Monday, 25 March 2019

LN: Czechs might again have ambassador to Tehran after 20 years

ČTK |
10 March 2016

Prague, March 9 (CTK) - The Czech Republic might again have a full-fledged ambassador to Tehran, a post that has remained unoccupied in the past 20 years, as a result of the recent warming of relations with Iran, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes today.

In the past years, diplomats at the Czech embassy in Tehran did not have much work to do, nor was Iran visited by Czech politicians or businesspeople. However, the situation changed last year thanks to the EU's warming relations with the Iranian pro-reform regime, and visitors densely follow one another at the Czech embassy, whose agenda has become one of the busiest Czech diplomatic missions, LN writes.

Last year, Tehran was visited by delegations from both the lower and upper houses of the Czech parliament, by Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek, and also by Lubomir Zaoralek as the first Czech foreign minister to ever visit Iran, the paper writes.

Several Czech companies held negotiations in Iran. A part of the Tehran University has been named after Czech orientalist Jan Rypka. Czech violinist Jaroslav Sveceny had concert in Iran, the daily says.

The embassy's busy agenda will continue this year. Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Tlapa is to come in April, followed by a delegation of Czech senators, LN writes.

After the ongoing restart of bilateral economic relations, a new beginning of diplomatic relations can be expected. A full-fledged Czech ambassador might be instated in Iran this year, after a pause of more than 20 years, the paper writes.

"The Iranian side knows that we strive to have a plenipotentiary ambassador. Some conservative Iranian deputies voice reservations about it. Let's wait and see the result of the negotiations," Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) told LN.

By no means are Prague's efforts a mere wishful thinking, he said.

"Businesspeople have told me that the situation has been changing, progressing forwards, and promises have been met [by Iranian partners]," Zaoralek said.

The last plenipotentiary Czech ambassador to Tehran was Jiri Osvald, an expert at Iran and its history, in 1994.

Since then, the Czech Republic has been represented on the lower level of the charge d'affaires, an official who neither enjoys the host country's agrement, nor is his appointment conditional on the decision of the Czech government and president, the daily writes.

The Czech-Iranian relations cooled down mainly in reaction to the launch of the Persian broadcasts of the U.S. Prague-seated Radio Free Europe (RFE) in 1998. Tehran then accused Prague of promoting the U.S. interests, withdrew its ambassador and imposed a "silent embargo" on the trade with Czechs, LN writes.

The filling of the ambassadorial post in Tehran would help Czech business as a sign sent to the business community, Tlapa told the daily.

Czech companies benefit from last year's decision by the EU and USA to lift the embargo on the exports of dual-use goods to Iran. Moreover, a Czech-Iranian agreement on the prevention of double taxation has taken effect as from this year, the paper writes.

"To say it in a simplified way, we offer the German quality for more acceptable prices. They comprehend this [in Iran]," Mladek said, referring to the Czech exporters' opportunities.

The Czech-Slovak-Iranian chamber of commerce has been operating since September, its members including former Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan and former environment minister Milos Kuzvart, the daily writes.

Zaoralek said it is not certain whether Prague would reciprocally nod to promoting the Iranian charge d'affaires in Prague to plenipotentiary ambassador.

"We do not necessarily have to react symmetrically," he said.

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