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Despite Brexit, Britain remains a significant Czech ally, says Foreign Minister

Britain remains a significant ally for the Czech Republic and a path to secure further bilateral cooperation after Brexit must be sought, says Tomáš Petříček

Prague, Jan 31 (CTK) – Britain remains a significant ally for the Czech Republic and a path to secure further bilateral cooperation after Brexit must be sought, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (junior ruling Social Democrats, CSSD) and senior opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) head Petr Fiala agreed today.

Britain will withdraw from the EU at midnight.

The EU-British agreement on further relations is to be completed by the end of the year.

Opposition anti-EU far right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) chairman Tomio Okamura called on the Czech Republic to leave the EU as well, following Britain.

“Our long-term partner and very close ally is leaving, a country that supported us at the time when we wanted to join the EU,” Petricek said about Britain in a video recording released on Twitter.

“I studied in Britain, I like this country and do not want it to abandon us by Brexit. On the contrary, our cooperation should continue in the important areas, such as trade, relations between both countries’ people, education, science, research and fight against terrorism, cyber threats and climate change. I would like to wish all success to Britain and I would also like to wish that we found the way of continuing in a number of projects by the end of the year,” Petricek added.

“Britain remains a very perspective market, among others for its innovative character, even after Brexit. This is why we will be pushing for signing an ambitious and balanced trade deal to prevent obstacles to trade in as many areas as possible,” Deputy PM and Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlicek (for ANO) said.

However, firms have to prepare for changes, since no agreement on future relations will equal Britain’s EU membership, Havlicek said. He also pointed out that there were just 11 months left to strike the deal and talks about similar agreements usually lasted much longer.

“Britain is our significant ally to me, it remains a key European and NATO country. We will support the EU’s reasonable agreement about its relations with the UK that will be advantageous for our citizens, our bilateral trade and will secure further cooperation,” Fiala tweeted.

“I feel sorry that a country that was a pioneer in uniting Western and Eastern Europeans is leaving the EU today. Britain was the first to allow the arrivals of East Europeans to work there without any restrictions. The economic advantage turned into populism. Let us remain friends with a firm bond,” MP Tomas Martinek (opposition Pirates) said.

Chamber of Deputies foreign committee chairman Jan Vesely (CSSD) also said farewell to Britain. He indicated that at least part of the UK might return to the EU.

The Scottish nationalists are speaking about re-entering the EU in connection with Scotland’s possible split from the UK.

Okamura, whose SPD is pushing for a referendum on Czechia’s withdrawal from the EU, did not conceal his joy at Brexit. “Let’s Join Britain and Let Brussels Fall. Brexit! Czexit!” he tweeted.

The Czech Foreign Ministry says in a press release today that Brexit does not mean any changes for Czech citizens. A transition period follows until the end of this year, during which all regulations in force during Britain’s EU membership remain valid.

However, the ministry calls on Czechs living in Britain, whose number it estimates at 80,000 to 100,000, to register and gain the resident status in the UK to have their current rights preserved after the transition period.

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