Ambassadors visiting the Rock for the 100th Anniversary Celebrations of Czechoslovakian Independence stressed the importance of striking a Brexit deal to ensure future partnerships between the countries.
Czech Ambassador Libor Secka and Slovak Ambassador Lubomir Rehak arrived on the Rock to celebrate the countries centenary of independence from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and expand on their relationships with Gibraltar.
Although the possibilities of education, health and economic partnerships between the countries was discussed, the ambassadors were looking for answers in regards to Brexit negotiations.
“We are entering quite a delicate time with Brexit as things will be changing in the future and there is a big interest from our people for more information because there have been some concerns,” Mr Secka said.
“We would like to better understand what is the position here, what is the current situation, what they really feel are possible problems and once we have this information on how to help them. This is the same as we do in the UK. So, this is a more complex visit.”
During their visit the ambassadors have met with the Minister for Education, John Cortes, who is Acting Chief Minister as Mr Picardo continues Brexit talks in London.
They sought clarification on Brexit as well as the opportunity to foster relationships with Gibraltar.
“The implications of Brexit are being discovered along the way, so it is very difficult to handle this situation, my general feeling is that we very much need to find any deal,” Mr Secka said.
“The solution is not a ‘no deal’, the solution will be some kind of agreement which will give us the opportunity to continue cooperation because that is vital, and needed. We cannot cut cooperation’s. Our lives have been influenced in so many ways we couldn’t even imagine. I am convinced that common sense will win and we will find some sort of agreement.”
Mr Rehak added that Slovakia has “many times and in many forums lamented” this decision to leave the EU.
“It hurts not only the UK but also the international strength of Europe,” Mr Rehak said.
“We are not happy with the situation and we respect that this was such a result of internal democratic procedures. From our point of view it is important to make a correct withdrawal agreement and to set up regulations of relationships between the UK and the European Union.”
Mr Secka remained positive on the possibilities of partnerships with Gibraltar after Brexit.
He added the ideas of partnerships in education, healthcare and economic projects were discussed positively with Dr Cortes.
“We would like to present ourselves as modern partners and we are choosing the areas in which we have some special capacities,” Mr Secka said.
In the capacity of healthcare, Mr Secka highlighted the Czech Republic’s high standard of healthcare regarding cardiac treatment.
Currently there are Czech doctors working in the UK and Gibraltar and Mr Secka would like to see if there would be more opportunities for Czech doctors to work locally.
Mr Secka added he would like to explore the possibility of partnerships between the University of Gibraltar and Charles University in Prague who are “very much interested”.
He is currently in discussions with the Czech Honorary Consul to arrange a visit of the delegation from Charles University to Gibraltar.
“I have much hope we will discover opportunities for more cooperation and for exchange, even of students but we need to speak about all this more because Brexit is on the horizon,” Mr Secka said.
Mr Secka is looking forward to more opportunities where Gibraltar and the Czech Republic can discuss economic and social developments.