Interview with Czech Republic Deputy Foreign Minister

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Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Mr Martin Tiapa gives interview to a reporter from MRTV. Photo: Myat Nandar

The following is an interview with Mr. Martin Tlapa, the deputy minister for foreign affairs of the Czech Republic, who visited Myanmat from 12-14 January. Myanmar established diplomatic relations with Czechoslovakia in 1956 and with the Czech Republic in 1989. It reopened its embassy in Myanmar in 2014.
Q:  Please tell us the reason why the Czech Republic decided to reopen its embassy in Myanmar.
A: I am very happy to be here. Your country is very beautiful. the reason for the reopening is, first, the bilateral talks between the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and the Czech Republic. I met your leaders because this is the important to enhance cooperation. We discussed how we will do this together. The second reason why I’m here is because we arranged a meeting we have embarked on a mission to meet in your beautiful country.
All countries in Asia decided to come as the ambassadors are meeting here to discuss strategy, what we can do together in the Asia Region. So, I’m very happy to spend the time here and to tour a very good visit.
Q: We would like to know your opinion on Myanmar’s endeavours for democratic transition.
A: I think we have a lot of similarities. Of course, your country is five times larger than the Czech Republic. We transformed to a democracy in 1989. I was studying that every country has to choose on their own what they would like to transform their country. We will not give you advice what to do or not to do. But, according to our experiences, what’s important is to have a vision. In the Czech Republic, everybody expected that a day after the change, everything would be new, the standard of living would be very high, exports will grow significantly and everything will be perfect. This is not possible. You have to be patient. So vision and patience is important. We are facing challenges regarding security. Unfortunately, terrorism is spreading around the world. The third important thing is to give the people security in your country. These three things are important for the moment. I’m sure your country will be successful because of the beautiful country and the beautiful people and your country is playing a more and more important role in global economy.
Q: You mentioned security. Our country is endeavouring for peace and national reconciliation. What is your opinion on this?
A: Security is important both for investors and for the people living in the country, of course. I come from Europe. We were watching all the terrorism on TV in the past. Now unfortunately, this is a part of everyday life in Europe. This is much bigger challenge for us. This is a global threat for us. We must work together at a multi-national level on how to tackle that. We have to work efficiently because this is the basic thing.
Of course, we have to go hand in hand with the peace process in your country and the human rights issue as well. That is important both for people living in your country and investors coming to your country. As I mentioned, you need to create a vision and every day take a step ahead. Because it can change day to day. You are on the good path and can do a lot of things, including ambassador cooperation with Czech Republic and Myanmar.
Q: Czechoslovakia was Myanmar’s economic partner around 1950. We had very good relations. What will be your priorities in terms of economic cooperation with us?
A: In 1950, your country is our fourth most important economic partner in Asia. There were a lot of factories built by Czechoslovakian technicians. We decided to come back and to help industrialisation and modernisation and economic changes to be more competitive. We would like to be more cooperative with your government in the infrastructure projects. We do our homework for researching and needs and plans to fit your economy. Definitely, energy is one of the key sectors because this is high priority of your government to have access to energy for many people. The second part is the mining industry and also the machinery industry. The third one I would like to mention is tourism. You may see more and more tourists are coming into the Czech Republic and more and more Czechs are coming to Asia. I think if you have a good strategy you can invite much more people travelling, for example, to Thailand and other parts of Asia, you can also invite to your country. Golden Land is very attractive. I hope it should be a successful partner for us. These are the three sectors we discussed in our meeting. We got concrete things, like inviting companies in Czech Republic to your country for your business and we hope politicians from your country will come to the Czech Republic in the near future and our ambassador here is also preparing for the companies to come together. He would like to have more cooperation for the practical project. This is the priority for our ministry and government.
Q: My last question is your opinion for future cooperation between us for strengthening bilateral relations.
A: We don’t have any problems in our relations. We have to cooperate on three levels: one is the bilateral level, the second one regional and the third is multi-national. You are an important partner in ASEAN and you are an important partner in WTO. I would be happy to coordinate with you to encourage the livelihoods of your people. In  the regional level, is also important for us to have projects which will help competitiveness with your country. In bilateral relations, we decided to open a full-fledged embassy here. We are providing the services because this is important evidence for our peoples that we believe in your country and we are happy to be here. And I hope Myanmar will open its embassy in Prague, a beautiful city. Lots of plans are coming together, I am happy talks are very fruitful and very concrete. I think a very practical thing is how we can help to build competitiveness in both countries and assist companies. I am very happy to visit here. The beautiful country believes me. I hope people from Czech Republic and your country will have regular people-to-people contacts. This is important in how to overcome doubts in our relations. We are happy to assist with this from the Czech side.

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