On Thursday afternoon, a new centre for the Czech Republic, known as the Czech House, opens its doors to the public in Brussels. It will become the address of the Czech embassy, the Czech Centre as well as a number of national companies and institutions. Its main aim is to promote the Czech Republic before it takes on the EU presidency in 2009. I spoke to the head of the Czech Centre in Brussels, Petr Polivka, just a few hours before the start of the event and he agreed to answer a few questions related to the centre's new address:
"Our new Czech House is near to the centre of the city, near to the Palais Royal, in Brussels, where almost all the Czech Institutions represented in Brussels will be concentrated. Which means our embassy, representation to the EU, representation of the regions and some agencies like Czech Tourism, Czech Trade, Czech Invest, Czech Airlines will be represented."
You are not the only institution as you said that is moving to the new seat. Why do you think it is important to concentrate different Czech institutions in one place?
"Because before we were not in contact. Everybody was organizing something without any advice of the others. This is the opportunity to put our activities together and to do more than before."
"I am very satisfied, because before we had a very small centre with a very, very small hall. We had about 50 square metres and now we have about 300 square metres in our hall which means we can organize important exhibitions, event concerts, chamber concerts, colloquiums and theatre performances."
Would you say that Belgians are more interested in Czech culture more than they were in the past? To what extent are they interested in the Czech Republic and its culture?
"Frankly said it was surprising for me coming to Belgium. Belgian people are very interested in Czech culture. They travel a lot to the Czech Republic. Some of them have houses in the Czech Republic and they are in love with the Czech Republic. Really."
Could you tell me something about today's opening? What are some of the events that will take place today and who are the special guests that will come?
"This day is organized as a sort of street party. We have many personalities from the Czech Republic. The day will start with a press conference. After the press conference the Czech House will be inaugurated. Then you can listen to the voice of the singer Iva Fruhlingova who is very famous in France and Belgium as well. Then it will be Cechomor, which everybody knows in the Czech Republic. There will be some regional presentations and so on."
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