In 2018 the CDCC expanded its activities to support Slovak businesses and entrepreneurs in the Netherlands and built a foundation for a closer cooperation with the Slovak Embassy. We asked Mr. Buzek, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic several questions about the Slovak Embassy’s plans for 2019, main priorities and some more.
Mr. Roman Bužek was appointed the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in September 2015. Prior to his current role he served as the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Ireland and Denmark and assumed other functions representing his country, including Director General, International Organizations and ODA Division at MFA and Director at UN department.
Since your appointment as the Slovak Ambassador in September 2015, what do you consider to be the most significant successes of the Slovak economic diplomacy in the Netherlands? I am glad that Slovakia is among the limited number of countries that have active trade statistics with the Netherlands. Though the bulk of Slovakia´s export to the Netherlands is made by the cars. I did my best to raise the general awareness of both public and business people about Slovakia, which is regrettably still low.
What are the main initiatives of the Embassy planned for 2019? In late May 2019, the Slovak Embassy together with the Visegrad colleagues is going to organize the V4 startups event in Rotterdam. The main aim is to introduce talented V4 start-ups from the ICT sector to Dutch investors. We want to present the V4 region as being innovative and of course attract more foreign capital. I truly appreciate the Czech – Dutch Chamber of Commerce support in organizing the event.
Slovakia currently presides over the Visegrad Group (V4). That brings you additional responsibilities and tasks. What are these? The main task is to increase public awareness of this very specific part of Europe, which has a lot of potential in various fields: economy, culture, tourism etc.
Do you consider V4 being still a relevant and beneficial organization for the Central European countries in today’s world? If so, in which areas do you see its most important contribution? Yes, it is. Visegrad Four is quite specific and the countries face very similar challenges which makes this grouping very relevant even today after fulfilling its original ultimate goal from early 90th – joining euroatlantic organizations. Still there is a lot of common challenges and tasks. The most important are those in the field of infrastructure. We need to improve both the highways and railways interconnections. Another “never ending” task is to improve the mutual knowledge and understanding. Especially in the current Europe.
In which sectors do you see the best chances for Slovak companies to succeed in the Netherlands?
There is definitely a potential in the ICT sector, especially for software and IT technologies for financial institutions. Opportunities are also in the engineering sector. Overall, high-quality innovative products have the best chance to succeed on the Dutch market. Another sector is tourism. Slovakia is a beautiful country with great mountains and untouched nature. It is definitely worth to discover for the Dutch people.
In the opposite direction, in which industries have Dutch entrepreneurs most chances for success in Slovakia? I would like to stress that the Netherlands is and has been one of the 10 most important business partners of Slovakia. When it comes to specific industries, these are definitely financial services, technologies and food industry.
Given the historic connections between the two countries, to what extent the Slovak and Czech Embassy in The Hague interact with each other? Do you work on some joint initiatives? Our co-operation – both between the countries and Embassies as well – is just excellent. I would like to point out the concert in late October 2018 to mark 100th anniversary of the creation of former Czecho-Slovakia. Some participants even experienced problems in understanding why we celebrated a state which does not exist anymore. We did so because Czecho-Slovakia was a great project and deserves to be commemorated. Due to both the way it functioned and the way it ceased to exist: in a very mannerly, negotiated way. Leaving the two close nations as big friends.
Since last year the Slovak Embassy has started to work together with the CDCC? As the first joint initiative, you hosted a business speed dating and reception last June. How was that event received by the Slovak community? From the feedback that we got from them, I can tell it was a great success. The Slovak entrepreneurs and expats seemed to very much enjoy the possibility to meet other interesting Czech and Dutch people from their field. We hope to organize a similar event this year as well.
Do you plan any future joint events? Perhaps another business speed dating as I just mentioned. There is also going to be a New Year’s reception in the end of January, which we are hosting together. CDCC is also one of our partners helping with the organization of the V4 startups event. I am looking forward to our future cooperation and joint events.
What would you wish our members and other readers for 2019? I would like to wish everyone great health and a lot of success in both personal life and business.