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Funny as a Slovak

THE RESULTS of a competition for the most fitting caricature of a Slovak has shown that a sense of self-irony is perhaps not the most highly developed national quality.
The competition, run by Slovakia's main EU negotiator, Ján Figeľ, was inspired by a postcard drawn by British caricaturist John Wilson. It depicts what EU member nations contribute to the character of the 'Perfect European' with their typical negative attributes. So Wilson's ideal European is a good cook like the British, is quiet as the Italians, adaptable as the Swedes and a good driver like the French. Get the idea?
Participants from home and abroad were asked to come up with an attribute that would best represent the typical Slovak - or rather, an attribute that was the opposite of a negative national characteristic, in the ironic manner shown in the examples. Even though sobriety and world fame had already been taken by Ireland and Luxembourg respectively, there were plenty of other characteristics in the running.


AND the winner is: Inhospitable as a Slovak.
photo. TASR

THE RESULTS of a competition for the most fitting caricature of a Slovak has shown that a sense of self-irony is perhaps not the most highly developed national quality.

The competition, run by Slovakia's main EU negotiator, Ján Figeľ, was inspired by a postcard drawn by British caricaturist John Wilson. It depicts what EU member nations contribute to the character of the 'Perfect European' with their typical negative attributes. So Wilson's ideal European is a good cook like the British, is quiet as the Italians, adaptable as the Swedes and a good driver like the French. Get the idea?

Participants from home and abroad were asked to come up with an attribute that would best represent the typical Slovak - or rather, an attribute that was the opposite of a negative national characteristic, in the ironic manner shown in the examples. Even though sobriety and world fame had already been taken by Ireland and Luxembourg respectively, there were plenty of other characteristics in the running.


ABSTINENT
photo. Sme

Following the announcement of the competition results at the end of November, 'good sense of humour' instantly became a hot candidate, although this virtue had already been nabbed by the Germans in Wilson's postcard.

Despite dozens of appropriate suggestions (see postcards, right and left), 'Inhospitable as a Slovak' was the winning slogan, accompanied by a drawing of a man sitting behind a table packed with food. The choice was made by a committee comprised of Figeľ, Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan, head of the EC Delegation in Bratislava Eric Van Der Linden and Monika Beňová, head of the parliamentary Foreign Committee, among others.

Figeľ said the winning piece had to be "acceptable from the perspective of international policy". Can we assume, then, that self deprecation is now forbidden in the realm of international relations? It was supposed to be the very point of this competition, but the victorious piece lacks it completely. While other nations were mocked for their weaknesses, Slovakia chose to highlight one of its strong points.

"This [competition], which was supposed to be a source of self-irony, turned into thinly veiled self-promotion," said literary critic Valér Mikula, who called the result "embarrassing".


TOLERANT
photo. Sme

"The committee didn't get the point at all," he said, adding that the word "sharp" might best describe the judges.

When the results were announced, Minister Kukan (who is not known for his sense of humour) said he was glad the country was able to take such a humorous look at its national characteristics.

"This kind of [competition] is a very good way of promoting the EU. It is excellent that we can make fun of ourselves," he said.

The committee distributed 50,000 flyers around Europe and received around 800 responses, most of which chose 'hardworking' as the most appropriate anti-characteristic for Slovaks.

Milan Kňažko, former Foreign and Culture Minister, was disgusted with the judge's choice, exclaiming: "It doesn't make me smile and it's not true."

He added that he would describe most Slovaks as "honest, incorruptible, cultured, fair, kind-hearted and diligent nondrinkers".


OPEN-MINDED
photo. Sme


MAGNANIMOUS
photo. Sme


REBELLIOUS
photo. Sme


SELF-ASSURED
photo. Sme


ENGAGED IN CURRENT AFFAIRS
photo. Sme

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