On Thursday 24th February 2022, I listened in horror to Mr. Vladimir Putin tell lies and spread disinformation and propaganda about Ukraine and its people. He made outrageous inaccurate claims and demanded the surrender of the legitimately elected government of Ukraine. I watched on TV in shock and disbelief as Russian tanks and military vehicles flooded across the borders from the North, the East and the South of Ukraine and indiscriminately killed innocent Ukrainian men, women and children and wreaked havoc on the infrastructure of a sovereign peaceful European country.
As Founder and President of the European Union Science Olympiad (EUSO) I unequivocally condemn the attack by the Russian Federation on Ukraine.
I grew up during the aftermath of WW11. While Ireland remained neutral, the Irish, like many other European suffered greatly from the after-effects of the war. It took some time for the full impact of the Nazi atrocities on the people of Europe to reach Irish shores. I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau to see the gas chambers and the ovens for myself to try to comprehend the full scale of this barbarity and man’s inhumanity to man. These visits made me more determined than ever to do something, however small, to support European unity and the integration of EU citizens, especially students, in the hope that outrages such as these might never happen in Europe again. This was one of the main reasons why I founded EUSO. I’m a dedicated supported of the EU and have been throughout the whole of my Education and Political career.
Long Live a Free Ukraine
Dr. Michael A. Cotter
EUSO Founder & President
Report on the Cancellation of EUSO 2020
Dr. Michael A. Cotter: EUSO Founder and President
Included: Email from Dr. Jan Kriz containing lies and inaccuracies and an email from Mr. Jeff Kohnen containing a total of 15 lies, misinformation, propaganda, demands and threats, is a Luxembourg plot and coup and a manifesto on how to hijack EUSO
I was invited by the organisers of EUSO 2020 to visit the Czech Republic on 9th -13th February 2020 to assess the level of preparedness for EUSO 2020, on behalf of the Governing Body (GB), which was schedule to take place in the University of Hradec Králové on 10th -16th May 2020. I met the EUSO 2020 Manager/Secretary Ing. Monika Polívková and the Chair of the Organising Committee (OC), Dr. Jan Černý in Charles University and the Chair of the Scientific Committee (SC), Dr. Jan Kriz in the University of Hradec Králové. I also has a meeting with Dr. Karel Kovář, Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sport and his officials in his office in Prague. Following a PowerPoint presentation by Dr. Černý on EUSO 2020 we discussed the implications and the possible impact of the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) on EUSO 2020. Everyone present was aware of the seriousness of the situation. On my return to Dublin, I sent a detailed report of my visit to all EUSO – GB members.
By late February the rapid spread on Covid-19 across the EU had become a reality. On 3rd March 2020 I wrote to Dr. Robert Plaga PhD, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, expressing the concerns of many Country Coordinators (CC) and seeking clarity as to whether or not EUSO 2020 would take place in the Czech Republic on 10th -16th May 2020.
On 14th March 2020, Dr. Jan Kříž, Dr. Jan Černý, Dr. Lenka Libusová and Ing. Monika Polívková on behalf of the OC, emailed the GB members informing them that they were in agreement with their country emergency policies and offered to postpone the EUSO to 13th -19th September 2020, if EU member states were willing to participate at that time.
On 24th March 2020 I received a letter from Dr. Jaroslav Faltýn, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, informing me that the Czech Government had declared a state of emergency and that EUSO 2020 could not take place in the Czech Republic in May to prevent the spread of the spread of Covid-19. He however, held open the possibility of EUSO 2020 taking place during the period 1st September – 31st December 2020, if conditions were favourable.
On 30th March, I received a letter from Dr. Faltýn informing me that it was not possible for the Ministry to confirm that EUSO 2020 would take place in the period 1st September – 31st December because such decisions are taken by the State Security Council.
On 16th June 2020, Dr. Černý and Dr. Kriz emailed all the GB members asking them if they would be willing to participate in EUSO 2020 on 13th – 19th September 2020. A number of CCs contacted me at the end of June, pointing out that their governments would not permit them travel to the Czech Republic to attend EUSO 2020 in September because of the risk of Covid-19 to their students and mentors. On 3rd July 2020, I wrote to Dr. Faltýn seeking information on the whether or not EUSO 2020 would take place in the Czech Republic in September.
On Friday 24th July, I received a phone call from Dr. Faltýn, followed by an email copied to Deputy Minister Dr. Karel Kovář, informing me that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport had cancelled EUSO 2020 scheduled to take place in the University Hradec Králové on 13th – 19th September 2020, to prevent the spread on Covid-19.
On the evening of Friday 24th July I emailed all GB members and I informed them of the decision taken by the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport to cancel EUSO 2020 to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the Czech Republic and across that EU.
Text of the Email from Ministry of Education Youth and Sport.
I am following up on our telephone consultation on the possibilities of implementing the European Union Science Olympiad in the Czech Republic in 2020. Due to the deteriorating situation of the spread of COVID-19 in our country, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport agreed on the excessive risk of organizing the Olympics in the original term. Therefore, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, do not recommend organizing EUSO in September 2020 in the Czech Republic. However, I would like to assure you that the possibilities of organizing the Olympics next year or at another alternative date are open and we will discuss them together.
Email from Dr. Michael A. Cotter, EUSO Founder & President to GB Members: 2020-07-24: 16.43
FAO: EUSO Governing Body
Dear GB Members,
I hope you all are well and that your families, friends and colleagues are in good health.
I have received verbal and written confirmation today from Mgr. Jaroslav Faltý, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Prague, that EUSO 2020 will not take place in the University of Hradec Králové, the Czech Republic.
As you know, I raised the issue of Covid-19 with the Deputy Minister during my visit last February. I have been in regular contact with the Ministry since then, but I was unable, due to the changing nature of the epidemic, to get a definitive response regarding EUSO 2020 until today.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Director of EUSO 2020 and the members, both of the Organising Committee and of the Scientific Committee, for their immense efforts in relation to trying to hold EUSO 2020 in the Czech Republic.
I also wish to thank you for being so consistently positive, patient and supportive in the face of this extraordinary situation.
Please confirm that you have received this email and inform your Mentors and all others involved in EUSO in your respective countries that EUSO 2020 is, unfortunately, cancelled.
I will be in further contact with you regarding EUSO next term. Meanwhile, take good care of yourselves, stay safe and enjoy the rest of the summer.
Dr. Michael A. Cotter: EUSO Founder & President
Email from Dr. Jan Kriz sent late at night to EUSO GB Members
Subject: EUSO 2020 cancelled by Michael Cotter himself
Dear EUSO family,
I was thinking for a very long, but then I decided to write this email to all of you. Please, concern this as the personal point of view of one person – the dean of the faculty who really wanted to host EUSO 2020. This is not an official mail from the organizers.
The EUSO 2020 was cancelled by the president of EUSO, Dr Michael Cotter himself after the consultation with one not so important person at the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth of the Czech Republic, Mr Jaroslav Faltýn, who has no right to decide! The decision was taken without any discussion with the organizing team! We asked Michael for his opinion three weeks ago and we did not obtain any answer.
I admire you that you have created such an amazing event as EUSO, but I am completely shocked by your behaviour! Why have you communicated with the ordinary staff of our Ministry without any communication with us? I really do not understand you, I have expected we have been the partners. My English is rather poor to express my feelings, but it is the unforgiven foul trip. In an ice-hockey game, you would obtain the penalty to the end of the career for this! I am very sorry that I have met you ever!
Four weeks ago we have written a friendly email to Michael, then we tried to reach him by phone. Meantime, he was in contact with one person at our Ministry of Education and did not tell us anything. Mr Jaroslav Faltýn is now responsible for competitions at our Ministry, he was established to this position just a few months ago. Although he probably prepares some decisions for the deputy minister, he has no right to decide! And this is the person, who Michael was communicated with. He is definitely not the Minister, as some of you understood according to your emails. The last official mail from our Ministry (from the beginning of July) asked me of the situation and my answer was, we are ready to organize the event in September.
I am pretty happy now because I am not responsible for EUSO 2020 anymore. Maybe, the situation in the Czech Republic and Europe would lead to the cancelling of this year volume anyway. But the way, how it happened is absolutely inadmissible for me.
At the same time, I am very sad. I loved EUSO and the atmosphere at the competition. Now, everything is broken. I will never take part in the Olympiad under the presidentship of such cheat person, as Michael appeared. I am the president of Czech Physics Olympiad and I can hardly imagine that we will somehow collaborate in selecting the teams of the Czech Republic for any future EUSO.
I hope, everyone of you is OK in this strange situation.
Comment by Dr. Michael A. Cotter: EUSO President on email from Dr. Jan Kriz
- That it is the personal point of view of one person – not an official mail from the organizers. (As such, this email has no status within EUSO. It is just one private individual’s personal opinion)
- The EUSO 2020 was cancelled by the president of EUSO, Dr Michael Cotter himself. (This is not true. I have no authority to cancel EUSO 2020 and I did not cancel EUSO 2020. It was cancelled by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth of the Czech Republic.)
- after the consultation with one not so important person at the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth of the Czech Republic, Mr Jaroslav Faltýn, who has no right to decide!’ (No one in the Czech Republic Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport consulted me regarding the cancellation of EUSO 2020. The Minister made the decision to cancel EUSO 2020 and duly informed me. My comment on the reference to Dr. Faltýn is that, in my opinion it is a derogatory statement. Dr. Faltýn did not decide to cancel EUSO 2020)
- The decision was taken without any discussion with the organizing team! (I cannot comment on whether there was any discussion between the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the Organisers of EUSO 2020. I certainly did inform the organisers of the Ministerial decision)
- Why have you communicated with the ordinary staff of our Ministry without any communication with us? (My comment on this offensive description of Dr. Faltýn by Dr. Kriz as ‘the ordinary staff’ it that is a derogatory term and an insult, which I reject. Faltýn contacted me by phone and I answered his call)
- he has no right to decide! and this is the person, who Michael was communicated with. (Dr. Faltýn has never said the he decided to cancel EUSO 2020. He is the representative of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth of the Czech Republic, who contacted me to inform me, as EUSO President, that the Minister had cancelled EUSO 2020. He deserved and received my respect.)
Email sent by Mr. Jeff Kohnen to Dr. Jan Černý, to all EUSO CCs in the 24 EU participating countries and to the EUSO 2020 Organising Committee. (Mon, July 27, 2020, 10:10 PM)
Dear Jan (and all organizers),
Thank you for the information. I am very sorry to hear what happened and how you and Jan Kriz were treated. That is highly respect-less and I cannot understand how I man, that I did respect a lot, could act in such a way. The project of EUSO has been such a big success for the last 17 years because the president and the CC’s were a group of friends who did invest a lot of efforts in this project. We were all convinced that EUSO is a great project for our students and for the future of science in Europe.
I am shocked to hear the the president of the EUSO did cancel an olympiad without communicating with the organizers. The organizers did invest a huge amount of energy in the project, in 2019 we all were very happy that the Czech Republic declared to be able to organize EUSO 2020 and we promised our full support to them. Could the president of EUSO explain to us, what happened, that he did not talk to the organizers before taking such a big decision ? Is EUSO now an event where decisions are only taken by the president and politicians?
Dear Jan and Jan, if I imagine how I would have reacted if the president of the EUSO would have announced to me in January 2013 (so 2 month before the beginning of EUSO 2013 in Luxembourg) by email, that the event has been canceled, I am getting very furious. I think every former director of an EUSO can understand how you do feel at the moment. We all are very sorry about what happened !!!!
As we are all convinced that EUSO should not be destroyed by this decision, I want to pick up the suggestion from Hans. We need a meeting of the president of the EUSO and all country coordinators to decide how the EUSO project should continue. As I can imagine that our friends from Czech Republic may not be in the mood to organize a CC meeting in Hradek Kralove, I want to make the suggestion of a meeting in Luxembourg from the 17th to the 19th of September in Luxembourg.
We do have some budget left, because of the cancelation of the different olympiads, so Luxembourg could offer to organize the meeting in Luxembourg. We would be able to finance the coasts for accommodation and part of the food for a maximum of 26 person. You can find attached to this mail a first version of a time table. We would have one and a half day to discuss about the future of EUSO.
We are of course aware that the developpement of the actual pandemic could make it difficult to get everyone to Luxembourg, but we have to try to get everyone in one place. If this would not be possible we could use videoconference as an option to get all the people together.
Let me know what you think about my suggestion.
Dear Michael, I really cannot understand what happened in this situation but I hope that you realize that there is a high risk that EUSO will be destroyed. If you want to save YOUR project and assure that it will last on for a long time, you need to take your responsibility and resign as president of the EUSO. At the meeting in September we could elect a new president of the EUSO and you would be honorary president. This would save EUSO and give all of us a positive perspective for the future.
I am a part of EUSO since 2007 and hope that we can save this wonderful competition.
Tel: 621 309 415
Comment by Dr. Michael A. Cotter: EUSO President on email from Mr. Jeff Kohnen
- I am very sorry to hear what happened and how you (Jan Cerny) and Jan Kriz were treated. (I have always treated all EUSO organisers and participants with the utmost dignity and respect. I emailed Ing. Monika Polívková, Dr. Černý and Dr. Kriz both privately and publicly informing them that their Minster had cancelled EUSO 2020 and I thanked them for all the work that they had done. I assume that the Ministry did likewise.)
- I am shocked to hear that the president of the EUSO did cancel an olympiad without communicating with the organizers. (This is a lie. I did not cancel EUSO 2020 and I did communicate the decision of their Minister to the organisers.)
- Could the president of EUSO explain to us, what happened, that he did not talk to the organizers before taking such a big decision ? (I did not make the ‘big decision’. It was the Czech Republic Government’s decision to cancel EUSO 2020. I kept the organisers and the GB updated throughout)
- Is EUSO now an event where decisions are only taken by the president and politicians? (I did not cancel EUSO 2020. I was not consulted on the matter, nor did I expect to be, nor should I have been consulted. Yes, this is a political decision taken by the Minister to protect public health)
- if I imagine how I would have reacted if the president of the EUSO would have announced to me in January 2013 (so 2 month before the beginning of EUSO 2013 in Luxembourg) by email, that the event has been canceled, (This is a lie, misinformation and propaganda. I could not have cancelled EUSO 2013. I had no authority to cancel EUSO 2013 once the Minister had agreed to host the event)
- I want to make the suggestion of a meeting in Luxembourg from the 17th to the 19th of September in Luxembourg. (This is the first step towards the hijacking of EUSO. The Minister cancelled this in-person meeting on receipt of an email from me.)
- We do have some budget left, because of the cancelation of the different olympiads, (The International Science Olympiads including the International Junior Science Olympiad (IJSO) in Germany were all cancelled because of Covid-19. Mr. Kohnen and now his supporters appears to claim that EUSO should not have been cancelled by the Ministry of Education in the Czech Republic because of Covid-19)
- so Luxembourg could offer to organize the meeting in Luxembourg. We would be able to finance the coasts for accommodation and part of the food for a maximum of 26 person. (The EUSO CC for Luxembourg was prepared to fund this unofficial EUSO meeting in Luxembourg, using Luxembourg Olympiad funds)
- You can find attached to this mail a first version of a time table. We would have one and a half day to discuss about the future of EUSO (The time, the date and the place of the Luxembourg coup was decided)
- we have to try to get everyone in one place.(This was in the middle of a global pandemic, international travel bans and during national lockdowns)
- If this would not be possible we could use videoconference as an option to get all the people together. (At this videoconference EUSO was hijacked, renamed as EOES and EUSO were exterminated)
- Dear Michael, If you want to save YOUR project and assure that it will last on for a long time, you need to take your responsibility and resign as president of the EUSO. (This is an outrageous demand. Putting a gun to my head and demanding that I resign as EUSO president for something that I did not do, is shocking and should not be tolerated for a single moment by any Minster of Education or University)
- At the meeting in September we could elect a new president of the EUSO (I was unanimously elected EUSO President at the last EUSO in 2019 in Portugal. The Luxembourg coup was to be triggered at this meeting in Luxembourg or at the videoconference)
- and you would be Honorary President. (I’m the elected EUSO President. Mr Kohnen has no authority to create the role of Honorary President and more bizarrely to offer it to me)
- This would save EUSO and give all of us a positive perspective for the future (This email resulted in the hijacking of EUSO)