Members of the Czech and Slovak YGNs take part in joint retreat
The Czech Young Generation (CYG) and the Young Generation section of the Slovak Nuclear Society (YG SNUS) have lot in common – not just their shared enthusiasm in support of nuclear energy, or the fact that their respective memberships are made up of nuclear experts less than 36 years old, but also because they also speak a similar language – one that Czechs and Slovaks shared for almost 70 years when they were both part of what was then Czechoslovakia. Hand in hand, both nations started building joint nuclear programmes when the former Czechoslovakia still existed and both parties significantly contributed to the commissioning of the first Czechoslovak nuclear power plant - A-1 in Jaslovske Bohunice and to subsequent units in Jaslovske Bohunice, Dukovany, Mochovce and Temelin. Despite (or maybe because of?) the break-up of Czechoslovakia, the ties between Slovaks and Czechs have remained very strong, both in terms of shared common history and a shared European bond. Nuclear experts from both sides of the border have cooperated closely for a long time (for instance with the organisation of the Bohemian-Moravian-Slovak Meeting of Reactor Physicists, which was reported here in an earlier edition of ENS NEWS). The YG sections in both countries followed suit and as a result both countries are now dealing with similar problems relating to nuclear energy, both on the technical side (with e.g. the operation of VVER reactors) and the political-social side (with regards to political approaches to nuclear power and to broad public support). Representatives of both the Czech and Slovak YG networks meet three times a year under the umbrella of the European Nuclear Society’s Young Generation Network (ENS YGN), where they promote the objectives of small central European pro-nuclear countries. Finally, members of both YG networks participate each year in the annual St. Nicholas meeting, where they present the results and achievements of their work.
Such a long and fruitful cooperation has led to a further strengthening of relations on a more informal, social basis. As a result, several Czechs and Slovaks took part in the first ever Czecho-Slovak YGN retreat in the Moravian village of Nemcicky, in February 2013. This was followed by the second Czecho-Slovak YGN retreat in the Slovakian city of Bratislava, in late September 2013.
Unlike at the St. Nicholas meeting, which was formal but basically still nuclear-related, or at ENS YGN meetings, which are both highly formal and strongly nuclear-related, Czecho-Slovak YGN retreats are meant to be truly informal social gatherings where participants relate to each other as young people and not just meet as nuclear just experts. These events help promote friendship as a solid basis for a constructive professional and more formal relationship.
The February meeting in Nemcicky was attended by 12 members of both YGNs, with Slovaks and Czechs almost equally represented. This informal meeting served as a free know-how and information exchange session, in particular with regards to nuclear decommissioning, an area where the Slovaks have extensive experiences as a result of the decommissioning of A-1 in Jaslovske Bohunice. Where else could you possibly learn about the further use of NPP recycled steel for the building of bridges and tunnels? Information was exchanged in the cosy setting of a Moravian wine cellar, where wine-tasting was the main social activity.
This initial meeting was followed by a kind invitation from the YG SNUS to visit the city of Bratislava. This time the YG SNUS hosted CYG members and Slovaks significantly outnumbered the Czechs. Both groups were equal, however, when it came to having fun and debating. The meeting was organized in much the same way as the February one in Nemcicky, with one main difference: instead of wine-tasting, beer-tasting was offered as the main social activity, in the oldest mini-brewery in Bratislava, called Richtar Jakub. Before that, a short tour of Bratislava was organized, with a visit to Bratislava castle and to the Bratislava Beerfest (beer festival), which just happened to be taking place on same day as the visit of the CYG. After that, a delightful time was had by all, enriched by presence of several beautiful Slovak female colleagues with a special interest in nuclear chemistry. They proved to be splendid companions. For the Czechs it was interesting to learn that Slovak companies are offered tax breaks if they support non-profit organizations; that is the case of the YG SNUS section which is, therefore, able to erect a “nuclear tent” at various cultural events thanks to support from Slovenske Elektrarne-ENEL.
Both these joint retreats showed that cooperation on an informal level is beneficial: not only to young people from different countries who get to meet each other, but also by laying down strong foundations for future professional cooperation. We would like to express our gratitude to both national nuclear societies, CNS and SNUS.
Ondrej Zlamal and Tomas Vytiska
Young Generation network of the Czech Nuclear Society