Ballantyne Magazine covers news, events, real estate, restaurants, shopping, health, schools and business in the upscale Ballantyne Area of Charlotte, NC.
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Diplomats in Our Midst Honorary Consuls Like Calling Ballantyne Home By Nan Bauroth Photos by Ray Sepesy BALLANTYNE HAS LONG BEEN A MAGNET FOR DIVERSITY, drawing people from around the world. Within this cultural mélange reside two diplomatic representatives: Heinz Roth, honorary consul for Switzerland, and Petr Vasicko, honorary consul for the Czech Republic. Both of their jurisdictions include the Carolinas but focus predominantly on the Charlotte region. Meet the diplomats in our midst. Heinz Roth Originally from St. Gallen in northeast Switzerland, Roth moved to Charlotte 26 years ago and has lived in Ballantyne for the past fve years. In 2000, he was proposed as a candidate for honorary consul of Switzerland in the Carolinas and has served in that capacity since. He sees his role as twofold: to serve the Swiss community, as well as Swiss companies operating in his jurisdiction and American companies with an interest in Switzerland. "There are 1,500 Swiss citizens in North Carolina and 50 Swiss companies in this state," he notes. To facilitate his role, Roth belongs to the Swiss Society of Charlotte, European American Business Forum and Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. "The best part of my position is that I talk to a lot of people, both Swiss and American," he says. He and his wife especially like strolling to Ballantyne Village and enjoying the movie theater and restaurants. "Ballantyne is a very nice place to be," Roth says. Petr Vasicko Born and raised in the Czech Republic, Vasicko has served as honorary consul for the Czech Republic in the Carolinas since 2014. "After the extraordinary political changes in 1989, I came to boarding school in Massachusetts," he explains. "I didn't know a soul or a word of English." Today he speaks impeccable English and has become a dual citizen of his native country and the U.S. "One of my major goals is educating people about the Czech Republic," he says. "We peacefully separated from Slovakia in 1993 because we are two nations with diferent languages, cultures and heritage. We have now enjoyed over 25 years of a free market and democratic society, and have come a long way. From a business standpoint, the Czech Republic is in the heart of the European continent, making it an ideal place to situate a business." A big booster of the U.S. and Charlotte in particular, Vasicko recently hosted a seminar in Prague accompanied by North Carolina's secretary of commerce, a Charlotte Chamber representative and local legal and tax professionals. They sought to persuade Czech companies seeking to expand in the U.S. to locate here. Vasicko and his wife, Colleen, came to Ballantyne in 2002 from Manhattan after 9/11, and their three children attend Ballantyne public schools. A former professional hockey player in Europe, he coaches his son's team at Pineville Ice House. In addition, he is a founding board member of the Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina and recently sponsored a showing of "November," a movie about the Velvet Revolution, at Charlotte Country Day School. "I want to serve as a bridge to the most beautiful place in the world," he says of the Czech Republic. "I have seen it through the dark ages of communism and into more wonderful days." BALLANTYNE MAGAZINE 59 WINTER 2015-2016