Interview with H.E. Mr Jiri SITLER, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Bucharest.
Which is the significance of the day of 28th October for the Czech people?
October 28th 1918 was the day of the end of Austrian-Hungarian monarchy and the day of proclamation of the Republic of Czechoslovakia and it’s celebrated by the Czech Republic as the day of the Republic. Usually, during this day, there are organized military manifestations of the local garrison and some public events, such as cultural ones, even concerts. But Czech people generally tend to be sober and there’s nothing big and bombastic, usually it is very quiet and small.
How could you evaluate the bilateral relations up to present and which would be the perspective for the next years?
If I may mention again October 28th 1918 because it was important also for the bilateral relations between the Republic of Czechoslovakia and Romania because in the First World War Czechs and Romanians allied and because of that, between the wars, they became good allies and they were joined also by Yugoslavia, it was called the little Entente. So our relations have very deep historical roots and they have something to do with the establishment of the Republic of Czechoslovakia in 1918. The current relations are very good. Because we are both in the European Union it means there is no significant problem on the bilateral – political agenda because everything is discussed in the EU framework. The basis of our relations today is, of course, the membership in the European Union and NATO, we both share very strong trans-Atlantic ties with the United States, very significant economic cooperation because, for instance, Czech Republic for Romania is the 11th biggest export destination in the world and vice-versa Romania is for Czech Republic the 16th biggest export destination in the world. They are not big countries so this is very significant. The volume of trade between Romania and the Czech Republic is 2.1 billion Euros, which is also significant. Skoda is the most sold foreign car in Romania and also Dacia is very popular in the Czech Republic. But we have about 500 Czech companies in Romania, some of them are major investors like CEZ, but we have beer producers here in Romania. This is the economic dimension. But also we have very active Czech cultural centre here, and the same has Romania in Prague – the Romanian Cultural Institute there. Just to get an idea, the Czech embassy together with the Czech centre organized in October this year about 40 events – music festivals in Bucharest, Sibiu, Cluj and other destinations. Cultural dimension is also very important; probably the biggest event which is organized by the Czech centre and the Czech embassy is the film festival on human rights which is organized in March every year. This year we had about 10,000 people attending this event, so it’s quite big event. We also have another dimension regarding the Czech communities living here in Romania, in Banat area. There are several thousands Czech people who live in Romania, maintaining their rituals, preserving their language, culture and traditions. But there is also a historical dimension of our relations. In the times of the monarchy, one of the architects of Peles Castle and Pelisor was Karel Liman, who was Czech.
In your opinion, how can the Czech investments in Romania but also the Romanian investments in the Czech Republic be increased?
As I said, we already have about 500 companies here, some of them are very big like CEZ, which has the biggest wind farm in Europe here in Romania. Also, CEZ has energy distribution in Oltenia, they also have a hydro-electric power plant in Resita. So they are present in three regions. It is one of the biggest investors in Romania. The really big players, big companies, can find their way by themselves in Romania or vice-versa but they need support from the government, mainly the medium and small companies. We organized last week the Czech-Romanian Forum of Investment at Romexpo. There were almost 100 participants, half Romanian and half Czech and we had new Czech companies who are not yet present in Romania, they came to see how they can invest here. I think the event was also successful because it was attended by both Foreign ministers and from the topics, we think the Forum will have also some practical results. And we think we should continue organizing this Forum and maybe next year it will be organized in the Czech Republic.