CzechInvest: NATO summit good publicity for Prague

Summit Nato in Prague, Photo: CTK

The NATO summit might be well and truly over, but the discussion continues as to what the meeting brought to Prague - good and bad. One person very much in favour of hosting the summit was Martin Jahn, General Director of the CzechInvest agency, which promotes foreign investment in the Czech Republic. We asked Martin how the summit had made the country a more attractive place to do business.

Prague NATO Summit, Photo: CTK
"I think it is important to understand that we are in the business selling perception. Investors associate their decision with the perception of a country and the Czech Republic still has to work on their international perception regarding image. This NATO summit will put the Czech Republic on the headlines, on the international TV news. So it will again explain to the international public where the Czech Republic is and what we are all about."

The name, that Prague, the Czech Republic, will be banded around people and they will be hearing it and that will make investors think, ah maybe the Czech Republic is an interesting country?

"Absolutely, its more publicity and publicity in a good way."

And you can't think of any concrete benefits, and concrete benefits that could come from this?

"No, most of the benefits would be associated with the perception as I said and with so many influential people visiting the Czech Republic, all those hundreds of people who are visiting Prague those are opinion leaders in their countries and they talk to business they talk to other people. The investment business is word of mouth and we defiantly need this good publicity."

Preparations for the summit have cost the Czech state a vast amount of money, millions of dollars. Is that money going to come back?

"I believe so. We can't put a return on investment on it, I don't know exactly when it will repay but we know it is positive."

And there are also questions hanging over the Czech Republic as far as a country to invest in. For example, transparency international and various organisations have suggested that the level of corruption is very high in this country. Do you think that the summit is going to help in this way?

"Its hard to say in terms of transparency, fighting corruption, and bureaucracy we have to make incremental improvements. I don't think that a summit like this can change it overnight. I think it could show our commitment to being a part of international structures, it shows that we belong to the part of world that is fighting corruption in bureaucracy but it can not change things overnight."

What is the problem with the perception of the Czech Republic, how do people see it, what's wrong with the way people see it?

"If we take the broad perspective of not only European people but if we include Americans and Asians and business people we have been part of the communists block for 40 years and people do not differentiate between the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, and between other countries. What we would like them to understand that the Czech Republic is really on the top, we have a long tradition, we have had a long parliamentary democracy, we have very good schooling system. We think that they should understand that the Czech Republic can be set apart by many factors."

NATO isn't just a military organisation its also a political organisation, are there economic implications from that?

"Absolutely, I think that we have been receiving so many investments because we are a part of NATO. Companies feel security and politics are always tied to business and I think that American, French, and Germans politicians will be quite willing to protect their investments in the Czech Republic so it goes together."

Photo gallery: Prague NATO Summit