Interview with H.E. Mr. Vladimír Bärtl, Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Luxembourg

We visited recently H.E. Mr. Vladimír Bärtl, Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Luxenbourg for an interview. His Excellency has answered our questions in depth, providing a lot of interesting information on his activities

By Hans Weber and Pietro Andrea Podda

Dear Mr. Vladimír Bärtl

Thank you for taking your time for interview with Prague Forum

Prague Forum – How long are you already posted in Luxembourg and where before.

Vladimír Bärtl – I have been posted to Luxembourg since February 2020. I have previously worked in Canada and France, but my last posting before Luxembourg was as Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade and EU at the Ministry of Industry and Trade. However, it is fair to say that I have spent almost half of my professional life in the private sector.

Prague Forum – Have you visited many parts of Luxembourg and what did you like most?

Vladimír Bärtl – I have had the chance to visit all regions of Luxembourg; given the non-standard sanitary situation that began very soon after my arrival, I have not had the opportunity to visit as many companies and businesses as I would have liked, but I firmly believe that with the pandemic receding I will have that opportunity.

I cannot say which part of Luxembourg I like better; the whole country is very well kept and the fact that one does not have to fight one’s way from the city to the countryside through miles of industrial suburbs is one of the great strengths of the Grand Duchy.

Prague Forum –Which is your favorite place in Luxembourg?

Vladimír Bärtl – Among Luxembourg’s many paradoxes is the fact that the small Grand Duchy has so many natural beauties and historical sites that it is difficult to choose just one favorite among them. Moreover, Luxembourg is the kind of country that can show surprising charms as the seasons change.

Prague Forum – Can you tell us something about your hobby (pilot)

Vladimír Bärtl – I inherited my love of flying from my dad, who is still an active pilot at the age of 85. I was a member of the Ottawa and Versailles Aero Clubs, as well as now here in Luxembourg. In addition to the opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the host country, through club life one gets to know other people than officials and diplomats.

Back in the days when I headed the Foreign Trade and EU section at the MIT, I used to take the opportunity to fly to the Councils on board Czech sport aircrafts or ULs (Zlin or Fascination). This way I flew to Farnborough, Tallinn, Luxembourg, Innsbruck, Helsinki… It allows you to experience the journey differently; and as they say, the journey might become the destination.

Prague Forum – Why did you change from MPO to diplomacy?

Vladimír Bärtl – I had previously worked in diplomacy before MIT – at headquarters, then 4 years in Canada and 4 years in France. Along with working in the private sector, the Foreign Service has become one of my work habitats. I did not originally intend to spend nearly 6 years at MIT, but the situation eventually called for it. I think that after a certain period of time, both the person and the position can benefit from a change. And for me, returning to the Foreign Service was a natural choice.

Prague Forum – What is the main difference between Luxembourgian and Czech people.

Vladimír Bärtl – First of all, it must be said that of the approximately 600,000 inhabitants of the Grand Duchy, almost half are of non-Luxembourg nationality. It is therefore fair to admit that the behaviour of the inhabitants of Luxembourg is not only a typical manifestation of Luxembourgers, but also a cosmopolitan mixture of other nations. This already implies one great feature of the country – its openness. Another charm of Luxembourgers is their ability to draw the best from their neighbours; the combination of German organisation and French “joie de vivre” creates a pleasantly balanced environment.

I think that both Luxembourgers and Czechs tend to focus on niches; and although the ability of Luxembourgers to agree on national priorities in the long term and then stick to them is more visible, this is also true for the Czechia, come to think of it.

Prague Forum –What are the main matters concerning the relationships between the Czech Republic and Luxembourg?

Vladimír Bärtl – A good basis for our relations is our common history; the period of the Luxembourgers on the Czech throne marked a period of prosperity for both countries, on which our modern countries are to some extent based.

In many areas we are natural partners – in trade policy, internal market issues, etc. We differ in our view on how to achieve carbon neutrality, where we realistically count on nuclear power, which is not popular here, especially because of the presence of the French power plant Cattenom within sight of the Luxembourg capital.

The Luxembourgers are one of the most important investors in the Czech Republic; we have a lot to offer in technological areas – precision engineering, aerospace, nanotechnology and many others.

Prague Forum – Is there a significant Czech community in Luxembourg ? What are the main occupations of the Czechs here ?

Vladimír Bärtl – The number of Czech expatriates is not exactly known, but it is said to be about 2000-3000 people. Many of them work in the EU institutions, but they are also employed in the financial sector, education and health care.

Prague Forum – Do you cooperate with the representatives of the Czech Government for the European Union (whose institutions are mainly in Bruxelles) or does your activity concerns exclusively the relationship with the national authority of Luxembourg ?

Vladimír Bärtl – We are a bilateral embassy, so our focus is on Luxembourg administration and business. However, we are in close contact with our permanent representation in Brussels and are available to help logistically or with our embassy facilities if needed – especially during periods when Councils are held in Luxembourg.

Prague Forum – Irrespective of the answer to the point 3), how do you see the close future of the EU ? Will the European Union members manage to find a common platform again after the Covid crisis has basically be managed at the level of the individual states?

Vladimír Bärtl – I think that the period of covid, especially in the early stages, showed the weaknesses of the EU, from which we can draw a number of lessons learned. It is our duty to be optimistic, as Immanuel Kant said, so I believe that the Recovery Fund, for example, is a proof that the EU is operational and will face any future crises more united.

Thank you very much for your time

 

 

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