Prague - The new European sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis will have no marked impact on the Czech economy since Czech exports to Russia are primarily civilian, the Czech government said in a press release today.
Premiér Bohuslav Sobotka hovoří s novináři po jednání s prezidentem Milošem Zemanem 18. června na Pražském hradě. ČTK Kamaryt Michal
The government officially announced today that it joined the sanctions imposed on Russia.
"This decision is a reaction to the Russian unwillingness to solve the conflict in Ukraine peacefully," Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier (senior ruling Social Democrats, CSSD) told reporters after the government´s meeting today.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD)said the Czech Republic proceeded during the negotiations about the sanctions on Tuesday in such a way as to help maintain a joint European position on Russia and to protect the Czech economy and jobs as much as possible at the same time.
"It is good that the sanctions do not have an across-the-board economic character but aim at a limited range of spheres. I believe further sanction measures will not be needed and that reason and diplomacy will prevail," Sobotka said.
He warned against the raising of a new economic or political iron curtain on the eastern border of Ukraine.
Dienstbier added that during the talks the Czech Republic was pushing for the sanctions to be primarily aimed at military supplies and not at the trade in civilian commodities.
"In view of that the Czech Republic concentrates primarily on civilian supplies in relation to Russia, the newly agreed sanctions will have no fundamental influence on the Czech economy," the Government Office said in the press release.
Representatives of EU member countries preliminarily agreed on the version of the package of economic sanctions against Russia in Brussels in Tuesday.
The sanctions concern access of Russian state banks to the financial markets, arms trading, deliveries of advanced technologies for oil industry and technology with both defence and civilian use. They need to be formally approved by the EU members and they will most probably take effect as of Thursday, exactly two weeks after a Malaysian Airlines plane carrying 298 people was shot down over eastern Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) told CTK that the impact of the new sanctions on Czech firms still cannot be estimated as it is unclear how Russia is going to react to them.
Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said his party welcomed the sanctions.
"We believe it is a step in the right direction. It is necessary to show that certain things simply should not be done and this is an acceptable form for it," Belobradek told CTK.
Opposition TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg, former foreign minister, said he believes the sanctions may harm the Czech economy.
Schwarzenberg said he hopes the latest sanctions will be sufficient. "If they are not enough, stricter ones must come," he said.
TOP 09 wants to muster support for Russia's expulsion from the Council of Europe, which has suspended Moscow's right to vote.
The opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) also expect the sanctions to affect the Czech Republic in some way.
"The buck-passing presented by the prime minister is beyond comprehension," ODS leader Petr Fiala said.
"It is logical that the sanctions may somehow affect also those who impose them," Fiala added.
Marek Cernoch (opposition Dawn), from the lower house EU affairs committee, said he believes the EU agreed on the sanctions belatedly. He nevertheless said he considers them strong enough at the moment.