My Thoughts About Presentation of Michal Sedlacek, Consul General of Czech republic
On Tuesday January 27th 2015, our comparative politics class was privileged to hear from the Czech Republic’s Consul General, Michal Sedlacek. We had the opportunity to hear him discuss the current progress in the Czech Repulic and some of the steps they are taking to improve the lives of the Czech citizens and ideas they are hoping to implement in the future to move forward as a country and people. He discussed many topics such as the history of the Czech Republic, the economy, the trade and Czech relationships with other countries.
The Consul began by explaining a bit about the history of the Czech Republic, which I found very interesting. It became the Czech Republic in 1993 after being the state of Czechoslovakia since 1918. This change came about after the Velvet Revolution which occurred when Czechoslovakia reject the communist party and the country converted to a parliamentary republic. I found it very interesting that Consul Sedlacek was present for one of the most peaceful revolutions in history, and also that he has been been able to see many of the changes and much of the progress which he discussed in lecture.
In 2004 Czech Republic became part of the European Union also called the E.U. This has helped improve their relationships and trade with other European countries. When they joined the Union they agreed to someday change their currency from Czech crowns to Euros, which is what much of the Europe uses. The change has still not occurred but the Consul says this may not happen for quite sometime. The countries who agree to use the Euro must have an economy that is stable enough to make the change of currency or it might go badly. He used the example of Greece multiple times. As he spoke of their currency he also expounded on their trade and economy.
In his lecture Consul Sedlacek stated that the Czech Republic actually exports many of their goods and resources. He said their economy is very trade oriented and that their economy is based on many industrialized products. He explained that one of those major products is cars. The Czech Republic exports over one million cars per year. There are multiple car factories including Hyundai, and Toyota. He pointed out that Germany is the recipient of 60% of their exported good. So they have a strong trading relationship with the Germans and hope that this continues. They are striving to expand their trading partners, and he said it has been a bit difficult to export goods and resources to the United States but they will continue to try.
When asked about the situation in Ukraine the Consul explained a little about the Czech view of what is going on with Ukraine. He explained some of the history of Czechoslovakia including the Russian invasion after World War II. Under this rule they were not allowed to travel or even watch or listen to foreign news. Which may be some of the freedoms many today take for granted. He said the Czech people can understand what Ukraine is going through due to their own history with Russia. But also explained that their is hope for an independence from Russia, especially if we are looking at the example of Czech Republic. They have overcome soviet control and come to be very developed, they have little foreign debt, and many of their businesses have gotten better through privatization. They are also now looking forward to what they can do with energy and he explained about LNG terminals, which a pipelines that they would like to run across multiple parts of Europe providing them with multiple ports for oil.
I found the whole presentation very enlightening. It was such a privilege to hear from someone who has experienced so many things both good and bad in his country. I was very impressed with his hope in the future of the Czech Republic and his joy in how far they have come. They seem to be a very extraordinary people who have overcome multiple obstacles and continue to strive to make economic, and diplomatic progress to better the lives of their people. Overall I believe it was a great presentation.
Georgina Wolfgramm, UVU Student
Consul General of Czech Republic Michal Sedlacek
This week I had the privilege of hearing the Consul General of the Czech Republic, Michal Sedlacek speak at UVU. It was a great opportunity to hear from a foreign dignitary, and he was even kind enough to answer some questions at the end of his speech.
Consul General Sedlacek began his speech by giving us a quick breakdown of the history of the Czech Republic from it’s creation in 1918, the turmoil of World War II, life under the occupation of the Soviet Union, and life since it’s return to Democracy after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The Consul General told us that the Czech Republic joined the WTO in 1999 with the assistance of then United States President Bill Clinton. I found this to be interesting, as last year the Consul General of Vietnam spoke to UVU, and he explained that President Clinton also helped Vietnam gain admittance to the WTO and World Bank. Bill Clinton obviously made it a priority to help expand the United States role in emerging countries around the world. The Consul General spoke briefly about the Czech Republic’s role in the European Union, and how the Czech Republic has agreed to switch the Euro at some point, but they haven’t seen fit to make the transition yet.
One of the students in the class asked a great question about how the Czech Republic was able to transition from the rule of the Soviet Union, into a Democratic system of government without losing control of much of its natural resources or other economic resources like many former Soviet Bloc countries did. The Consul General explained that after the Berlin Wall fell, the emerging Czech government provided Czech citizen with a “Coupon Book” which allowed them to purchase shares in the emerging private businesses and industries that were previously under the ownership of the State. This allowed Czech citizens to gain control of their economy and industries without losing these resources to foreign enterprises.
I asked the Consul General about how the Czech Republic views the crisis in the Ukraine, as Russia still maintains a great deal of influence inside the Czech Republic. The Consul General stated that there was 2 parts to his answer, the first in terms of the opinion of the people of the Ukraine, which is sympathy toward Ukrainians, as they had experience with Germany invading the Czech Republic under the guise of “Protecting German citizens and interests there” which is similar to the propaganda that Vladimir Putin is using to justify the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. The 2nd part of the answer had to do with the Diplomatic response to the crisis in the Ukraine, which is in line with the European Union, in terms of sanctioning Russia.
I really enjoyed hearing from the Consul General, and hope that UVU will be able to bring in more guest speakers to provide a global perspective of the Political and Social climate around the world.
Jason Linde, UVU student
Czech Consular Michal Sedlacek’s Visit
Mr. Michal Sedlacek’s sudden visit in our campus on January 27, 2015 was an extraordinary experience to me. Thanks to Professor Baktybek Abdrisaev’s effort we had a chance to talk and listen to what Mr. Michal Sedlacek has to say about today’s Czech. The meeting started with a humble greetings and small introduction of Mr. Michal Sedlacek’s background and few other jokes. What surprised me was that Mr. Sedlacek used to be a ski instructor in Park City. So with brief introduction we have discussed about Czechs Economy dependence on the Germany. Mr. Sedlacek explained that how important to keep an eye on Germany move. Since 85% of the export is relied on Germany. There were also a few questions about how European Union’s role within a Czech system. It seems that Czech doesn’t like to follow the herd. According to Mr. Sedlacek’s view that following EU’s influence blindly is dangerous. The Czech must always look for many other options and keeping their domestic and foreign policy transparent and thinking outside the box seems to good path for the Czech.
During his speeches I wondered what made the Czech strong both economically and politically.
So I couldn’t resist my urge and asked Mr. Sedlacek that how did the country functioned right after the fall of communism. We all know that even today many countries having a difficult recoveries from that period. For example Moldova is known to one of the poorest in Europe.
Mr. Sedlacek’s answer was rather blunt and quite simple. He explained that during the transition period Czech government started privatization, but the way they did was to giving away to the citizens of Czech almost free. This sudden property ownership was the key change in the country it seems. What I learned from his speech was that always looking for an alternatives to improve. He explained that depending on Germany to much is not good for the Czech so right now there are many other things that is concerning Czech foreign trade policy. He anticipated that if USA steps in exporting energy to Czech it would be a good for the Czech people. Right now depending on energy from Russia is rather risky. It would be a good idea that building more pipes vertically in Czech could benefit EU and Czech. Nevertheless this is we talking about gas. However later I found out that Czech has a Nuclear Power Plants powerful enough to exporting to the outside. But dealing with an energy is requires high maneuverability of political and economic policies. Maybe we will see changes in distant future.
Munkhbat Batmunkh, UVU student, member of the Foreign Affairs club
Presentation of the Dignitary from Czech Republic before UVU students
On January 27, 2015 the Consul General for the Czech Republic, Michael Sedlacek came to UVU to give an overview of his country. He shared a brief historical outline of events that led to the current Czech Republic as we know it today, including talking about the struggles that the country had under Soviet control after World War II and the peaceful dissolution of the then country of Czechoslovakia into the two separate counties of the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993. He touched on entering NATO in 1999 where the country helped in operations with a chemical unit in case Saddam Hussain used chemical weapons upon the people of the Middle East, as well as joining the European Union in 2004.
Questions were asked from those who participated; the majority had to do with domestic issues within the country as well as differences the Consul saw between growing up under Communist rule and now. The Czech Republic GDP relies heavily on trade (80%) and 20% on domestic. The Consul made special note that 60% of all trade is done with Germany; who continues to pressure the Czech Republic to switch their currency from their Czech koruna to the Euro. Mr. Sedlacek states that by 2020 the country has plans to bring the Euro to use within the country, though he personally feels it will take 10 additional years. He also made mention that currently the GDP per capita for the country stands at 90% of the EU’s GDP. According to the Consul, the German supply chain relies heavily on Czech industry.
The country has a strong industrial sector, with three major car factories including the Skoda which he stated was over a hundred years old and is survived because Volkswagen purchased the company. This particular brand of car is popular all over the world, but because Volkswagen owns the company they will not allow the popular car to move into the United States. The other two factories are Toyota and Hyundai. The Czech Republic also is a large producer of turbines four nuclear power as well as other heavy industry. The country imports everything, but no one specific thing is imported more than another because of the open boarders of the country with other EU Nations.
Mr.Sedlacek spoke about how the Czech people are very suspicious by character, thus many continually questions EU policies. While it was noted that domestically, 70% of new laws have their beginnings in the EU, they are always careful to apply those laws to the circumstances within the country. He also made mention that the Federalists within the EU view those who have a tendency to ask questions (which in the Czech Republic is many) as trouble makers. The Consul stated that the people of the Czech Republic like to discuss things in a very democratic manner.
The final question asked was how the people in his country felt about what was going on in Ukraine. Mr. Sedlacek said that the Czech people deeply sympathize with the Ukrainians, as it was not that long ago that the Soviet’s invaded Czech territory. He mentioned that in 2009 political asylum was granted too many political figures from Ukraine. He also mentioned that like the rest of the EU passports from individuals living in Crimea are not accepted because they are Russian passports.
Deann Torsak, UVU Student