Czech PM Backs Investment in Myanmar as State Counselor Visits Prague

By Nan Lwin 4 June 2019

YANGON—Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said he sees great potential in economic relations with Myanmar as the country modernizes its economy, during a meeting with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Prague on Monday.

The “Myanmar market offers our companies plenty of investment opportunities. I believe that they will be getting more and more into Myanmar,” Babiš said, according to a statement from the Czech government.

“We talked about a possible visit of our companies to do business in Myanmar,” he said during the press conference.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is currently in Prague for a four-day official goodwill visit  at the invitation of the prime minister. She plans to address the Czech-Myanmar Business Forum organized by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic.

During her meeting with the Czech prime minister, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed investment from the Czech companies, saying Myanmar is the “last frontier of Southeast Asia” for investors.

At a press conference after the meeting, Babis praised Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for “making the necessary democratic changes…so Myanmar could open up to the world after years.”

The State Counselor is scheduled to preside over the opening of Myanmar’s new embassy in Prague during her visit, according to a Myanmar government statement.

Babiš said that after 26 years without an embassy, the opening of the missoin “will certainly help to develop our cooperation in many areas.”

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the reopening of the embassy is “a sign that relations between [the] countries are developing greatly”.

Myanmar once had strong diplomatic ties with Prague. Ahead of the emergence of independent Czech and Slovak republics, the embassy of Czechoslovakia in Yangon was closed on Dec. 31, 1992. In response, Myanmar closed its embassy in Prague on Jan. 1, 1993. Since then the two nations have engaged through the Czech Embassy in Bangkok and the Myanmar Embassy in Berlin.

After nearly 21 years, the Czech Embassy in Yangon re-opened in February 2014.

“We have always had a warm friendship with the Czech Republic,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.

During the meeting, Babiš said Prague’s humanitarian and development aid to Myanmar, which is focused mainly on education, health care and disaster relief, accounts for close to 10 percent of the total humanitarian budget of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The late Vaclav Havel, who became the first president of the Czech Republic when democracy replaced 41 years of one-party rule by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1992, was a close friend of the State Counselor. He nominated her for the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2013, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited the Czech Republic to attend the Forum 2000 Conference, which was founded by Havel.

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