This month we virtually met Ambassador Cliona Manahan to talk about Prague, her job at the Embassy, and the presence of Irish businesses in the Czech Republic.
We would like to thank the Ambassador for always being available to listen, answer and support.
1.Mrs. Ambassador, what brought you to Prague and when did you arrive?
I was appointed to the Czech Republic in 2019 and arrived last autumn from Denmark. Previously, I was Ambassador to Denmark and Iceland and during my career have worked with the President, Ministers and stakeholders during the Irish peace process, with the Asia and the Latin America regions, and in our Missions in London, Paris, and Edinburgh.
So each role involves building links and this can only be achieved by listening, by encouraging and developing closer relationships. While in Denmark, and Iceland, all of us collaborated across the Nordic-Baltic region to develop stronger ties. This same approach is just as important here in Czechia.
Ireland and Czechia both historically have close and familiar neighbours. However, Ireland has learned from our history how important it is to look beyond our own borders, and history - and to widen and strengthen our partnerships. Our membership of Europe has been key to Ireland’s political, economic and social development similar to Czechia and we work closely. We are like-minded on many issues and challenges including advancing our interests within the EU, European Recovery, new technologies, digitisation, and entrepreneurship. Ireland (2021-2022) is a member of the UN Security Council and works with Czechia and UN partners on Peace and Security, Peacekeeping, International Development and Human Rights.
2. What do you like the most about the city?
Since my arrival, I’ve been impressed by the knowledge and skills of the Czech people, demonstrated by your innovation and industry, the high standing of your Universities and researchers, the exceptional world class cultural talents. And beautiful cities with world class architecture and countryside.
3.What is your job?
This assignment builds on the work of predecessors while focusing on what is of most interest to Ireland and Czechia at this time. It is an exceptionally demanding time for Europe and all regions as we tackle the pandemic and prepare for the recovery which will follow. The Irish, like the Czech people have more in common which we are sharing as we deal with the political, economic and social challenges of this pandemic – and after.
Every day, with colleagues in HQ Dublin, and here in the Embassy, with Enterprise Ireland, and our central Europe network we focus on developing new and existing links with Czechia. Each year, we find ways to share and celebrate the National Day/St. Patrick’s Day here with the Czech people as well as our global friends. The most visible are business and culture programmes, and Global Greenings where we highlight sites that capture what is best about each country.
This March, we invite everyone to join in a virtual #IrelandHouse and to engage with us @IrlEmbPrague. You don’t have to be Irish to be involved – we will be engaging with friends here in Czechia, across Europe, and all other regions, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Middle East. Greenings will feature Irish-Czech innovation, research and business collaborations, and will share our commitment to EU Recovery and sustainability.
4.Would you recommend an Irish entrepreneur to start a business in Prague?
Starting a business anywhere always depends on the sector, a solid business project and enthusiasm and skill of an entrepreneur. The Czech Republic is a good place for doing business, it’s a country that offers a lot of opportunities due to good infrastructure, geographic position, presence of many international companies, technical education and skills of its people.
5. Is it difficult to start a business in the Czech Republic for an Irish company and what are the benefits to start a business here?
The Czech Republic is ranking just in the middle of the World Bank’s “Doing Business” guide in Europe together with Portugal, Poland and the Netherlands. As an EU member, the law and regulations in the Czech Republic are similar to other member States. Many Irish companies have a very successful presence in this country and Irish business has a great reputation and a lot of goodwill in this country.
The Czech Republic offers a lot of opportunities due to its excellent infrastructure, geographic position and technical education and skills. Czech businesses and people are very open to new ideas, technologies and innovation. It’s also a pleasant country to live in. UN Human Development Index shows the Czech Republic at 26th place together with France and is in the top ten most peaceful countries in the world according to the Global Peace Index. Similar to Ireland, it is a relatively small market but strongly connected to the EU markets and outside world.