the Czech Republic to Thailand
I arrived in Thailand on August 1st and officially began my duty by presenting the Letters of Credence to the hands of H.M. the King of Thailand on October 7. My tour of duty will be 4 years.
What are your impressions of Thailand so far?
I have been to Thailand many times before and I am really excited to explore the country again and to see how it has evolved and changed since my last visit. My kids and I love the sun and sea and I hope to enjoy plenty of it here. We also love sailing and straightaway became members of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya. I also wanted to present the rich and authentic culture to my teenage kids so that they have a better understanding of this beautiful part of the world.
Many people are still unaware that the former Czechoslovakia is now two countries. Please give us a brief recent history of the Czech Republic.
The history of my country is very rich, and it is connected to the history of Europe. Since 1918 when the former Czechoslovakia emerged from the ashes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, we have had to face German invasion and occupation during WW2, communist regime inspired by Soviet totalitarian system led by Stalin, and Russian military invasion in 1968 crushing the beginning of democracy and prosperity.
Finally, in 1989 we became free again thanks to the positive situation in Europe and we have again started to rebuild our country. The newly acquired freedom also inspired the desire for greater autonomy and self-determination of many nations in former communist countries like Yugoslavia. The Slovak part of the federative Czechoslovakia also desired greater autonomy and finally decided on independence. We are extremely proud that the process of division of Czechoslovakia, even though it was not easy, was carried out peacefully and without a single person killed or a single drop of blood spilled. In this we may serve as an example that peace is the way.
Soon after in 2004, both Czechia and Slovakia became members of the EU and our relations are excellent. We work together in EU, NATO, V4 and other regional and international organizations. The Russian colonial war in Ukraine brought us even closer.
Relations with Thailand were unfortunately influenced by the Cold war era. Already in the pre-war period, Czechoslovakia maintained numerous contacts with Siam, which was divided into the spheres of British and French influence, including commercial ones. Czech shoe company Baťa started activities in Siam as early as 1929, continued by opening dozens of stores by the end of the 1930s. Skoda's factories were also active, having built their first sugar mill factory in Thailand in 1937.
In the post-war period, the Thai government was not interested in establishing relations with the communist government. This situation only changed with the sending of the first Thai trade mission to Czechoslovakia in 1969, when Thailand proposed establishing relations, which was, of course, complicated by the country's involvement in the US war in Indochina.
Diplomatic relations between Czechoslovakia and Thailand were only established five years later, on 15 March 1974. Until 1989, these relations were mainly formal: a non-resident ambassador was accredited for Thailand in Rangoon, and a non-resident ambassador for Czechoslovakia in Warsaw.
After the fall of the communist regime, foreign policy priorities were reassessed, and relations intensified. In 1990, embassies were opened in Bangkok and Prague. Thailand recognized the Czech Republic on January 1, 1993.
Since then, bilateral relations have grown stronger, especially in trade. With the recent changes in geo Spolitical situation the Indo-Pacific region has become the priority for Czechia and we hope and work on creating more durable relations with partners who are looking for balanced, stable, long term and mutually beneficial relations.
Please update us on the latest developments in bilateral trade and investment between the Czech Republic and Thailand?
Trade relations between Czechia and Thailand have always been very strong and last year the volume of our bilateral trade came close to two billion USD. We are very happy to see that products with high added value flows both ways.
From the Czech side, I was extremely happy to see the Czech company LINET entering the Thai market recently. LINET was established 30 years ago and today it is world no.1 producer of highly innovative and sophisticated hospital beds and other medical equipment.
How important is it for the Czech Republic to have a major presence in a country like Thailand?
As it was said before, with changing situations around the world, mid-size and small countries need to develop stronger ties to be more resilient and able to resist colonial and imperial activities that can be nowadays clearly seen in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
We, together with the EU, work on creating strong and balanced relations with Thailand and other ASEAN partners.
Who are the major Czech Republic companies operating in Thailand?
They includer LINET, Colt - Česka zbrojovka, Sellier & Bellot, ZKL, Škoda TS, Rieter CZ, Elitex, Hamé, Jablonex, Milkpol, Interlacto, Olma, Madeta, Laktos, Jihomilk, Robert Bosch, Lucas Varity, Preciosa, Technoexport and Lasvit.
Any major Thai companies operating or investing in the Czech Republic?
Recently the Indorama Ventures company invested in several Czech companies and many others do business in Czechia.
In normal times, how many people from the Czech Republic visit Thailand?
Before Covid, 50-60,000 Czechs visited Thailand every year. According to the bookings of the Czech tour operators this coming season the numbers are looking very positive and close to the pre-Covid era.
Direct links established so far for the main tourist season connect Prague and Krabi. We will work on creating a stable all year-round air connection between Bangkok and Prague.
Because there is nothing like it! Such a great mixture of cultural influences cannot be found anywhere else. Czechia is also a very good starting point for wider European tours. Castles, chateaux, sixteen UNESCO monuments and historical cities are some of the most popular destinations in the Czech Republic. History, recent as well as ancient, has left its mark on this blissful landscape, with many impressive treasures from different eras. The reflections of the past can also be experienced in the still living traditional crafts and colorful folklore.
It goes without saying that the travel experience is not complete without discovering the tastes of the Czech cuisine in all its traditional and modern forms, and with a glass of premium Czech beer or local wine.
Or you can indulge yourself in unforgettable experiences and set out to wander around the picturesque countryside. The Czech mountains offer a great number of experiences in summer and in winter. Finally, do not forget the Czech spas are some of the most popular in the world. (www.visitczechrepublic.com)
How many staff work at the embassy?
We have nine Czech nationals and seven local employees.
Are you planning any major cross-cultural projects or high level government visits?
We try to bring the best of the Czech culture to Thailand. Recently we held the screening of the Czech film ‘The Teacher’ at Chulalongkorn University, with debate afterwards with students. Soon there will be Czech artist Viktor Černický (www.unfoldingkafkafestival.com). We have more plans for next year.
Please tell us about your EU space project that was recently unveiled here in Thailand.
The Global Action on Space, in collaboration with the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU Council, organized its first hybrid event in Asia, which took place here in Bangkok last October. The event followed up on the success of the previously organized ‘Climate change and EU space data: exploring opportunities for ASEAN countries’ webinar for the Asian region.
The hybrid event was dedicated to highlighting the benefits that the EU Space program can bring to local communities and participants in the ASEAN and Indo Pacific space ecosystems. A particular focus will be placed on the topics of climate change, emergency response capabilities, and 3SOS (Space Safety, Security and Sustainability of Outer Space).
The morning session introduced the EU Space Program and highlighted the opportunities related to the Copernicus and Galileo components. In particular, the session illustrated applications and products related to the free and open data policy of the Copernicus Land, Ocean, Climate Change, and Emergency monitoring services. Galileo’s Search and Rescue (SAR) service and its benefits for disaster risk reduction and management also presented. The afternoon session focused on introducing concepts concerning a European approach to Safety, Security and Sustainability of outer space (3SOS) as well as related opportunities for collaboration.
When not working, what are your favorite activities in Thailand?
I love to travel and visit places with my kids. We love sailing and therefore we enjoy the sun, sea and breeze here. I am a vegetarian slowly drifting to become vegan and therefore Thailand seems like heaven for me with so many options of food, fresh fruits and sweets. Especially mango with sticky rice has become kind of addiction for me.
Any favorite Czech restaurants in Thailand?
Unfortunately, I am not aware of any Czech restaurants here in Thailand. There were several small restaurants in Ko Samui and Phuket, but closed down before or during Covid. I hope one day there will be a couple of Czech restaurants, like in other popular places for Czech tourists.
Have you travelled much in Thailand?
I have a bit in the past. My favorites are the islands Ko Samui and Ko Samed. I would like to visit more of the northern part of Thailand as well. I like to drive myself and explore the small cities and villages.
Any thoughts on the conflict in Ukraine?
The Russian Federation invaded for the second time (2014 annexation of Crimea) the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Russia has done this in the past, with Poland in 1939 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. The generation of my parents saw Russian tanks destroying the dream of freedom in our country and that is why the war in Ukraine is so emotional for us. We know from our own experience that the only reason for this horrible colonial imperial war is the fear of freedom, fear that the freedom and democracy may spread to totalitarian Russia as well.
Russia announced the annexation of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, which are indivisible part of Ukraine and are occupied by the Russian invasion troops. This act cannot be justified by any manipulated public vote by the guns of Russian soldiers. In this way, the Putin regime is once again flagrantly violating the basic principles of international law and threatening the security of Europe as well as the very substance of the current global order. Every single member of the international community can be endangered by such unscrupulous methods anytime in future.
Czechia strongly condemns this act, which it does not recognize and will not recognize in the future. It reiterates its full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and territorial waters. As the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU, it will work to ensure a strong and united response to this illegal and illegitimate move.
At the same time, by announcing mobilization and threatening to use weapons of mass destruction, the Russian Federation is escalating an already highly dangerous security situation in Europe, which it has caused itself by its non-provoked war of aggression against Ukraine. Once again, we strongly urge the Russian Federation to stop this war and withdraw its troops from the territory of Ukraine immediately.
Czechia, like the entire civilized world, condemns the crimes committed by the Russian armed forces in the occupied territories of Ukraine. The manipulated public vote is only a parody on a possibility of a free expression of the real will of the Ukrainian citizens living there, who are instead being intimidated, exposed to the inhuman manipulation, brutal torture and mass-killing. It is another reason why Czechia will continue to call for a creation of a special international tribunal to bring to justice all official representatives of the Russian federation responsible for the non-provoked war of aggression against the neighboring state aiming to destroy its free existence.
Despite all Kremlin´s threats, Czechia will continue to support Ukraine and its citizens in their just defence against Russia's criminal aggression and in their fight for liberating all occupied territories. Ukraine is also fighting for us, for the values on which our society is built. The Czech Republic has had its own unfortunate historical experience of appeasing an aggressor. Aggression must be fought against. Ukraine must remain free and independent.
Our president Vaclav Havel used to say that people “vote with their feet” which means people go, emigrate or flee to the place where they feel safe and secure and where they can live peacefully with their children. We see people from occupied Ukraine flee to European countries like Czechia where there are more than 400.000 refugees at the moment. They do not flee to Russia and this should be the most decisive argument in this war.
9/1993 – 7/1998 University of Economics in Prague, Faculty of Inter national Relations - International Trade & International Politics
8/2022 – present Embassy of the Czech Republic, Bangkok, Kingdom of Thailand
8/2018 – 7/2022 MFA of the Czech Republic, Consular Department
11/2013 – 8/2018 Embassy of the Czech Republic, Washington, USA
9/2011 – 7/2013 MFA of the Czech Republic, Human resources
11/2007 – 9/2011 Consulate General of the Czech Republic, Sydney, Australia
12/2004 – 10/2007 MFA of the Czech Republic, Human resources
9/2003 – 12/2004 MFA of the Czech Republic, Cabinet of the Minister
Secretary to the Minister
12/1999 – 7/2003 Embassy of the Czech Republic, New Delhi, India