On July 9, Slovak President Andrej Kiska left for his first official bilateral foreign visit since taking office three weeks ago; his first steps led to Prague where he was received by his Czech counterpart Miloš Zeman.

The “Made in Czechoslovakia” label belongs to the past, said Kiska at a joint press conference with Zeman. “We have a “Made in Slovakia” label and a “Made in the Czech Republic” label, and each country is building up its brand for its pride and prosperity,” said Kiska as quoted by the TASR newswire. [Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has repeatedly spoken about reintroducing the “Made in Czechoslovakia” label, as the break-up of Czechoslovakia still hasn’t been noticed in some regions of the world. He also announced that in cooperation with representatives of the Czech Government he would attempt to reintroduce the label to some markets, as it used to have a high reputation in engineering and especially in the armaments industry.]

Kiska further noted that Slovakia and the Czech Republic are competitors in regard to the inflow of foreign investments which, however, doesn’t prevent good bilateral co-operation. He also welcomed some of the joint “Czechoslovak” investments. “If we can get together, we should seize that opportunity for the benefit of both countries,” Kiska said.

The two presidents agreed on the need for better transport links between Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Zeman pointed out that there is only one main direct route, to Bratislava, which he considers insufficient.

“In politics, there is the concept of personnel chemistry; which means establishing friendship and I think that by today’s meeting... we moved forward a lot in personal chemistry,” Zeman said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “Of course, President Kiska rather belongs, if I understand it well, to the centre-right, while I refer to myself as a left-wing politician, but I do not think it would be an obstacle in our mutual relations.”

While Zeman talked about chemistry, President Kiska mentioned harmony. “We are both linked by interests of the people in our countries – what the citizens of our countries need. There are many of these topics and I am glad that we have common points of view on them. Mr. President called it chemistry, I call it human harmony,” said Kiska.

The two heads of state agreed that the relations of the two countries are excellent. However, according to them both Slovaks and Czechs must work more on better road connections, and should also cooperate in defence education, and health care.

President Zeman recalled his proposal, according to which Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic should invite Slovenia to join their Visegrad Group (V4). Kiska was not so straightforward on this issue. “We will certainly very carefully handle the V4 brand, which already has its reputation, and which countries we will invite,” he said.

Kiska also met the Speaker of the Czech Senate Milan Štěch and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. He returned to Slovakia in the evening.

(Source: TASR, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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