September 2017 \ Interviews \ COUNTRY FOCUS: SLOVAK REPUBLIC
“We are an attractive investment destination in Central Europe”

H.E. Mr Zigmund Bertok, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic in India, speaks to India Empire’s Editor and Publisher Sayantan Chakravarty at the Embassy in New Delhi...

  • H.E. Mr Zigmund Bertok, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to India

Would you consider Indo-Slovakian relations are at an all-time high at this present moment?

Our relations with India are historical, continuing from the time when we were part of Czechoslovakia, and later transitioning into the peaceful breakup into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. We are a part of the European Union. Since India’s relation with the EU has been elevated to the level of a Strategic Partnership, our bilateral ties have grown significantly. We are adapting to new developments in the world.

Please give us a sense of bilateral trade between the countries…

Slovakia is a partner and a member of the European Union. It is cooperating with India under the same conditions set by the EU in the strategic partnership. Our activities are basically to improve mutual trade and also expand on mutual cooperation. The Indian Government has introduced several new topics and set many goals to grow the country’s economy. We are looking beyond mere export and import. Indian policies provide us with an opportunity to present Slovak companies for expanding business ties with your nation. So our main priority is to push Slovak companies in India.

Who are the major Indian investors in Slovak Republic at the moment and vice versa?

Let us look at the bigger perspective. Slovakia’s population is something like 5.5 million. We are at the heart of Central Europe with Hungary on the South, Ukraine in the East. It is attractive for Indian investors to not just focus on smaller markets like Slovakia, but the entire Central European region. Yes, you could say we are like a gateway to many European countries, being so central. At the same time we provide an opportunity to India to counter-balance Chinese activities in European markets. Having realized the potential of Slovakia as a Central European destination which is part of the EU, the Tata Group is constructing an over-1.5 billion-Euro factory in our country. We are looking for more such Indian partners to come to Slovakia. Likewise, we have Slovak firms in IT businesses and startups in India. We are looking at opportunities in tourism, chemicals, food stuff. A MoU has been signed with the Indian Railways. If we look at Indian-origin investors, I understand L N Mittal, the steel tycoon, has several offices in Slovakia. With each passing month, the cooperation between our two nations is on the rise. The idea is to keep focusing on services and manufacturing that bring in high value addition.