Jan Thompson: Time flies in beautiful Czechia | E15.cz

Jan Thompson: Time flies in beautiful Czechia

Jan Thompson: Time flies in beautiful Czechia
Škoda 1000 MB
It’s difficult to believe that I’ve now been living in the beautiful Czech Republic for three years! The time has flown by. Perhaps because every day is different. One day I’ll be meeting the prime minister or another member of the Czech government to coordinate approaches on a subject of shared interest such as sanctions against Russia, or the digital economy.

The next I might be opening a branch of a British retail outlet like Hamley’s or The Body Shop, or talking to Czech university students about the close academic and research cooperation between our two countries. UK stakeholders are amongst the top two partners of choice in the Czech Republic’s science and innovation activities.

Alternatively, I might be working with my consular staff – as happened on a recent occasion – t0 help a British citizen get married, after he’s lost all his possessions while in Prague for his stag-do! Most days will involve hosting or attending a lunch and one or two evening receptions where the conversations can continue. And every now and then I’ll make a trip outside Prague, to meet with local politicians, call on British companies operating in the regions, or catch up with the British military training team, working since 2000 with the Czech army in Vyškov to train international military personnel for overseas deployments.

A seismic event in recent months has been the decision of the British people to leave the European Union. To some, including in this country, the referendum outcome came as a shock. The Czech Republic has been one of the UK’s closest EU partners – like-minded on so many issues. But while the UK may be leaving the EU, we remain committed Europeans, and I’m confident – and determined – that the UK-Czech partnership will endure after the UK ‘Brexits’.

We have a strong and historical bond of friendship, strengthened by the gratitude we Brits feel to the Czech airmen who flew with the Royal Air Force during WWII, and given currency by the many Brits and Czechs now living in one another’s country. And of course, as you would expect from strong trading nations such as the UK and the Czech Republic, our bilateral trade and investment continues to grow. Supporting this remains a core function of my embassy, and Brexit will not change it.

On a personal note, I feel completely at home here. Czechs and Brits seem to share the same sense of humour, and both are indefatigably pragmatic! I’ve seen two of the Jára Cimrman plays: the humour translates perfectly into English. I’m also proud to be promoting British culture by appearing on stage on a regular basis with the Prague Shakespeare Company – most recently at the Summer Shakespeare Festival at Prague Castle and at the Estates Theatre. I was pretty nervous when I saw a couple of Cabinet ministers sitting in the audience!

So what’s my favourite place in Prague? My beautiful back garden! This is where we host our annual Queen’s Birthday Party, this year celebrating Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. Though a recent find has been a cute little kavárna on Nový Svět with a beautiful back garden of its own. In my free time I also travel round the Czech Republic in my vintage Škoda car, the only Škoda MB with diplomatic licence plates!

the author is HM Ambassador to the Czech Republic and British Ambassador to the Czech Republic

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