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Czech Minister breaks ranks and calls to end EU sanctions against Russia

Prague, Czech Republic – According to local business daily Hospodařské noviny, Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček (ANO) recently came out in favour of lifting EU sanctions against Russia.

According to Hospodařské noviny, Karel Havlíček, who was recently appointed as the new Czech Industry and Trade Minister following a cabinet reshuffle, made those comments during a meeting with Russian ambassador in Prague Alexander Zmejevskij, arguing that the sanctions were hurting the Czech economy and should be dropped.

Despite his statement, the official position of the Czech Republic remains unchanged and in line with the rest of the EU. In a recent trip to Ukraine, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček reassured Kiev about the continued support of the Czech Republic.

The European Union imposed tough economic and financial sanctions against Moscow in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin’s support for separatist groups in eastern Ukraine. In retaliation, Russia also imposed a trade embargo on a set of European goods.

Ever since they were introduced five years ago, a number of Czech politicians, including President Milos Zeman, have regularly criticized the sanctions, labeling them as useless and detrimental to the Czech economy.

Last year, bilateral trade between Russia and Czechia amounted to nearly 8.5 billion euros, a significant increase compared to previous years but still well below the pre-2014 levels (10.8 billion euros in 2012, for instance).

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