On Thursday morning, Martin Vopěnka, chairman of the organising Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers, welcomed all the guests to the "festival of the written word" as part of the official opening of this year's Book World book fair.
Welcome to the Festival of the Written Word: 24th Annual Book World Book Fair Commences
Hippy Hou, frontman of the Tabasker band, provided musical accompaniment in the form of a Czech and a Hebrew song and an informal welcoming speech was delivered by Saša Michailidis. Daniel Meron, ambassador of the State of Israel, this year's guest of honour, said: "Just like the Czechs, we in Israel also love books and our authors." He followed by introducing the names of some of the outstanding Israeli writers attending Book World Prague and reminded the audience of the special relationship enjoyed by our two countries, testified to, among other, by the exhibition marking the first Czechoslovak president T. G. Masaryk's visit to Israel. The Czech minister of culture Ilja Šmíd has emphasised that culture is any society's most important asset, saying, "Maybe not everyone is aware of it, but all of us gathered here know it." Jan Čižinský, the mayor of Prague 7, which increasingly defines itself as an art district, talked about the ever-intensifying cooperation between the city part and Book World. The concluding address was presented by the book fair manager Radovan Auer. Once again he extended his gratitude to all the book fair's participants and visitors, its supporters and sponsors. Shortly before noon he gave the sign for the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon, which marked the official opening of the 24th annual book fair.