Written by: Philippe Riboton
IF YOU WERE LUCKY enough to enjoy Prague at the time of the International Monetary Fund meeting some two years ago, then chances are you will enjoy our city even more at the time of the NATO summit. Coming this month, to a place near you. Imagine for a moment: most streets and roads giving access to the major hotels where official delegations will be held totally restricted. Traffic jams around Prague dozens of kilometers long. Official escorts driving full-speed through a city under total police and military control. Upscale restaurants booked for private functions for days in a row. F-16 fighter planes poised to respond to any possible terrorist threat. Pacifist demonstrators and other professional rabble-rousers waiting for D-day, or any excuse to destroy every icon of American capitalism. These are just a few examples of the benefits this great event will bring to the Czech capital. A sort of Louis Amstrong “Wonderful World” revisited. One should also mention that it will mean a bit of business for a lot of service-oriented industries, from catering and car rental to translation agencies and temporary employment firms. Hence the focus of The Prague Tribune’s cover story this month: what this major politico-military event also means in terms of commerce. Interestingly, many companies say this will not mean much profit to them, but more an invaluable reference for future business.
Take a deep breath after reading that story, because chances are you will hear about NATO from morning until night every single day for the rest of November. For several weeks in September and October (prior to the hordes of foreign press descending on Prague), NATO’s local press office “fulfilled” our requests for information by saying they didn’t have time to respond, or by denying they actually received our requests. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how they react to the flood of emails, faxes and phone calls from several thousand journalists, whose articles and reports will paint a picture of this country for the whole world. Let’s hope it will be a pretty one.