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Joint celebration of the National Days of the Czech Republic and Austria at Oravice in Banat

On 26 October 2013, the Embassy of the Czech Republic together with the Embassy of Austria organized a joint celebration of the two countries´ National Days in the town of Oravice in Caras-Severin County (Banat).

A meeting at the Town Hall at the invitation of Mayor Dumitru Ursu, a charity event at the local nursery school and a gala in M. Eminescu Theatre were attended by Czech Ambassador Jiří Šitler, Austrian Ambassador Michael Schwarzinger, honorary consuls of the Czech Republic and Austria from Timisoara Stefan Motec and Vasile Onofrei.  The Romanian side was represented by Ministry of Tourism Maria Grapini, deputies and senators of Romanian Parliament as well as county and town representatives. Among some 200 guests were also representatives of the Czech and German-speaking minorities, including František Draxel, chairman of the South Banat branch of the Democratic Union of Slovaks and Czechs in Romania. The cultural programme was provided by members of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Timisoara and by Romanian, German and Czech folk ensembles, including children from the Czech villages of Gerník and Svatá Helena.

The town of Oravice is situated close to the town of Anina, where the Czech and German communities used to live for a long time together; part of the town still bears the name of Česká kolonie (Czech colony). The village of Čiklava is the annual meeting place of Czech and German catholic believers who go on pilgrimage here. There are fifteen Czech companies in the Caras-Severin district that try to contribute to the economic development of the region. Banat is a popular destination of both Czech and Austrian tourists.

Ambassador Jiří Šitler said on the occasion of the celebration: “In Banat, Romanians, Czechs and Austrians are closely bound with a common history. A joint celebration, in the European spirit, is a very natural form for us.”  Ambassador Michael Schwarzinger added: “The towns of Oravice and Anina are dotted with testimonies of a long multiethnical history in Banat. This past is reflected in a very clear way in the building of Oravice theatre, the oldest theatre in Romania, which is an exact copy of the old Burgtheater in Vienna, and in the oldest railway in Romania, called after its Austrian model “Romanian Semmering”.

Minister of tourism Maria Grapini said: “I highly appreciate that the Czech Republic and Austria decided to organize a joint event in the region. I am happy that the Ambassadors of both our friendly countries will leave here with a message that there are extraordinary tourist regions in Romania.”