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Brexit has not affected Czech-British relations, ambassador says

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Prague, Aug 29 (CTK) – Britain’s decision to leave the EU has not affected the bilateral relations between Prague and London, although the Czech embassy saw some cases of Britons’ animosity to Czechs after the referendum last year, Czech ambassador to Britain Libor Secka told CTK today.

“I do not see any clearly visible signals of the impact (of Brexit on Czech-British relations) at the moment,” Secka said.

When it comes to the evaluation of the economic impact, one has to wait for the trade balance sheet for this year, he added.

“As far as the feelings are concerned, students may be deliberating more than before whether to go to Britain,” Secka said.

The embassy saw some signs of Britons’ animosity to Czechs, most strongly right after the Brexit referendum.

“Now I think that the situation is basically calming down,” Secka said.

He stressed that whenever a case occurred that Czech diplomats registered problems of Czech citizens, they turned to British authorities and politicians.

“We used our opportunities, which have been political meetings with government representatives, in order to convey the general message that the atmosphere is not good and that it is also up to the politicians what atmosphere they will create,” Secka said.

“They accepted this, considering it a serious matter to deal with,” Secka said.

It is in the Czech Republic’s interest that political and economic relations with Britain stay on a high level after Britain leaves the EU, Secka said.

“We are not interested in any major complications of the relations in the form of some customs measures because this might affect our exports and this is not desirable,” he added.

Secka said the Czech exports to Britain in 2016 amounted to 206 billion crowns, ranking Britain fourth or fifth among the most important countries to which the Czech Republic exports its goods in the long run.

The EU-British talks on the arrangement of trade and political relations after Brexit have not markedly advanced.

Secka said this could be attributed to London not having been prepared for the result of the referendum.

He said he did not presume that anyone would insist on the “hard Brexit,” in which the relations would be quite severed.

“I do not think anyone wants the situation to come to a head. There will be games, there will be manoeuvring, but it is in the interest of both sides to arrive at a compromise,” Secka said.

The situation may also be eased by Britain having started to make it clear that it is ready to accept temporary measures in some spheres, which would provide more time for talks on some disputed affairs, he added.

Secka said he perceived Britain’s effort to negotiate on the Brexit also with individual EU countries independently.

“There is naturally the question of whether it is possible to agree on something. I do not have the feeling that what Britain is doing might rock the EU unity,” he added.

Brexit is unlikely to harm Czech-British relations, Secka said.

However, the Czech diplomacy is also looking for the way in which to fill them newly because even strong historical symbols such as the joint fight against Nazism are not enough for the future.

The Czech embassy wants to use the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s foundation, to be celebrated next year, for the new forms of cooperation, Secka said.

“We have prepared a programme we call Czech Republic 100, which will try and show the 100 best things of the Czech Republic, symbolically on the platform of the anniversary,” he added.

“We want to show Britain that we are good partners and that we can be useful,” Secka said.

He highlighted the chances of Czech companies in nanotechnologies, the health care and the traditional automobile industry.

($1 = 21.887 crowns)

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