362 cases known. With these well over one million cases, Russia follows the USA with over 6.4 million and India and Brazil with more than four million cases each.

The health authorities in Germany have within a day 1630 New corona infections reported. Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, at least 258,480 people in Germany have been proven to have been infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus, as the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on its website on Saturday (data as of September 12, 12.00 a.m.). The number of deaths related to a corona infection is at 9347. That is five more than the day before. According to RKI estimates, around 231,400 people had survived the infection by Saturday morning.

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For the first time since June, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recorded the number on a weekly basis Corona-Tests removed again. The week from August 31 to September 6 was therefore good a million Tests counted – about 50,000 fewer than the previous week. It is the first time since the week of June 22-28 that the number of tests has decreased again.

The reproduction number, in short R value, according to RKI estimates in Germany, according to a statement on Friday 1,00 (Previous day: 0.9). This means that an infected person infects another person on average. The R-value depicts the infection rate about one and a half weeks beforehand.

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In addition, the RKI gives a so-called in its current management report Seven-day R. on. The value relates to a longer period and is therefore less subject to daily fluctuations. According to RKI estimates, this value was 1.11 (previous day: 1.04). It shows the infection process from eight to 16 days ago.

Case numbers in Garmisch-Partenkirchen increased dramatically

In the Upper Bavarian resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the number of corona cases has skyrocketed. The so-called seven-day incidence (number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants within one week) exceeded the critical mark of in the district 50. In the past week there were “visits by highly infected people in several restaurants,” said the district office. Numerous follow-up infections are feared, the contacts of the infected people could no longer all be traced. The authority issued contact restrictions for restaurants and private events. The majority of the new infections go back to an infected young woman, said a spokesman for the district of the “Bild” newspaper: “Because, despite the symptoms, she thought she had to have fun.”

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According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of infected people worldwide rose to more than 28.2 million. Most of the cases were in the USA reported (just under 6.4 million), followed by If (over 4.5 million) and Brazil (over 4.2 million). At least 911.200 People around the world have died as a result of infection.

In Spain is the number of daily new Corona infections on Friday to the record value of 12.183 gone up. It is the highest increase within a day since the beginning of the pandemic, wrote the newspaper “El País”. The Ministry of Health announced that it was 4708 positive test results in the past 24 hours and reported cases. In the past 14 days, a total of 112,364 new infections were registered, which is an average of good 8000 per day. The Robert Koch Institute has long classified Spain as a corona risk area. The Foreign Office warns against traveling to the popular holiday destination.

While the number of infections continued to rise, far fewer people died in connection with the coronavirus than at the height of the pandemic. The ministry said that 48 people had died with Covid-19 since the previous day. The number of corona deaths in Spain increased to a total 29.747. In April there were almost 1,000 corona deaths within 24 hours on some days.

Spain now has more than 566.000 Corona infections – more than any other Western European country. There are numerous restrictions in the public and private sectors. Nightlife is severely limited across Spain. Masks are required everywhere – even outdoors. Areas particularly affected have been cordoned off, such as a working-class district of Palma de Mallorca.

France reports almost 10,000 new infections in 24 hours

France reported the record number of almost 10,000 new infections within 24 hours on Thursday evening. There were 9843 new infections recorded. This is the highest number in France since the pandemic began. It was on Friday 9400.

This brings the total to 363,350. 40 more people who tested positive died. In total, there are now 30,893 deaths. Most recently, the tests were significantly expanded to include the virus. There were a million tests within a week 48.542 Infections detected.

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Czech Republic detected 1382 new corona infections within one day. The figure reported by the Ministry of Health on Friday for the previous day was the second record this week. More than 1,160 new cases had been identified on the previous two days.

Due to the increase, the Czech Republic has reintroduced the requirement to wear masks indoors. In total, the country has so far registered 32,413 corona cases and 448 deaths.

The Philippines report 4040 new coronavirus infections, most of them for twelve days. The number of detected infections rose to 252,964, according to the Ministry of Health. The number of deaths rose by 42 to 4108. The island nation is hardest hit by the pandemic in Southeast Asia.

On Friday were in Austria 580 new cases reported, the day before there were 664. Two weeks ago the number of new infections every day was about half as high. Almost 5000 people are considered sick, more than half of them in Wien.

In the USA are within 24 hours 37.451 New infections have been registered. Overall, that would have been 6,381 Millions of people have been proven to be infected with the corona virus, according to the CDC. The death toll rose by 1091 to 191,353. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) numbers do not necessarily reflect the data that individual states report.

In If According to an investigation, millions of coronavirus cases could not have been discovered at the beginning of the year. According to the study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, there were an estimated May in the country 6.5 million Cases. According to official figures from the Ministry of Health, it was less than 200,000. The Ministry of Health reported another daily record on Friday 96.551 new cases, bringing the official total number of infections to 4.5 million.

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Brazil reports 43.718 New infections. This increases the total number of infections 4.28 million. The number of deaths went down within 24 hours 874 on 130.396 to.

In Great Britain are in 3539 (Previous day: 2919) new cases people have tested positive for the coronavirus. Six other people died who tested positive. According to current statistics, the number of new positive tests is increasing in all parts of England.

You can follow all current and worldwide developments regarding the coronavirus in our live ticker.

Do you have any questions about the coronavirus? Here you will find the most important facts and information.

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Crisis in Bulgaria: The EU is threatened with a second Hungary

Eeggs, tomatoes and pickled vegetables. When a head of government tells his citizens via social media that they would be happy to throw all of this at him if they just left the intersections open for rush hour traffic, then there are two options: Either the man is completely removed. Or he believes in the reconciling power of his humor.

The announcement comes from Boiko Borissow, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, these days. Unlike what it sounds like, the situation is serious. On Wednesday demonstrators in Sofia again called for his resignation, at least 55 were injured, according to official figures, 95 were arrested. You accuse his bourgeois nationalist government of nepotism with oligarchs. In addition, Borisov wants to further restrict the control of the judiciary and the separation of powers with a constitutional reform. Even his own president, Rumen Radew, in a speech to parliament, demanded that Borissov and his entire cabinet resign. “We have no other way out of this loss of trust.”

People in Brussels look to Bulgaria with concern. Is a second Hungary emerging here? After joining the EU, Viktor Orbán’s country gradually restricted the free media, judiciary and opposition. The result: an EU country into which money flows from Brussels, sometimes without any control.

Eggs are pelted at police officers in Sofia

“We have to take a closer look at Bulgaria,” said MEP and corruption expert Daniel Freund (Greens) in an interview with WELT. “Unlike Hungary, Bulgaria behaves more inconspicuously and therefore more skillfully.” Jens Geier, chairman of the European SPD, warns: “We are threatened by several Hungarians in the European Union because governments in states such as Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic currently have heads of government. who show little willingness to subordinate themselves to European decisions ”. In part, they would “develop a great imagination in order to channel EU payments into their own pockets”.

Bulgaria’s citizens have been calling for reforms for years. And for years the same man has come back to power after the resignations of governments: Boiko Borisov. It is undoubtedly his talent for humor that keeps the beefy 61-year-old winning elections. Borissov learned politics in the communist cadre schools, but has mastered the iconic, popular appearance.

For years he was the oldest professional soccer player in the country for the second division FC Witoscha Bistritsa – and was celebrated for it. He likes to send well-watched live videos on Facebook. Most recently at the wheel of a car on the highway. Borissov rejected the resignation demands against him on Thursday.

Opposition politicians in the rubber dinghy

“This man can talk to construction workers on the street just as well as he can with important state guests from the EU,” political scientist Dimitar Bechew told WELT. Bechew was born in Sofia and conducts research worldwide on the role and development of post-Soviet states, including for the Vienna think tank Institute for Human Sciences. He sees similarities, but also differences in the development of Bulgaria compared to Hungary. “Borisov is less powerful than Orbán. Who really rules is the cartel of oligarchs and political incumbents. “

The latest protests a few weeks ago sparked off a scene with symbolic power. The opposition politician Christo Ivanov landed in a rubber dinghy on a public beach near Burgas on the Black Sea. The controversial politician Ahmed Dogan, who is also said to be close to oligarchs, has his property there.

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The public beach there is screened by state security forces. Videos show how the security forces evacuate the opposition politician. “The incident pinpointed the misuse of government resources,” says Bechew. He describes a vicious circle. Oligarchs would pull the strings in the government. The judiciary is not independent; instead, Attorney General Ivan Geschew is pursuing political opponents. Independent media? Largely turned off. “Only that, unlike in Hungary, there is no decline in the rule of law, but the situation has always been like that,” says Bechew.

A nearly closed system that is supported by EU funds. As early as 2014, citizens in Bulgaria demonstrated against the theft of their land. At that time it was still the urban, pro-Western middle class that took to the streets, says Bechew – because the socialists were still in power with Prime Minister Borisov.

He resigned at the time because of allegations of corruption. But he was re-elected in an entertaining campaign, under close EU scrutiny. Bizarrely, with the mandate to finally get corruption under control. Since 2017, the socialists have no longer ruled, but right-wing national parties. An unusual alliance of pro-Western supporters and post-Soviet nostalgics is now demonstrating across the country. This shows that the head of government is not interested in national ideology, said Bechew. “He follows the money pragmatically.”

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This is evident at the EU level. While Hungary is vocalizing its positions in Brussels, seeing itself as a spokesman against migration and for national independence, Bulgaria is acting cautiously. Sofia plays elegantly on the big stage in Brussels. SPD politician Geier also warns of this: For years the Bulgarian government wanted to avoid EU control of its failure to comply with the rule of law. Borissov is “very keen to demonstrate his loyalty on the European stage to Merkel and the European People’s Party”.

The Greens MP Freund has set up a cross-party working group against corruption. Many countries are in view: Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland. “Back then, when Bulgaria was admitted, Brussels was hoping for further progress in the rule of law that would result from the opening of the country,” says Freund. That did not come true. “Rather, EU funds stabilize the corrupt system.”

Recently, the leaders of the EU Parliament sent a fire letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (available to WELT). The appeal: It should no longer be allowed for EU funds to be paid out to governments without compliance with provisions for democracy and the rule of law. In the case of Bulgaria, the EU MPs are now hoping for the EU report on the rule of law of the member states expected for this month – and for the corresponding consequences for Brussels.

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Weber on Corona billion package

One hope: Unlike Hungary, Bulgaria has submitted to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which will in future be allowed to investigate fraud in the use of EU funds in the member states. With the distribution of the 750 billion aid fund for the Corona crisis alone, the department should face major tasks.

The management is taken over by the corruption specialist Laura Kövesi, who has already “cleaned up pretty much” in Romania and apparently became so uncomfortable there that she was fired, says Freund. “In view of the big task, the department is still far too small in terms of staff.”

All of this is a toxic mixture for the Bulgarian economy. Although the auto parts supply industry has great potential, as does the emerging IT sector, says political scientist Bechew. Unlike the politicians in Brussels, he believes that Bulgaria can only free itself from this misery: “The entire political culture must change.”

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Pavel Fischer and Vaclav Havel, inspiration in politics

For Pavel Fischer, Vaclav Havel was first of all a “Idea” : that of“A freedom that dared to say its name, to face the system”, carried by a playwright and dissident whose texts, printed abroad, circulated only under the cloak. Then he became a “Voice”, when after his second stay in prison, the signatory of Charter 77, a vibrant manifesto in favor of human rights, resumed speaking on Radio Free Europe.

But it was not until the very end of 1989, amid the effervescence of the fall of the Berlin Wall and thanks to television, that Vaclav Havel appeared to the Czechoslovaks under “His physical existence”. That of a man “Neither very large nor very impressive”, remembers Pavel Fischer, almost “Shy”, able to gather around him the most diverse personalities, and especially gifted, when animated, with one “Great authority”. “Like theater people, he had the strength to speak. He knew how to calm conflicts. This is how he emerged as a key spokesperson for the “velvet revolution”, when crowds began chanting his name. “

→ THE BIG ENCOUNTERS. Catherine Chalier and Emmanuel Levinas, an intellectual friendship between Athens and Jerusalem

At that time, Pavel Fischer was 24 years old. He has just completed his studies in French civilization and Czech literature and is starting to teach. A convinced Catholic, passionate about the social doctrine of the Church, he reflects on the best way to “Engage in public space”. During the dark years, it was supported by visits from the Taizé brothers and prayer vigils organized by the Kaplan family, friends of the community and fervent defenders of religious freedom and conscience. And it was since the Taizé meeting in Wroclaw (Poland), in which he participated with thousands of young Europeans, that he learned, on December 29, 1989, of the election of Vaclav Havel as “Interim president” from Czechoslovakia …

An ever closer collaboration

“The interim lasted thirteen years”, used to joke the former tenant of Prague Castle, seat of the Czechoslovak then Czech presidency, until 2003. After a few detours, Pavel Fischer agrees to join him there, starting an ever closer collaboration: d ‘ initially responsible for communication, he quickly became deputy spokesperson and even head of political affairs, a sort of secretary general of the presidency. A position of trust if there is one.

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In these founding years for the very young Czech Republic, now separated from Slovakia, the young civil servant observed his “boss” anchoring his country ever more firmly in the West. The Czech Republic applied for entry into the European Union in January 1996 and became a member of NATO in 1999. He entered politics almost in spite of himself and “Still grateful not to have the training for this”, Vaclav Havel amazes his young collaborator with his constantly arousing curiosity, his ability to “Pick up items from a file and bring up a question you hadn’t thought of”.

“Vaclav Havel was someone who did not impose himself physically but intellectually, reflects Pavel Fischer. When we had heated discussions between us, he observed us, amused, as if we were inspiring him to the dialogues of his next piece. “ His obsession with not being locked into a suit that is too tight often gives his team a hard time: during each official trip, he must be found “The bistro or the inn” where he can soak up the local atmosphere and taste some specialties.

Depth and simplicity

Deeply independent, refusing all political and religious labels, Vaclav Havel wants to understand all the points of view involved, even the most opposed, not hesitating – on the eve of a session of the World Bank which promises to be stormy – to reunite “Bankers and anti-globalization activists” for an improbable evening of celebration at the castle … “How many times has he also impressed me with the depth and simplicity of language with which he dealt with spiritual matters?, recalls Pavel Fischer. In Hiroshima, where he visited in 1995, when Olga, his first wife, with cancer, was about to die, I was overwhelmed by his words about death, hope in the hereafter. “

→ PORTRAIT. Vaclav Havel, craftsman of a theater of consciousness

Eight years of daily and intense collaboration allow him to also discover its weaknesses. “Came to power without the support of any party or movement”, Vaclav Havel is forced to make alliances, “Sometimes difficult to maintain over time”. His remarriage to a young actress, shortly after the death of his first wife, is criticized, as are his efforts to recover his family’s assets looted by the Communist regime. “I don’t want to beatify him, the vagaries of his personal life are well known”, smooth Pavel Fischer. “He himself has always refused to have a statue erected. Every time we tried to build something symbolic, he systematically messed it up: I think it was basically unbearable for him. “

In 2003, when at the end of his second term, the playwright president gave way to his former head of government Vaclav Klaus, a fierce opponent of the world according to Havel, another adventure began. “The joy of having achieved something for the country, without a false note”, mingles with “Relief, to a feeling almost of deliverance”. “After so many years of sharing our views on the affairs of the country and the world, I felt that I had to find myself, that I feed on other influences”, recognizes Pavel Fischer. “And it took me a long time. “

The years of emancipation

What words to choose to describe this new link? After the years of“Osmosis”, those of “Emancipation”. The “Inventory right”, on the other hand, very little for him. “Critical and well-documented work would be necessary today to bring out the coherence in the work of Vaclav Havel”, he believes. But he leaves that to others. His project is more ambitious: “Remain faithful, and become autonomous again”.

While his former boss rediscovers the joys of writing, Pavel Fischer takes over the management of Paris, with his wife and their four children, the eldest of whom with multiple disabilities requires special care. He is ambassador there, a position which allows him to observe his country with hindsight and to feed his taste for music, literature, and to reflect on his own. “Political and social project”.

→ READ. Pavel Fischer, at the school of Vaclav Havel.

The old question of his vocation as a Christian in society, at the service of his country, is still there. Even more so when, a few years later, he decided to resign from the public service to support the end of his eldest son’s life. After overcoming this “Copernican upheaval” family life, the former counselor then clearly feels the desire to “To launch into politics” in turn. And to stand as a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic in the 2018 elections.

Explaining what separates his project from that of his former mentor is difficult for him. One thing is certain: it does not claim to be the“Heir”. “Vaclav Havel lived in a pivotal period: there is no point in reinventing what he created”, he emphasizes. “It is not a miraculous medal either. Rather a backdrop that helps and inspires me. “ On the other hand, he enjoys scrutinizing the way in which some claim it, not without ” false note “. He especially remembers his teasing towards him: “Ah, you will see, when Mr. Fischer is president …”

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Pavel Fischer

1965. Born in Prague.

1983. Admitted in French Civilization and Czech Literature at Charles University, Prague.

1990. Studied the social doctrine of the Church in Geneva (Switzerland).

1991. Becomes private secretary to the auxiliary bishop of Prague, then joins the communication institute founded by Cardinal Vlk.

1995. Joined Vaclav Havel’s cabinet, first as communications officer, then as deputy spokesperson and finally as head of political affairs between 1999 and 2003.

2003. Ambassador to France.

2010. Political Director of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

2013. Resigns from the public service.

2018. Runs in the presidential elections (he obtains 10.23% of the vote) then senatorial. Elected senator from Prague, he chairs the committee on foreign affairs, defense and security.

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Vaclav Havel

1936. Born in Prague.

1948. When the Communists came to power, his family – accused of having collaborated with the Nazis – was dispossessed of their property.

1951. Considered as a “class enemy”, he cannot enter university to study cinema.

1963. His first play, La Fête en plein air, is performed. But very quickly his works were censored.

1is January 1977. Co-signatory of the Charter 77 manifesto, asking the government to respect its democratic commitments.

Between 1977 and 1989. Spends three times in prison.

1989. Thanks to the “velvet revolution”, is elected interim president of Czechoslovakia.

1993. Elected President of the Czech Republic, re-elected in 1998.

2003. Leave power and start writing again.

2011. Dies in his country house in Hradecek.

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