In recent years, Czech two way trade with the United Kingdom has advanced by leaps and bound. The country was already the fourth biggest Czech trade partner two years ago in 2015, following first placed Germany, Slovakia, and just trailing Poland in third place. But the current trading environment for Czechs in Britain is a tough one.
The Czech Centre in London has in recent years devoted a lot of its energies to bringing cutting edge Czech art and design to the UK capital. Now it’s able to do so on its own premises, after relocating to the same building as the country’s embassy and other institutions in the Notting Hill district. I recently stopped by to discuss the Czech Centre’s new location, and some of its projects, with director Tereza Porybná.
The Czech Embassy in London will on Friday evening celebrate its reopening after a two-year renovation project. The large-scale event will see performances by singer Lenny and artists František Skála and Petr Nikl, a light show provided by Prague’s Signal festival and drinks from the world-renowned bar owner Pavel Tvaroh. Ahead of the celebration, I caught up with Ambassador Libor Sečka at his newly remodeled office.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Prague earlier this week on the first stop of a tour of European capitals to explain the British position on Brexit outlined by Prime Minister Teresa May in Florence. In an interview for Czech Radio the British foreign secretary spoke about his country’s aims and priorities in the two-year transitional period ahead as well as after the Brexit cut-off line. Czech Radio’s London former correspondent Jiří Hošek began by asking him how he views the outcome of Germany’s parliamentary elections.
The man most responsible for Brexit – Nigel Farage – has been in Prague to make his contribution to the campaign for upcoming Czech elections. And the former head of the UKIP party had a series of messages for politicians in general, Czechs in particular, and his own take on the continuing Brexit negotiations.
Libor Sečka is a seasoned Czech diplomat who has served as ambassador in countries such as Italy, Spain, Malta and China. At the start of 2016 he took office as Czech ambassador to the UK. On a brief visit to Prague, I spoke to him about his current mission, the life of a diplomat and how he won a bottle of wine in an ambassadorial bet on the outcome of the Brexit referendum.
The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union has not as yet
had any impact on bilateral relations between Prague and London, the Czech
ambassador to the UK, Libor Sečka, told the Czech News Agency. Mr. Sečka
said it would be necessary to see the balance of trade between the two
states at the end of the year before assessing the economic effect of the
The ambassador said his embassy had registered an increase in animosity against Czechs living in the UK immediately following Britain’s referendum last year. Every registered case was discussed with the UK authorities, Mr. Sečka said. However, the situation has since calmed, he added.
Britain and the rest of the EU are at the start of the Brexit negotiations and in some sense both sides are still exploring where there are major differences and where there is agreement. Britain’s Brexit negotiator, David Davis, was in Prague on Tuesday for talks with the Czech foreign minister over its take on the talks so far and how they should proceed.