Prague - What is the advertisement poster of Jágr all about? Ruzyně Airport staff has started to hate this question, asked many times a day by puzzled tourists.
The poster starring a famous Czech hockey player Jaromír Jágr playing with a sugar cube refers to the EU chair promotion campaign, the main slogan of which is "We will make it sweet for Europe".
However, the slogan defies translation as it centers on an idiom, meaning of which is to give someone (Europe, in this case) a hard time.
Thus the meaning of the bittersweet pun escapes the tourists too. Consequently, nobody connects the ad with the Czech Republic's assumption of EU presidency in January 2009 and skeptics are quick to point out the ad is missing its point.
Not even the Czech embassies can be of help here. It would be only natural to promote the Czechs' EU presidency via the embassies, since it is the first place where tourists come to ask for information. But the embassies lack funding for such an activity.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs earmarked CZK 30 million for cultural activities, Czech embassies in Europe will not get a penny, though.
Why? It is the duty of the Czech Centers operating across the EU member states to advertise the country's activities.
However, even the Czech Centers have not received any additional funds to promote the EU presidency.
"The Czech Centers will implement EU-presidency related projects but only within their own budget. We are trying to get external sources," says Radka Labendz from the Czech Center HQs.
Ironically, the Centers that are authorized by the state to promote Czech culture and education abroad will not have a chance to organize any other ambitious projects than just few travelling exhibitions during the EU presidency.
PR lunch above all
At the end of the day the Czech embassies across Europe received some additional funds. The Czech Center in Berlin was allocated CZK 200,000. Bratislava Center got CZK 100,000 and Warsaw CZK 45,000.
But this money is meant mainly for diplomatic PR activities. In other words, business lunch and dinner for politicians and diplomats.
Badges and logos
Despite the lack of funds for the country's EU presidency promotion, the embassies will have CZK 280,000 altogether to be used for their EU-decoration.
The walls of the embassies will be embellished with the logo of the colorful map of Europe designed by Tomáš Pakosta or the poster of Jágr playing with a sugar cube.