zprávy z Mongolska

Ivana Grollova: You can proudly pay for good quality for your country...

Ivana Grollova: You can proudly pay for good quality for your country... - obrázek

Ivana Grollova: You can proudly pay for good quality for your country... - obrázek

The following exclusive interview is with the Ambassador of Czech Republic in Mongolia, Ivana Grollova, on the current and future cooperation between the two countries and Mongolian culture. More...

-Although you have not been in Mongolia for long, you know a lot about the country. What more do you know about Mongolia, what is your opinion of it?
-I have graduated from the Mongolian studies unit at the Czech Charles University in Prague. Therefore, I had some understanding of Mongolia even before getting married. Of course, living here an ordinary daily life for some time, especially during the years of the supply difficulties in the beginning of the ´90s or during the years of great expectations before the Asian crisis some five years later, made me understand some aspects in more detail.
What I still struggle with, for example, is the different approach to planning things. I tend to think things through in advance, although you can get to the same point just ad-hoc; in the very last minute. Maybe with age I have learned how to relax and be more patient, so now I can coordinate with you slightly better.
On the other hand, as business obligations taught many of my Mongolian friends to drink less and care about time more, their approach also slowly grows closer to mine.

-Have becoming a family with a Mongolian descendant change your mind about Mongolia in any way?
-I think I can now better understand the dilemma and difficulties of a society with nomad traditions and psychology, once it decides to modernize. As a student I kept looking at you as source for folklore and linguistic research. Those who did not live in ger with their livestock were not “proper Mongols” for me. But I did not think of how much of the technology progress as well as food security requires habits of settled civilization or at least close interconnection with settled cultures. If you, however, do not want to follow the fate of Kidans of the 10th century, you face enormous task to keep track of technological development, make cities, vegetable farms or industrial parks as effective as possible, and at the same time implement that technological development also in the areas that you succeed to protect as nomadic in nature. It needs vision, leading personalities, great deal of internal cooperation and planning… well, and here we are “back in square one”…

-We heard that you are specialized in the study of Mongolian and Russian languages. What can you say about the culture of Mongolians?
-There are many things I appreciate in Mongolian culture a lot. Much of the tradition has nevertheless also been strangely twisted during the Soviet era. For instance, equality and protection of women here was natural and even a part of the law codex of Great Yasa of the 13th century. It can hardly be otherwise in society where members of isolated ail depend each on another in all the difficult situations of life in steppes or deserts. In times of socialism, however, working women became even more discriminated. I think it was because of frustration of men who could not economically sustain their families enough and could not risk conflict with the regime either. This was similar in the Czech society, too. But the danger continues now – in the lack of professional skills and knowledge by young and mid-aged Mongolian men. It results into lack self-confidence, frustration and xenophobic behavior. Like in nature, female seeks protectors for her children, a real head of her family – and only an active male, not just aggressive loser, can attract her. The culture may be in danger if Mongolian men give up – and I appreciate the current security strategy of Mongolia mentions the gene-fund protection, too. Besides the health and physical cultivation, the way out of the danger leads in education (including middle-school technical professions and vocational training), entrepreneurship and discipline. Not everybody has to be super rich – but it is important to be smart and worth of self -respect, so the respect and tolerance to women come along.
Very much the same can be said about your traditional relationship to nature and environment. As a foreign student I was taught about 13th century natural reservations or warned that no Mongolian should wash his knife in river water – to avoid the anger of the river spirits. In other words, to avoid water pollution and potential transmission of diseases. Culture has poetic explanations for very practical principals of survival! Previous times have not, however, prepared you for pollution from chemicals, for non-recyclable plastic waste which flows down your rivers, fills all abandoned corners of the streets or covers the whole valleys that used to be the sacred ones. The times of eco-waste are – at least for the time being – over. To say “by tradition the nomads would not interfere with the nature around” is not a solution. Now you produce and consume more – and therefore should care more about your impact on your own environment. You are now becoming the modern nomads – who have to find their harmony with nature again, now with the help of modern approaches and know-how. Otherwise – similarly as in centuries ago – the “offended or hurt sacred spirits of your nature”, the burkhans, would not let you survive!

-As an Ambassador of a country, what would be your plan on expanding social and economic cooperation between the two countries?
-As an ambassador I am happy to introduce companies who bring modern technologies and know-how on ecologically high level of standards. In our development cooperation projects we also help you to learn the use of this know-how. There are lots of Czech goods that can be sold on your market, and it is more and more really just first-quality or even luxury stuff – food products, glass and lights, construction materials or furniture, even pianos. Exchange of students, professional advisory, projects on vocational training or support to schools and working units of people with disabilities – those are the activities that help to take the social development further. And culture makes the life nicer and more interesting – so I plan, to the extent our budget allows – to support also different entertaining cultural events. Actually – the earliest of them would be a film version of the theatre performance “Leaving” by our ex-president Václav Havel in the Black Box theatre on 23rd November, within the frame of the EU Film Festival.

-Mongolia and Czech Republic have a long relationship in the geology sector. Is it possible to have Czech geologists come and work in Mongolia, just like it was in the pre-democratic Mongolia? Is Czech Republic interested in this?
-Besides Czech geologists who cooperate with their Mongolian partners in search for mineral resources on smaller scale business basis, there are specialized companies, especially in hydro-geology, who can do highly professional research of water resources and their mapping. With the aim to develop new mining sites, industrial zones or modern cities and urban areas, to know water potential of these sites and have detailed plan of where to bring the water from or how to distribute it, is crucial. Czech geologists are already experienced in working with private developers, a new development project financed by the Czech Government is being prepared to teach your water drilling companies how to make proper research before the drilling, not to waste energy and resources on very expensive drilling procedures. But asking about the pre-democratic Mongolia time, we should keep in mind those where different. Those were the times of COMECom where much of the economic relations were centralized, non-purely market-oriented and often based just on barter-exchange. I can imagine that the Soviet Union needed minerals from Mongolia, so they ordered the Czechs to provide geology research and paid them either with money or by allowing them to transport part of the excavated minerals (for that time extremely low transport fees) to Czechoslovakia. That is why the presence of our specialists could be so massive. We are not in that situation anymore. The Czech Government has still financed some development projects that included geological research or water drilling – but with the aim to help Mongolian social or professional development (bringing water to pastures or schools, teaching your geologists how to protect drilling instruments in the permanent-frost layers etc.). For other type of business, the market economy rules apply in the Czech Republic as well as in Mongolia. Individual professional companies can bid against other competitors for particular government procurement contracts or bank financing, while other middle-scale projects are based on normal business contract. The services provided should be paid for as anywhere else in the world where our experts are involved. Mongolia is currently one of the fastest growing economies in the world and it does not need to go begging from the others. You are already the ones who, with transparent and supportive business environment, can provide business opportunities and jobs to the others yourselves. You can proudly pay for good quality your country, your nature, your homes and your children deserve.

-Currently, there are over 3,000 Mongolian citizens living in Czech Republic. Out of this 3,000, there are many who are there illegally. Is there a chance that the ones who have been there for many years can become Czech citizens in the future?
Every citizen interested in obtaining Czech citizenship should follow the standard legal procedure. As far as I am aware, the Czech Republic is not considering any “amnesty” for illegals or their children – but on the other hand, we welcome everybody who is interested in legally becoming our citizens and working with us towards further development of the Czech Republic and the EU. But, please, think about Mongolia first, because your own country needs educated, experienced and enthusiastic Mongolian citizens with the “European” potential more than anything else!

-Lately, the Czech Government has been returning Mongolians with expired visas (illegal immigrants) to their home countries after issuing 500 Euros to them before deportation. How effective is this method and what is its current progress? How many Mongolians have returned to their countries so far?
Speaking about the Czech Government’s support of 500 Euros for return, I think you are referring to the situation several years ago, when the economic crisis in Europe resulted in closure of several factories around the region. In many of them foreign workers remained trapped without jobs and with no means to return. In its project of voluntary returns, our Government offered one-time opportunity for those who wanted to leave for home, granting them money to cover their transport expenses and to help them re-integrate to the country of origin. Hundreds of Mongolian workers used that opportunity at the time.

-There are many who are denied visas to Czech Republic in Mongolia; how can this be avoided and what are the main concerns on issuing visas?
The Czech Republic is now a member of the Schengen territory. Therefore, issuing the Czech visa, it automatically issue visas for the whole Schengen region. We are therefore bound by the same rules as any other Schengen country. We are, at the same time, an open country that welcomes tourists as well as businessman who follow our legal rules and by their presence help to develop our touristic market and economy. The central authorities therefore only refuse to issue visas to those who do not meet the requested criteria or have some history of illegal activities or visa-regime breaks in any of the Schengen states. The same safety rules are followed by your country, too. The consular section of the Embassy can, on the other hand, only accept applications that have all necessary administrative aspects in order and once the objective pursued by the applicant is supported by his document. Otherwise the computer system would not process them. Therefore we are here to help you to collect all the papers properly, while you yourselves can avoid refusal by preparing everything in advance according to our website instructions. And you should also come early enough to allow several working days for the standard procedure (depending on the type of the visa) before your planned journey.

-In your opinion, what sectors and industries today may greatly benefit from the Czech-Mongolia relationship but have not yet seen its chance to do so?
There are many sectors of possible cooperation. How much their chances have been exhausted depends very much on the business environment and readiness of the companies on both sides. After the water management I would mention e.g. Czech small aircrafts or mobile air-ports, cooperation in re-cultivation, landscape architecture, soil nutrition, fishery, eco-tourism – to name just few areas that have great future potential for cooperation in further stages of Mongolia’s development and may have not been fully exploited so far.

-Are there other operations and projects the previous Ambassadors left you; and which ones are you currently involved with?
I consider the very friendly diplomatic relations between our Governments and peoples the most important “heritage” from my predecessors. Besides, there are different types of economic cooperation we try to facilitate. We also have several on-going development projects – e.g. more Przewalski horses (takhi) are to be brought from the Prague ZOO to wild nature in Gobi-Altai. And I wish to continue our excellent cooperation with the Mongolian National University’s Bohemian studies unit or the Mongolian Dance and Music College. That is really a solid basis on which my highly professional team and I can humbly build on.

Source: UB Post


05.07.2013 16:32:05
Bohemia UB: česká základna v Mongolsku www.bohemia-UB.com
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