Prague, June 27 (CTK) – Burmese people have high respect for the late president Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) who supported the country’s present leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, when she was a dissident, which helps Czech entrepreneurs and diplomats who work in Burma, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes on Monday.

“I have been surprised that even people in Burmese regions often mention Havel and remember that he supported Suu Kyi in hard times,” Renata Brandstaetterova, an economic diplomat at the Czech embassy in Burma, told the paper.

Havel and Suu Kyi never met in person. The former Czech dissident Havel was president in 1989-2003. Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for many years.

When Suu Kyi took part in the Prague conference Forum 2000 two years after Havel’s death, she pointed out that Havel refused his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and proposed her instead. Suu Kyi won the prize then.

Suu Kyi has headed her country since April, though in the specially established position of the state counsellor of Myanmar, the official name of Burma since 1989, the paper writes.

Under Myanmar’s constitution, Suu Kyi cannot be president because her husband and children are foreign citizens.

Due to the instable situation in Myanmar, the Czech Republic did not have diplomats in the country for 20 years. In 2013, a Czech charge d’affaires arrived in Yangon and the Czech diplomatic mission was reopened last year, LN writes.

Since the landslide victory of Suu Kyi’s party in the elections in 2015, Burma opened to foreign investments, mostly from Taiwan, Singapur, Thailand and Japan.

The reputation of Havel helps, yet competition from India and China is enormous, Brandstaetterova said.

The Czech Republic wants to use Havel’s name in business promotion. Brandstaetterova said the country does not want to exchange human rights for business, however.

“It is rather a smooth continuation. Burma has opportunities for Czech exporters, foreign investment is slowly flowing in, privatisation is being prepared. The reputation related to Havel’s legacy helps us,” she told the paper.

In 2015, Czech exports to Burma reached only 70 million crowns. This year, Czech tractors Zetor will be delivered to Burma.

“We even found the original Burmese distributor who traded with Czechoslovakia in the 1970s. We hope to agree on deliveries of 300 to 400 tractors,” Brandstaetterova said.

She said beer was another Czech product that may be successful in Burma, a mostly Buddhist country in which 80 percent of people drink beer. Until recently, the biggest brewery located in Mandalay used Czechoslovak technology for brewing beer, LN writes.

Brandstaetterova said Czechs have organised “soft” projects in Burma within their development and humanitarian aid for several years.

The People in Need organisation provided aid after a devastating cyclone hit the country in 2008 already. The Czech Development Agency funded the work of two Czech firms within a project exploring sources of drinking water in Burma. The Czech Foreign Ministry provided finances for the building of two Buddhist schools in central Burma, and five medical centres with serum against snakebite were set up, LN writes.

This week, a delegation of senior officials of the Burmese central bank and ministry of national planning will go to Prague to get acquainted with the Czech experience with economic transformation and the creation of budgets, Brandstaetterova said.

“Unlike other countries, we do not want to impose any model on them. We try to show them the path we took and the mistakes that we could have avoided,” Brandstaetterova told the paper.