President of the European Commission, Prague, 10 October 2009

L to R: spokesperson Zbyněk Kopřiva, Capo di Tutti Capi CannabisTherapy Dušan Dvořák a producer Jan Hrnčíř

José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission
1049 Brussels, Belgium

General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union
Rue de la Loi 175, B-1048 Brussels, Belgium

Dear Mr. Barroso,

Dear Members of the European Parliament,

I congratulate you, Mr. Barroso, and wish you lots of success in leading the European Commission in the forthcoming years. 

 I am writing from one of the last countries, which to date has not yet ratified the Lisbon Treaty, however, I believe that the Czech Republic will soon change its attitude and no longer be the shame of Europe, as it has already been while holding the European presidency. 

 For plenty of people from the former communist block of eastern Europe, the European Union stands as symbol of lawfulness and truthfulness. 

 In light of the above, I am asking for your support in the following matter:
Between 2006 and 2008, the European Union was key support for the foundation of the first Czech  barrier-free school for adults, Ateliér ALF in Prague, which understands itself as a truly European school.  I have the honour of being the director of Ateliér ALF. 

We are teaching adults, including people with special social or medical needs, in applying new technologies and visual communication and thereby support their social and work integration. Ateliér ALF is as well a therapeutical and community centre and we cooperate with many Czech artists. The 2009 Conference of European Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs in Prague has selected us as a best practice example of European projects for our innovativeness and our excellent financial, educational and social welfare records. 

 Unfortunately, enormous corruption and disrespect for the law (namely the disrespect for the obligation to sustainably uphold financing of EU sponsored projects, which amounted to 40.000 EUR alone for opening, renovating and equipping Ateliér ALF) is the reason why Ateliér ALF is near to closure.  Czech authorities owe us more than 80.000 EUR and yet refuse payment. As we are a non-profit organisation, we are now at the limits of being able to sustain our barrier-free school. For one and a half years, we are trying to mitigate the indifferent attitude of state authorities and yet we only hear promises. 

This year, on 17th November, we are going to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the change from the communist system to democracy, a change which was initiated in 1989 by students. If the Czech state is continuing to act in the same disrespectful manner towards our barrier-free school, this very 17th November 2009 will be the last day of Ateliér ALF and it is not us, but our students, who will loose their school. It is only paradox that the past Czech presidency of EU created the motto of a barrier-free Europe.

I would like to assure you that, even in this crisis situation, we keep preparing new programs and innovations. If our situation improves, we are prepared to educate immobile and difficult to reach students through interactive video conferences. As a result, we offer cost reductions and broader availability of our education and the development of international cooperation. Our video conference training facilities have been tested on handicapped students and could be a great contribution of Ateliér ALF for the European university. 

Dear Mr. Barroso, in order to immediately overcome this crisis, we hereby kindly ask for your support in encouraging Czech authorities to meet their obligations and live by the law.

I remain with my best regards,

Dušan Dvořák, Atelier ALF, Bořivojova 90, 130 00 Praha, Česká republika,