Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is pleasure to welcome you here this evening at the Estonian Embassy.
Estonians followed the floods in your country in August with deep concern and solidarity. The Czech Republic has always had a unique and special significance for Estonians. Your country is not only a popular tourist destination for Estonians but we are also great admirers of your literature. Authors such as Nemcova, Hašek and Kundera, to name but a few, are extremely popular in Estonia.
Watching events unfold in the Czech Republic during those difficult weeks of flooding was distressing. As to Český Krumlov, this is not the first time that nature has left its mark on your beautiful town. Unfortunately, this summer, flood waters washed over your town not once but twice.
In the year 2000, former president of Estonia Lennart Meri visited Český Krumlov during the course of his state visit to the Czech Republic. This visit left an unforgettable impression on him and the delegation of businessmen accompanying him.
Český Krumlov has a great deal in common with our capital city Tallinn. Both are blessed with a unique old town consisting of narrow streets lined with historic buildings and crowned by a majestic fortress. Both are included in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites and are considered important tourist destinations.
Like Český Krumlov, Estonia is fond of fine arts. We therefore wanted to channel our assistance towards this sector. And so, together with the Mayor of Český Krumlov, Mr Antonin Princ, we selected the Egon Schiele Art Centrum and the International Art Studio. It gives us great pleasure to contribute to Český Krumlov’s recovery through the restoration of these two internationally well-known sites. We also hope that our co-operation with these two centres will not end but starts here. We hope to continue to develop fruitful bilateral co-operation with you in the future namely through these two art centres. For example, by organising exhibitions or providing arts students with internship opportunities.
Like Český Krumlov, we too were affected by the August floods. Upon entering this building you no doubt noticed that our Embassy suffered rather heavy damages. Yet we are pleased that the embassy was able to continue its work, admittedly with severe complications. We would like to thank everybody who helped the Embassy during these difficult times. And I am glad to notice that some of them are with us here today. May I therefore take this opportunity and forward our sincere thanks to Mr. Rupprecht Queitsch, General Manager of Prague Marriott Hotel, for providing shelter to our evacuated Embassy during the very first difficult weeks of the flood. Also, we would like to extend our gratitude to the Czech ambassador to Estonia Vladislav Labudek, who personally provided the Embassy with financial assistance.
We hope that repairs to the Embassy will proceed quickly and look forward to resuming work at full capacity as soon as possible. This is especially important in light of the upcoming NATO summit, which is naturally very important to us. We are already your partners at the EU negotiating table and hope to soon join you at the NATO table, too.
Dear guests, let me turn now to our guests from Český Krumlov.
Mr Mayor, dear representatives of the city of Český Krumlov, I am honoured to have the mandate to inform you that the Government of the Republic of Estonia decided on October 1st to support with 1 million Estonian Kroons – approximately DVA MILIONY KORUN ČESKÝCH – the reconstruction of Egon Schiele Art Centrum and International Art Studio in the city of Český Krumlov that were recently affected by devastating floods.
Let me hereby extend to you a letter confirming the decision by the Estonian Government to grant assistance to your city and wish to you every success in the restoration of Český Krumlov.