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Prague to host investment, aviation forums with China in 2017

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Riga, Nov 5 (CTK special correspondent) – The Czech Republic will hold the Chinese investment forum next year again and it will also host the 16+1 summit on aviation, the prime ministers of 16 Central and Eastern European countries and China agreed in Riga Saturday.
The Government Office says this ensues from a document, the “Riga directives,” on the text of which the heads of government, including Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka, agreed Saturday.
The Czech Republic, along with Latvia, Poland and China, will support a new investment fund in support of joints projects on the establishment of which representatives of Central and Eastern European countries and China agreed at the summit Saturday.
However, Sobotka told reporters that finances from private investors and not from state budget would go to the fund.
The Czech Republic welcomes the initiative, but it will not send state money to the fund, he added.
Sobotka has used the Riga summit mainly for bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the Balkan countries.
The Riga directives, as the main output of this year’s summit, define the major cooperation areas within the platform, including particular projects for 2017.
On their basis, the Czech Republic will host an aviation forum in 2017 that should strengthen cooperation between the Czech Republic and China in this area.
Sobotka told reporters that the forum could support the possibilities to certify Czech aircraft for export to China.
The Czech Republic has long been striving for hosting the 16+1 summit that is held in Riga this year. Next year, it is to take place in Hungary.
“The investment forum (with China) that we annually organise in the Czech Republic will continue,” Sobotka told reporters, commenting on the content of the Riga directives.
In his speech at the summit, Sobotka stressed the need to develop joint Internet trading and aviation. Czech experts are prepared to share their experience in civilian aviation and in the respective legislation, he said.
The 16+1 summits have been annually held since 2012. They are attended by representatives of 11 EU member states and five other Balkan countries along with China.
The Czech Republic signed an agreement on strategic partnership with China in March.
Czech-Chinese relations were highlighted lately after a meeting of Culture Minister Daniel Herman with the Tibetan Dalai Lama.
In reaction to it, the supreme elected officials, President Milos Zeman, Sobotka and the heads of the lower and upper houses of parliament, issued a pro-China statement in which they distanced themselves from the meetings of politicians with the Dalai Lama, saying they were not an expression of a change in the Czech official policy towards China. The statement was sharply criticised by both the right-wing opposition and some government politicians as an expression of subordination.
The import from China to the Czech Republic decreased by 1.7 percent to 276 billion crowns this year (as of the end of August) and Czech expert to China dropped by 5 percent year-on-year to 29 billion crowns, according to the Czech Statistical Office (CSU).
Sobotka told reporters before his departure for the summit in Riga that the Czech Republic should try hard to balance this considerable disproportion between export and import.
($1=24.359 crowns)

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