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Stela Nadoleanu publicat la: 26/01/2015
Jiří Šitler: „Freedom is something rather important to me”
Jiří Šitler, former Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Bucharest

Jiří Šitler: „Freedom is something rather important to me”

His Excellency Jiří Šitler, the former Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Bucharest, has just finished his mandate. A career diplomat, former counsellor of Václav Havel, he was always present at Czech cultural events. We have asked him to share with us some of his thoughts upon leaving Romania.


What was your image of Romania before coming to Bucharest and what is it now?

I visited the Romanian mountains and seaside (I saw the sea for the first time in my life here) first in the 1980s, as a student, and I enjoyed my stay very much, althought I was also stunned by the level of repression by the Ceaușescu regime. In 1994, I visited Bucharest to prepare a visit of President Václav Havel. Between 1994 and 2010, the year of the beginning of my mandate, the country changed very much, and definitely for the better. But I was prepared quite well for that - some of my close friends visited Romania regularly and I knew about the changes from them. But I have many Romanian personal friends now, and I don´t have to rely on intermediaries anymore - and that´s an important change.

How has Bucharest changed over the past 4 years (culturally, socially, architecturally, etc.)?

Our embassy is located in the Old Town, and the changes in this part of the city are breathtaking. Every month there are new streets repaired, facades fixed, restaurants opened. Some people complain that the Old Town loses its charm by these renovations but I disagree - I am not a friend of dilapidating buildings. I think it´s a good development. It´s true that for the last year or so, some original and cool bars have closed down again and soulless loud and smoky, and sometime even sleazy places have replaced them. Culturally and socially, it´s good to see more self-confident civil society - I was always grateful for the interest the young and educated generation of Romanians paid to our events.

What is/are the place(s) in our country that you like the most? Where would you like to return one day? Why?

I like hiking in the mountains in the summer, and Romanian mountains are magnificent. I´ll be back there for sure.

How would you describe, in a nutshell, your mandate/stay in Romania?

It was not only work, but also fun.

If your mandate were to continue for one more year, what would be the things that you haven't had the chance to do and that you would like to do?

More hiking in the mountains.

Now, at the end of your mandate here, we wish you a good journey in your diplomatic career. Please tell us some of your wishes for the Romanians/ for Romania.

Thank you. I wish Romanians security in this sometimes tumultous European neighborhood, prosperity, and above all freedom, self-confident citizenship. I hope you won´t take it as a phrase. Freedom is something rather important to me.