Czech PM lands China promise over civil aviation forum
The Czech Republic appears to have patched up strained relations with China and at a major investment conference in the Latvian capital, Riga, it was again business relations that took the centre stage. And the Czech prime minister believes he has landed commitments that will help boost the Czech aviation sector.
“What we agreed on today is that we are going to continue with the specific plan for cooperation which shows that Czech-China relations are good.”
The recent internal political row - after some Czech politicians allegedly broke ranks and met with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and China, apparently in a tit-for-tat reaction cancelled a visit by Czech agriculture minister Marian Jurečka – is, according to Sobotka, water under the bridge.
That was not apparently the case with neighbouring Slovakia, whose prime minister, Robert Fico, reportedly found that a meeting with Li Keqiang was cancelled in retaliation for the Slovak president’s meeting with the Dalai Lama.
“I would also like to finalize the organization of a conference in the Czech Republic which would deal with the very broad issue of civil aviation. That means organizing a forum – sixteen plus one – which would amongst other things support the certification of aircraft produced in the Czech Republic so that they can be exported to China.”
The focus on the Czech aviation industry is not a surprise. Many companies in the sector have rebounded in recent years and are tied into the production plans of some of the biggest companies worldwide, such as Airbus, Embraer, and Italy’s Finmecannica.
But there has been a downside too from such international exposure for some companies. Aircraft Industries, based at Kunovíce in the far east of the country, has suffered a sharp drop in demand from one of its main markets, Russia. This year there were fears that the Russian owner would end production in the Czech Republic and shift it to Russia. Assurances have been given that will not happen but the company is reported to be a takeover target for both the biggest domestic based aviation company, Aero Vodochody, and a Chinese investor.