In the previous episodes of the Czechs in Brexit Britain series, we explored what worries the local Czech community about Brexit and the new business ties the country is trying to establish with Britain. In our closing feature we will look closer at the Czech community itself and some of the clubs and institutions that they have built in the United Kingdom.
Britain is currently the Czech Republic’s fifth largest export market and a successful conclusion to post-Brexit trade negotiations is therefore a top priority for Czech diplomats. However, Czechs are also trying to tap in to new business opportunities in the UK and the British government’s promises to invest in its northern infrastructure and hospitals have been identified as potential new avenues for exports.
As of January the UK has officially left the European Union and a new relationship is currently being negotiated between the two international actors. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs is doing its best to ensure that Czech expats apply for “settled status” in Britain. However, questions regarding future agreements on programmes that have thus far been key in fostering a strong Czech presence in the UK remain.
Support for Czechs living in Brexit Britain may have been the main reason for Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček’s visit to the UK on Friday. However, he chose to begin the day by honouring the fallen heroes who fought side by side with the British in the Second World War. Under the title “Never Forgotten”, their sacrifice is being remembered through a series of commemorations organised by the Czech Embassy in London this year.
With Britain having just exited the EU, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček flew to Manchester on Friday to meet members of the local Czech community and discuss their concerns connected with Brexit. Mr Petříček started his trip by visiting a cemetery in Cheadle and Gatley, south of the city. Radio Prague’s Tom McEnchroe has been following the events on the ground and spoke to us on the phone on Friday morning:
UK journalist Misha Glenny is an expert on organised crime and cybersecurity and has written a number of books, including the hit title McMafia. He studied in Prague and did a lot of reporting from the city in the late 1980s, including during the Velvet Revolution. At present he also heads a committee guaranteeing the independence of editors and journalists at the Economia group, which publishes titles such as Hospodářské noviny and Respekt. Czech Radio’s Lenka Kabrhelová sat down with Misha Glenny recently and began by asking him about the nature
Relations between the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom must remain
strong after Brexit, British ambassador to the Czech Republic Nick Archer
said in an interview for the CTK news agency.
Mr. Archer said the British government was striving hard to agree on an acceptable Brexit deal with the European Union, but stressed that, even if the country left the EU with no deal, Czechs living in Britain would not be restricted in their present rights.
He said the UK had offered very generous provisions in the “Lex Brexit” law protecting the rights of Czechs and the citizens of other EU member states living in the UK.
Those offered by the Czech government to British nationals are slightly less generous, mainly as far as health care is concerned, and talks with the Czech government about this continue, Mr. Archer said.
The British ambassador to the Czech Republic said the embassy organizes regular meetings with British nationals living in the Czech Republic to inform them about the possible impacts of a no-deal Brexit.
The last one took place in mid-September and the next should be held in October.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has advised Czechs travelling to Great Britain
to take along their passports in order to avoid possible complications in
view of Brexit.
Martin Smolek, head of the ministry’s consular department told journalists that which it was still possible to travel to Britain on a citizen’s ID card the situation could change in time and in order to avoid possible complications with British immigration police it was advisable to carry a passport as well.
All other documents relating to stays in GB should remain valid until the end of October, Smolek said.
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