We, the Czech people, who inhabit a land-locked country in the Heart of Europe, have inherited from our forefathers a little bit romantic fairy-tale notion of Africa as a rather distant “magic land where everything is possible.” The picture of Africa available to our current generation is less fancy, more to the point and closer to reality but, very frankly, I still prefer to believe in Africa where everything is possible.
In current world our media are referring only about clashes, tragic events, conflicts, collisions, extremist groups: similar reports are coming from Africa, too.
But I believe it is possible for the Africans to overcome the many challenges on their journey to successfully building societies with modern effective good governance institutions that encourage transparency and respect the rule of law. I believe in open and fully inclusive political space in Africa which will still remain in harmony with its inner voice, respectful to its colourful traditions.
Africa has experienced consistent growth in recent years, despite the global economic slowdown. With IMF’s latest predictions of around 4% growth in Africa in 2016 and perhaps even more in 2017, I certainly do believe in Africa as a good place for long-term investments. I also believe that effective autonomous African security architecture could be built that will be able to take care of the continent’s security and stability, which is so essential for sustainable development in accordance with the UN Agenda 2030.
Our world of today is highly interconnected and interdependent. Distances are made almost irrelevant, Africa is no more perceived as a distant continent, but as our close neighbour.
This may be one of the reasons for which the Czech Republic has in recent years substantially increased its active involvement in Africa. The other reason is that we understand very well, that Europe and Africa, the Czech Republic and African states, share a number of common immediate and long-term interests – security, stability and sustainable development in Africa is vital for the development, stability and security in Europe.
The Czech Republic in its current engagement towards Africa builds also upon the inheritance of the former Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovak experts implemented many investment projects in a number of African countries, especially in the fields of energy and construction and engineering industries. Many Africans studied in our country.
Czechoslovakia supported the struggle of Africans for their independence and supported the development of partner African countries. The Czech Republic will continue to share with its African partners its experience gained in the process of building a modern open society and economy. We are also prepared to share our know-how, technologies and skills.
I am convinced – despite the daily headlines that scream doom and gloom – the world is actually coming together, not falling apart. Despite the prognosis of clash of civilisations, I believe in fusion of civilisations.
I hope and believe that we will use all existing potential and succeed in bringing the partnership between the Czech Republic and Africa to a new level soon.
Minister of Foreign Affairs.