Fighting terrorism our top priority: Czech president

The president said the Kingdom is the second business partner of Czech Republic in the Gulf Cooperation Council after the UAE.

It has enormous growing potential, especially in sectors such as infrastructure, health, education, agriculture and food, defense and industry.

“To make business relations strategic we must work on creating an environment to encourage the forming of joint ventures between companies from both countries and work together on strategic projects and investments.

“We must promote cooperation on an intergovernmental level between specific authorities and host regular joint-committees. These activities would definitely help us come closer to forming a strategic relationship.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Saudi Arabia is the Middle East’s largest economy. What possible incentives can be offered to attract mutual investments?

A: Both Saudi Arabia and the Czech Republic have modern systems of investment incentives to attract foreign investments. The problem is that investors are not fully aware of such opportunities and have not much courage to take risks investing in different environments and cultures. Therefore, our governments should work on promoting mutual opportunities by organizing joint seminars, business missions and delegation exchanges. I am an ardent supporter of investments. As I like to say, I recommend sowing as many apple trees as possible so in the future we may harvest many apples.

Q: Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the Saudi-Czech diplomatic relationship. The relationship has been very positive and growing. What message would you like to say to the Saudi government and Saudi people?

A: First of all I would like to congratulate the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Czech Republic on such an important anniversary. May there be many more. Together we have done a lot in public diplomacy in the past 20 years. We have established very good cooperation in the field of health and education. Czech nurses and doctors are very well known and praised in Saudi Arabia, and we have several hundreds of them working in your country. They are our little ambassadors in your country that promote Czech medical capabilities. This is the reason why Czech hospitals and spas are so popular among Saudi people and Saudi students study at Czech medical faculties. We have also had very frequent exchanges of top government officials, including ministers of foreign affairs, finance and agriculture. A visit on the highest level would be a very welcome gift to both our government and people on this special anniversary.

Q: There are over 1.4 billion Muslims around the world and Saudi Arabia is at the heart of the Muslim world. The Czech Republic already deals diplomatically and economically with Muslim states, but how does it plan to develop its relationship with these countries?

A: Historically speaking, the Czech Republic has very close relationships with almost all of the Muslim countries, namely Arab countries. We understand Muslim culture and respect it. As proof I am very proud to inform you that we are planning on holding an exhibition of ancient and modern Muslim art from all over the world here in Prague. And for such an occasion, I happily welcome that such an exhibition is to take place right here on the historical grounds of the Prague Castle. I am very much looking forward to it, as it will further deepen our cultural ties, which is a means of further developing ties with the Muslim world.

Q: Diversity is a reality and different cultures and religions are an opportunity to engage and develop the Czech communities who live and work in many countries across the world successfully including Saudi Arabia. What is your message to them?

A: We have a Czech proverb, “As many languages you speak, as many times you have a personality,” and this can be also applied to different cultures and religions. The life outside your own country and in a different culture is not always easy for many reasons. Trying to understand the foreign country and its culture in which you deliberately work can help you to feel more comfortable and happy there so you do not miss your fatherland so much.

Q: Saudis have been investing in the Czech Republic, sending their students to Czech universities, coming for medical treatment and tourism, creating joint ventures with Czech companies, opening up to Czech culture and importing Czech goods, yet still the economic status between both countries is below expectations. What needs to be done to develop this further?

A: As I said before, we have to work on promoting more cooperation at the level of government institutions in many different fields and then, having created the expert framework for cooperation, we should engage private companies to materialize specific projects. Frequent and visible intergovernmental cooperation will also encourage private companies to form joint ventures and invest together not only in our countries but in the third markets as well.

Q: Saudi Arabia has begun a military operation to restore the legitimate government of Yemen, stop the terrorist insurgency backed by Iran and protect its borders. What is the position of the Czech Republic on this and what is it willing to do to support it?

A: I am following with great concern the deteriorating political, security and humanitarian situation in Yemen as a result of irresponsible unilateral military actions of militias against the legitimate Yemeni government. On the other hand the crisis must be resolved at the end, not only on the battlefields but also behind the negotiation table within the framework of an all-inclusive national dialogue under the UN auspices. The Czech Republic supports the efforts of international community and regional powers for a prompt implementation of all relevant UNSC resolutions, the Gulf initiative and the outcome of the National Dialogue Conference. Finally, I wish the operation of the Arab alliance “Restoring Hope” is a success and lives up to its codename.

Source: Saudi Gazette