Prime Minister Zeman in USA

Prime minister Milos Zeman

Prime Minister Milos Zeman is visiting the United States this week. The visit is mainly focused on possible future business contacts - not the negotiation of concrete deals, but to draw attention to the Czech Republic as an interesting business partner, and a country worth investing in. Olga Szantova reports.

While the main aim of Prime Minister Zeman's visit to the United States is to increase interest in investments in the Czech Republic, Mr. Zeman also paid attention to the international situation and the fight against terrorism. Speaking at Stanford University in California he reiterated the Czech Republic's support for the US-led military action in Afghanistan.

"Appeasement is based on the idea that if you give a black-mailer what he asks, he will stop black-mailing you. But actually, when you give a black-mailer what he demands, he considers it just the first installment and keeps coming back for more - over and over again. This is a lesson we Czechs have learned in the past and as a consequence I am afraid that if we gave in to the terrorists, they would act the same as Adolf Hitler did in the 1930s."

Prime Minister Zeman was speaking at Stanford University's Hoover Institute in Palo Alto, California. The Institute has the biggest archive of materials from and about East Europe, and has recently also taken over the archives of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. And so it did not come as a surprise, when he was asked about the future of the station, which is situated in the very center of Prague and is a possible target for terrorists. The station would be moved to the outskirts of Prague only if the United States asked for that to happen, Mr. Zeman said.

But basically, the meeting and talks at Stanford University, were only a sideline of Mr. Zeman's visit to the United States. He is spending most of his time at various industrial centers, and in talks with businessmen. In Silicon Valley, he spoke to representatives of firms dealing with modern communications technology. In San Francisco he took a ride on the local trolley-bus, one of many produced by Electric Transport International, a company based in Baltimore, and the only supplier of trolley-buses in the United States. In cooperation with the Czech Skoda Ostrov company it is to produce 148 trolley-buses for San Francisco - other American cities, including Philadelphia, are considering introducing them. Trolley-busses and trams are among the items that Prime Minister Zeman and his delegation hope to introduce to the American market.

Author: Olga Szantová
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