Czech consul general in New York: We are proud to see Czech companies succeed in North America

New York

The Consulate General of the Czech Republic based in New York City has jurisdiction over ten states across the eastern part of the United States. On a visit to Prague, Consul General Arnošt Kareš spoke with Amelia Mola Schmidt about the work he does to promote Czech business, connect with the Czech diaspora, and the history of the oldest Czech consulate abroad.

“The Consulate of the Czech Republic in New York is an integral part of the diplomatic network in the United States. We represent Czechia on the east coast, and it has a rich history dating back to the early 20th century. Diplomatic relations between the United States and former Czechoslovakia began in 1918 after we declared our independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire on October 16th, 1918.

Declaration of Independence of the Czechoslovak Nation by its Provisional Government | Photo: Ondřej Tomšů,  Radio Prague International

“President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk wrote a letter to his friend František Kopecký effectively entrusting him with the process of opening a Czechoslovak consulate in New York. It is evident that the consulate in New York was the first established Czechoslovak consulate. It started its activities on October 30th, 1918. Unfortunately, the Consulate General stopped its activities after February 1948.”

That pause in activities was because of the communist regime and the consulate did not reopen until 1997, correct?

Boston | Photo: rad0404,  Pixabay,  Pixabay License

“That’s correct, and there were some hiccups on the way to reopening the consulate. However, it was important to reopen it because of the strong concentration of business opportunities in New York, and the close proximity of other industrial cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Boston.”

Was there a lot of interest amongst Czechs to come and visit the US after the fall of the Iron Curtain and is there still a lot of interest to this day?

“Definitely, it’s a lively city, and it’s a melting pot of nations. There are a lot of Czechs located in and around New York City. The concentration within my ten states of jurisdiction is very high.”

How much do you interact with the Czech and Slovak diaspora within the ten states you serve?

“On a regular basis, we definitely serve them as a consular hub on the east coast. So we provide them with all the necessary consular needs that they require in their daily life.”

Slovak and Czech flags  | Photo: ČT24

Switching over to business, do you help Czech companies find a foothold on the US market, and are there any companies that have specific potential within the ten states you serve?

“Definitely, the US market has been and still is our number one export destination outside of Europe, and it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. The US market has huge potential for Czech companies, it takes strong business skills to be a strong competitor on the US market, and I am so proud that we are able to see Czech companies succeed in North America and New York City where the competition is so high.”

Is there anything unique about the jurisdictions you serve compared to the rest of the country?

“I would say the competition is very tough. Czech companies have to be ready to invest a lot of time and money into PR and marketing in order to penetrate the market and be successful.”

How closely do you work with other diplomats based in the US, like Ambassador Miloslav Stašek?

The mural of T. G. Masaryk and his wife Charlotte on a wall in Chicago | Photo: Klára Stejskalová,  Radio Prague International

“We are an integral part of the diplomatic network and we are connected to more consulates across the country like in Chicago and LA. But based on proximity, the closest relations we maintain are with the Czech Embassy in D.C. We are always trying to find synergies and multiplication effects, not only in economic diplomacy, but also in public diplomacy as well.”