Immediately following the PRAGA 2008 World Stamp Exhibition is the WIPA 2008 Philatelic Exhibition in Vienna, just four hours from Prague by an international express train. This is an unexpected bonus that both historic Central European cities offer not only Europeans, but also visitors from overseas. The secretary of the organizing committee, Vladimír Münzberger, put it cleverly on the website of our exhibition: “PRAGA 2008 is passing the philatelic baton to the WIPA 2008 exhibition in Vienna.”
It is therefore in the interest of both countries, both capitals and both presenters – the postal authorities and philatelic unions – that they quickly agree on mutual, well planned cooperation that should cover both promotion of both promotion for the two exhibitions and philately and also a joint issue of postage stamps.
The first mutual personal contacts were established by the Czech organizers back in November 2006 during the BELGICA 2006 World Stamp Exhibition in Brussels. Not even three months had passed, and Prague was visited by representatives of the Austrian delegation, led by its director, Erich Haas, with his coworker Silvie Klampferer. They both represented the Austrian postal authority - Ősterreichische Post AG. The other members of the delegation were a representative of the Austrian Philateic Union (VŐPh) and the general commissioner of the WIPA 2008 Exhibition, Horst E. Horin, and the newly appointed general secretary of the WIPA 2008 Exhibition, Werner Schindler. He replaced Claudie Riedmann, who recently resigned for health reasons.
On Tuesday, 27 February 2007, the entire Austrian delegation was welcomed at the office of the Czech Philatelic Union by the SČF chairman and secretary, the chairman of the PRAGA 2008 organizing committee, the general commissioner of the exhibition and its secretary, along with an interpreter and the co-organizer of the exhibition OSTROPA Karel Pech. There was discussion of cooperation between both organizing committees, joint promotion, contents of the exhibitions and their societal and cultural programs. Our Austrian friends were familiarized with the Youth Post under preparation that was a standout at thePRAGA 1998 Exhibition, with the Czech Salon of Youth and with the original project EXPONET, which secretary Münzberger demonstrated visually at PRAGA 2008 headquarters to all present.
On the following day, Wednesday, 28 February, in the building of the Czech Postal Museum with the participation of an interpreter from Czech Post, a joint working meeting of the Austrian delegation was held with Mr. Miroslav Špaček – the assistant general manager of Czech Post, Vítězslava Francková – the department head for preparation of stamp creations of the General Headquarters of Czech Post, Jan Galuška the deputy director of the Postal museum and with the chairman of the SČF. Again, the agenda of the meeting was varied. A pivotal point was discussion of a joint issue of stamps for PRAGA 2008 – WIPA 2008. Interestingly, the Austrian delegation, led by its manager, Mr. Haas, being enthusiastic about its morning visit to the postal printing company Poštovní tiskárny cenin the day before, adapted its themes to the printing technology, and specifically to the multi-color printing, of our postal printing company. A joint procedure was agreed upon for the Austrian and Czech postal authorities, along with a schedule for preparing the final form of the joint stamp issue for PRAGA 2008 – WIPA 2008. There was also talk about possible themes for commemorative postcards for the PRAGA 2008 Exhibition. Already, I would like to assure our collectors that the themes will be attractive.
The especially important thing agreed by both parties was further joint meetings to be held in the future. There might even be a full-day working seminar dealing with other problems of stamp collecting and its support, updating each other and publication of articles on the specialized field and on interesting topics.
The Austrian delegation also greatly appreciated the informative visit to the Church of St. Gabriel on the grounds of the former cloister, the decorations of which were commemorated in 1999 by a beautiful block with the title Beuron Art School, as well as the tour of the picturesque Postal Museum with its rich selection of books and philatelic collections. The Postal Museum, decorated with 19th century frescoes by Navrátil, also interested the guests with its program of regular exhibitions of famous engravers, graphic artists and postage stamp designers and its student research opportunities. Since they have no such museum in Vienna, the Austrians sincerely congratulated Dr. Galuška and Czech Post about that facility, opened on the occasion of the PRAGA 1978 World Exhibition.
It seems that the effective and friendly cooperation of both presenting cities and European Union Member States has successfully begun in Prague in February 2007.