On 28 October we celebrate the Independent Czechoslovak State Day. Therefore, allow me to use this opportunity to write a few words about this important event in our history and remember other significant anniversaries.
This year marks 101 years since Czechoslovakia was established. Our country appeared as a product of the right of a people to self-determination, a principle encouraged by United States President Woodrow Wilson. Therefore there are also 101 years of our mutual diplomatic relations. These relations were later impaired by another important event which took place 80 years ago. In the spring 1939, Czechoslovakia was removed from the map of Europe by Nazi Germany and on 17 November 1939 Czech universities were closed. Two years later, in 1941, 17 November was acknowledged as the International Students’ Day; an opportunity for commemoration, celebrating and encouraging resistance against the Nazis and the fight for freedom and democracy in all nations.
Students were also one of the most powerful forces which participated on the Velvet Revolution in 1989. They organised a mass demonstration on 17 November in Prague to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of what happened in 1939 and were dispersed by cordon of riot police. This relatively violent reaction of the communist regime sparked another mass demonstrations, strikes and helped forming what was later known as the Civic Forum led by Vaclav Havel.
Therefore, in November, 30 years ago we started to slowly build our democracy. Romania joined us in this effort just one month later. The initial conditions for building democracies in our countries were significantly different. For instance, at that time, Czechoslovakian people did not suffer from severe shortages of electricity, heat or basic food like Romanian people did. But being aware of the fact that we were not standing on the same starting line, it makes me even more delighted to see where is Romania nowadays, how it developed and that it is our close partner in the European Union. Without a doubt, there are always possibilities how to make things better and how to make peoples’ lives easier and economically and culturaly richer. One of them is definitely international cooperation.
Current Czech-Romanian relations are predetermined by our membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Our bilateral relations are very intensive both in the political, economical and cultural sphere. For instance, we have no open bilateral political questions. We had some significant bilateral political visits this year. In March the prime minister of Romania visited Prague after 11 years. In the occassion of Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, many of Czech ministers and state secretaries had the opportunity to visit Romania and be a part of bilateral or multilateral negotiations.
In the economic sphere, more than 1000 Czech companies are active on Romanian market. Some their products you can see in public space daily and they are highly recognizable: Skoda cars, Pilsner Urquell beer and lately also electric buses by SOR Libchavy. Visits between Czech and Romanian businessman and businesswomen are happening on daily basis, also thanks to very effective flight connections between our countries.
Last but not least, I would like to mention one exceptional link between our countries which makes us very special partners. It is the Czech and Slovak community on the Romanian territory. They came to Banat almost 200 years ago and became founders of several villages. Their descendants are nowadays both Czech-Romanians or Slovak-Romanians. The Czech Republic supports the preservation of their cultural identity and I am very glad that Romania approaches the issue in the same way. Thanks to this community, many Czech tourists come to Romania and have the opportunity to discover your beautiful country.
I believe that the cooperation between the Czech Republic and Romania will become in the next years even closer in all the spheres mentioned above.