Although this strange coronavirus year did not favour social activities, the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute managed to hold a number of the beneficial meetings and meet most of the obligations towards compatriots abroad.
Last summer, when life returned to almost normal for a while, several interesting discussions were held in the Institute. The discussion with one of the youngest heads of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassadors and Deputy Ministers, Rudolf Jindrák, Director of the Foreign Department of the Office of the President of the Republic, met with great interest from members and supporters of the Czech Foreign Institute. He assured those present, for example, that despite all the shortcomings, the Czech Republic now has the best relations with neighbouring countries, mainly due to the existence of the Visegrad Group. He also rated relations with Germany, where he served in the diplomatic service for 12 years, as beneficial. He confirmed that Germany directly influences development in the Czech Republic.
Slovak Ambassador Peter Weiss, who ended his diplomatic mission in the Czech Republic after seven years, also accepted the invitation to a discussion at the Institute. He agreed with the participants that Czech- Slovak relations need to be maintained at all the times. There have been proposals for regular discussions in the media between the two countries’ experts on the most important current problems and for both countries to regularly invest in the permanent cooperation of secondary schools and regular exchanges of their pupils.
Jaromír Marek, a permanent correspondent for Czech Radio, came to discuss Britain and Brexit. In Britain, where he has been working since 2017, he experienced an excited period after the referendum on the country’s withdrawal from the European Union. Given that, in the 63 years of European integration in the form of the European Economic Community and now the European Union, no Member State has yet left the Union, this topic has generated considerable interest in political and commercial circles.
The second wave of the covid-19 pandemic, with a number of the patients many times higher, forced further extraordinary security measures with a strict ban on mass events, and social rooms at the Institute were abandoned for months.
Nevertheless, the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute managed to live up to the promises given to compatriot schools abroad, which thus received new, modern didactic aids and technical equipment.
When, after nine months, a meeting of the Managing Board of the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute could take place again, the members were satisfied that funds had been collected for the purchase of art equipment and touch panels for Czech schools in Croatia and Vienna, for the contribution to the technical equipment of the theatre hall and computer technology for the classrooms of schools in Vienna, as well as for contributions to cultural social activities of Czech associations in Slovakia.
The reward for the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute is words and written thanks from compatriot associations and schools. Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen, for example, awarded the member of the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute, the former Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Austria, Jan Sechter, the Great Golden Decoration on Ribbon (Grosses Goldenes Ehrenzeichen am Bande) for his contribution to the renaissance of Czech-Austrian relations. The Austrian side appreciated his contribution to the improvement of communication channels in the field of nuclear energy and his contribution to the creation of a project of border cooperation between the South Moravian Region, the South Bohemian Region and the Highland Region with Lower Austria, which concerns water management, transport, disaster protection or emergency services.
Order of the Star of Italy, a state decoration for foreign personalities or Italians living abroad who have significant merit in the development of cooperation and friendship relations between Italy and other states, then Italian President Sergio Mattarella awarded a member of the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute, a former Czech diplomat, photographer and businessman Pavel Kopp, a member of the Honorary Council of the Italian-Czech Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In cooperation with Czech & Slovak Leaders