Skalnik: B&H offers visitors a combination of Switzerland and American Colorado

Jakub Skalnik FOTO: VELIJA HASANBEGOVIĆ

Jakub Skalnik has been the ambassador of the Czech Republic to Bosnia and Herzegovina for three years now. In an interview for the magazine VISIT B&H he says that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a beautiful country where good people live and it is full of natural beauties.

You are the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Bosnia and Herzegovina for three years. Can you tell us your impressions about Bosnia and Herzegovina?

– My experience so far is completely positive. People are very friendly and cordial, our country here has a very good reputation, which makes my work here easier. It will be no news for you when I mention that it is an aggravating factor, on the road to making the country more successful, among other things, the very complicated political and administrative structure of its division.

How often have you traveled throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina? What impressed you the most and what natural beauty remained in the most beautiful memory?

– I travel very much throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, both within my work and privately. It is, above all, a land full of natural beauties – mountains, canyons, wild rivers, and many other natural gems. With a little exaggeration, I speak, as far as natural wealth is concerned, Bosnia and Herzegovina offers its visitors a combination of Switzerland and American Colorado.

How do you like Bosnian food?

– Food in here is great for me, and therefore represents a real ‘threat’ to my line and maintaining a healthy blood cholesterol level. Of course, the local cuisine, ćevapi and other things, are legendary in all its regional forms, but I also enjoy the fish specialties.

What do you think about tourism potential of Bosnia and Herzegovina and what is, in your opinion, the chance for tourism development?

– Bosnia and Herzegovina has great tourist potential and could become the goal, primarily of foreign tourists, who are willing to actively spend their holiday. The problem is the underdeveloped tourist infrastructure, primarily accommodation capacities and associated additional offers (cultural programs, wellness, activities for children). B&H is also more difficult to access as far as transport is concerned – there is no highway network developed, and there are no direct airlines from a large number of countries, including the Czech Republic. If your country wants to attract more tourists, it is necessary primarily to focus on the construction of transport infrastructure, in the first place Corridor Vc.

Are Czech companies present in B&H?

– When we talk about the number of Czech companies in B&H, then unfortunately we are talking about a number of several companies, not about dozens or hundreds of people present. They are afraid of poor political stability and lack of transparency in the business environment.

Is there a Czech investors’ interest in B&H?

– There is a relatively large interest among Czech investors to invest in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Attracted by skilled workforce and linguistic and cultural affinity. As I have already mentioned, when it comes to B&H, there is great caution about the political situation that is considered unstable, and because of the poor transparency of the economic environment and insufficient law enforcement. Therefore, the current advantage is given to Croatia and Serbia.

Which business sectors are most interesting for Czech businessmen?

– Our entrepreneurs are most interested in the field of energy, primarily the production of electricity and the utilization of renewable energy sources, including geothermal energy and biomass. It is also interesting to build a wastewater infrastructure, including a sewage network. The last, but no less important, is the mining industry and woodworking.

Is there a plan of activities that will bring BH businesspersons closer to the Czech Republic and vice versa?

– Our embassy participates in the programs of the Czech government to support economic cooperation with foreign countries within the framework of economic diplomacy support programs. We are implementing several projects annually here, in which we help connecting entrepreneurs with companies from our countries. The last such project was realized in October last year, when companies from Bosnia and Herzegovina engaged in the field of wood processing visited the Czech Republic.

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