‘Chandigarh vital in India-Czech relationship’s growth’

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Dr Eliska Zivoga, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic spoke to The Indian Express on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony an honorary consulate in Sector 34

Dr Eliska Zivoga, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic, on Thursday inaugurated an honorary consulate in Sector 34 —the first-of-its-kind in this region by any European Union country — with Major Guneet Chaudhary (retired) being deputed as the Honorary Consul. Later, Zivoga spoke to The Indian Express on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony. Excerpts.

Plans for Chandigarh, how will the sister city help?

Chandigarh was selected as the honorary consulate’s office in a bid to increase bilateral relations between India and the Czech Republic. Chandigarh has its unique importance. It is the capital of two states — Punjab and Haryana — and is situated close to Himachal Pradesh, as well as Jammu & Kashmir. Czech Republic has its Embassy in Delhi.

We wanted to increase our presence in India and I believe no other place was better suited to start doing so other than Chandigarh. I am sure Chandigarh will help us to understand the political scenario, cultural affairs and many other aspects of this region. We have many plans, including trade, cultural exchange, and holding the Czech film festival in Chandigarh as well as establishing a Czech Language Chair at Punjab University. The city of Zlin in the Czech Republic and Chandigarh have been planned and designed by the same architect, Le Corbusier.

What plans do you have for Punjab and Haryana?

As you are all well aware, the Czech Republic and many other countries, have lost the eastern market due to Russia-Ukraine war. Czech Republic wants to improve its business relations with India. Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, welcomed us with his Make In India perspective and we are ready to work under his vision. The potential of Punjab and Haryana are huge. The two states are hubs of agriculture. The first joint venture of the Czech Republic in India was signed around fifty years ago with HMT Pinjore. The first Zetor tractor was rolled out in 1972, exactly 50-years ago. Coincidentally, India is celebrating its 75th Independence anniversary in 2022. We were very careful in the selection of our representative, Honorary Consulate, in Chandigarh. We wanted to select a person who would have an in-depth understanding of this region and its business perspectives.

What Czech companies are present in India and what products do they make?

There are many companies operating in the fields defense equipment, Smart City projects, communications, automobiles, which have been working for Indian demands.

What are your views on the relations between Russia and India?

For Europe, relations between Indian and Russia are longstanding and traditional. Everybody was shocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

We still hope India can be an intermediary in this situation. Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has made efforts in this direction. The Indian position now is that they are against the war. We think all the democracies should come forward to tell Russia that they are wrong.

Czech Republic considers India as a partner in the Indo pacific region.

Does the Czech Republic get students from India?

Of course. Many people from this region are already settled in the Czech Republic. Plenty of students from India, particularly from this region of the country, come to the Czech Republic for pursue studies in the field of medical science, research and in other steams. The same is not true vice versa, but I believe that as our relationship increases, this scenario will change.

There is a huge potential in India and especially in this region.

What about tourism? How many Indians visit the Czech republic?
Scores of Indians visit the Czech Republic every year. In fact, we have plenty of Indian restaurants, including some Punjabi ones as well, in our country there.

Source: The Indian Express