Czechs apologise to Bulgaria over EU 'toilet' map
Bulgaria has condemned its portrayal as a toilet floor as bad taste and wants the image removed.
The Czech government apologised to Bulgaria on Thursday for portraying it as a toilet floor in an official mosaic commissioned to mark the Czech Republic's EU presidency, offering to remove the image if Sofia was offended.
The huge temporary art installation beneath the glass and steel-framed ceiling inside the European Council building in Brussels where EU leaders hold their summits depicts individual countries in map forms attached to a blue tubular grid.
Bulgaria has condemned its portrayal as a toilet floor, now with flashing lights, as bad taste and wants the image removed.
The mosaic, which uses stereotypes for each country's map, was created by controversial Czech artist David Cerny who on Tuesday admitted he had deceived his government into believing it was the work of artists from all 27 EU member states.
"This piece of art was never meant as the Czech presidency's vision of the European Union," Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra told a news conference. "We wanted to prove that 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, there is no censorship."
"I understand that some could feel offended and I would apologise to them," he said. "I apologise to Bulgaria and its government if it feels offended."
If Bulgaria insisted, the image would be removed, Vondra said. But the Czechs still intended to keep the mosaic in place until the end of their six-month EU presidency on June 30.
Traditionally, countries that hold the EU presidency construct a decoration or sculpture in Brussels' EU quarter during their tenure, usually in the European Council building.
Just before the news conference started, the 8-tonne mosaic was "powered up" so that several of the pieces moved, flashed coloured lights and made noises -- to general applause. Some of Cerny's other national images are also quite daring.
"We are really sorry that we insulted individual nations," Cerny told the news conference after Vondra had left. "I would like very much to apologise to the Czech government ... which I misled on purpose."
"It looks unfortunately like that we insulted Bulgaria and we are sorry for that," he said. "We seriously expected that this would be taken as a joke, as a piece of art."
Reuters Last Mod: 15 Ocak 2009, 22:39