Speech by the Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme 20th Anniversary of Belgian presence in Pribor
Dear Minister Riman,
Dear deputy Hejtman Novak
Dear Mayor Strakos (pronounce StrakoSj),
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is great to be here together with the many Czech and Belgian Friends of Primus who made the trip to Pribor.
Dear Mr. Coppieters,
A century of existence and two decades of presence in the Czech Republic are indeed momentous anniversaries.
This month of August is a good occasion for remembering; exactly twenty years ago the Soviet empire started to fall apart.
Even though the West had rushed to embrace the countries of Central– and Eastern Europe so as to extricate them out of the grips of communism, the situation in Central Europe was still very fragile then.
What helped to restore confidence after the fall of the Berlin Wall were dynamic, small scale business initiatives that contributed to a sense of normalcy and peaceful democracy after forty years of communist dictatorship.
In this spirit, some Belgian businessmen ventured, twenty years ago, into what for them was the great unknown market in the center of Europe. They found an eager workforce ready to expand their horizon, their production, their markets.
The Primus owners were one of them. They had the courage to develop their business in a country where language and customs are not immediately familiar.
Back home, they were regarded with skepticism at first….
You told us, Mr. Coppieters, that expanding the production in the Czech Republic was actually what allowed the company to grow.
What has captured my attention in this story is the synergy that has been created between a small village in the West of Belgium, named Gullegem, and a small village in the East of the Czech Republic, named Pribor.
I brought along today the Belgian Mayor of the commune to which this little village now belongs. I wanted Mayor Jan Seynhaeve to witness firsthand how the company in Pribor has had a beneficiary impact on his village and vice versa I wanted him to see how the Primus company in Pribor has grown thanks to the ingenious people of Gullegem. The company has devoted a great deal of its resources to R&D during the past economic crisis, and we hope, has armed itself for the future.
Primus was able to live a European success story and this is no doubt also thanks to the help and the goodwill of the local politicians.
So I take this opportunity to also honor them. I want to recognize in particular the Mayor of Pribor, Mr. Milan Strakos (pronounce StrakoSJ) and the Hejtman of the Moravian-Silesian Region represented by his deputy Mr. Miroslav Novak.
Prime Minister Necas delegated his closest advisor here, former Minister Martin Riman who devoted his career to creating a good business climate ; his support , I know , is greatly appreciated here.
Earlier this morning Prime Minister Necas and I exchanged some views on the current situation in Europe. We both agreed that a strengthening of the Internal Market is an essential framework for furthering the cooperation across the borders. The Cooperation between our small and medium size companies is key, it is what brings Europe alive.
Primus has set an example for a series of other Belgian companies. Many are here represented either through their Belgian or through their Czech managers. I am very happy you could join us. I hope to meet each one of you later today.
It seems that the Primus company has organized quite a party for us. I learned today that Czech people when they commit some serious celebrations use a term – Flamovat – a word that finds its origin in the name of my countrymen, the Flemings. It goes back to the seventeenth century when some 20.000 Flemings had joined the armies of the Czech general Waldstein in the Thirty-Year war.
I am no historian and cannot vouch for the truth of this story but I can certify that Flemings and Belgians in general love a good party.
I wish Primus all the success with these celebrations and hope it will be a good omen for the future.
Evropa potrebuje mnohem vice synergie jako Pribor a Gullegem.
(Europe needs many more Pribor -Gullegem synergies.)