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National Day  28 October

Her Excellency Mrs Marie CHATARDOVÁ
Embassy of the Czech Republic
26-30 Kensington Palace Gardens
London W8 4QY
E: london@embassy.mzv.cz
T: 020 7243 7900

The Czech Republic’s Ambassador Marie Chatardová came to London in October of last year from New York, where she was posted as the Permanent representative of the Czech Republic to the UN. She notes that throughout her diplomatic career, “at least one of our three children has always moved with us, but for the first time I moved alone with my husband as all our children are now adults.” The Ambassador is “grateful” to have participated in the Jubilee celebrations, also marking the occasion by “planting a linden – the Czech Republic’s national tree – in the garden of the Residence as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy project.”

The Ambassador considers how her life has been “divided into two periods: before and after November 1989.”  Born and raised in Czechoslovakia, she recalls how “our country was involuntarily behind the so-called Iron Curtain. My mother was the daughter of a landowner, and the communists nationalised all her family’s property. I never thought that I could go into diplomacy because I am convinced that a good diplomat must be proud of her/his country. After the Velvet Revolution, I suddenly felt like everything was possible and within reach. We could travel and think freely.” Accordingly, Ambassador Chatardová became a commercial lawyer, and after working in that field for several years, she “entered the MFA in 1994 to proudly represent my new country.”

Throughout an impressive career Ambassador Chatardová has held several senior diplomatic positions, including Director of Diplomatic Protocol, and ambassadorial appointments in Sweden and France, (also accredited to Monaco, UNESCO and the International Organisation of Francophonie). “Each host country is, of course, very different,” she notes, “but my experiences were incredibly valuable, both in managing the embassy itself and in promoting Czech interests. At the same time, it is necessary to establish a new set of priorities in each destination and to create a network of work and social contacts.”

During a “multifaceted” posting as the Czech Republic’s Permanent Representative to the UN (2016-21), the Ambassador held many different roles and participated in a great array of events, agendas and conferences. In July 2017, she was elected the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), “the third most important UN body. The Czech Republic had not occupied such a high post since 2003 and I was only the third woman presiding over the ECOSOC in its 72-year history, all of which amounted to a great honour. Established in 1946, this body formulates recommendations to member states regarding global economics, social and environmental challenges and is the main body where progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development is reviewed.”

Since her arrival as Ambassador in the UK, she has observed “the combination of traditional and modern approaches, both in architecture and in society” here in the capital… The British mentality is mostly like the Czech one, including a similar sense of humor and irony, which helps tremendously in opening doors. Overall, my professional experience in the UK has been excellent so far.”

In terms of her plans for the appointment, she says “undoubtedly, a top priority is the further development of bilateral relations with the UK, which are already excellent, but there is always some way of deepening them. In ​​foreign policy, our foreign ministers signed a Statement of Intent, which defines the main areas of cooperation. Additionally, economic diplomacy, including mutual trade and investments, is also crucial. Not only is the UK one of the largest investors in the Czech Republic, but Czech investments in the UK are also growing. Another priority is the field of ​​science, technology, innovation and cyber security, as well as culture, tourism and the overall presentation of my country throughout the UK. We are on the right track, as just last year the London-based magazine Time Out selected Prague as the most beautiful city in the world!”

She continues, “We have good cooperation in defence, which has strong roots in our common history. During World War II, thousands of Czech soldiers came to fight alongside their British counterparts. At the end of June, we launched a project titled ‘Children of Heroes,’ which maps the destinies, memories and attachment to Czech roots of our heroes’ families who settled here. Their stories are fascinating.”

Although the Ambassador notes that “Brexit has made some aspects of our cooperation more challenging, I am happy to say we managed to maintain an intense bilateral relationship and are constantly expanding it. We are after all natural allies facing the same global challenges.”

Ambassador Chatardová has had a packed schedule this summer as the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU began on 1 July. “We will continue presenting and promoting our priorities on a variety of different occasions, be it in the House of Lords’ European Committee, in the respective committee in the Scottish Parliament or in all sorts of other formats with our partners here in UK. We marked the beginning of our Presidency with a jazz concert by Emil Viklický and are planning other cultural events in collaboration with Czech Centre London.” However, she remarks that her country has taken up the rotating Presidency at “an exceptionally difficult time. But we have determined the following five priority areas: Managing the refugee crisis and Ukraine’s post-war recovery; Energy security; Reinforcement of European defence capacities, including cybersecurity; Strategic resilience of the EU’s economy and Resilience of democratic institutions.”

Considering her career, Ambassador Chatardová remarks: “I have a lot of beautiful memories. But if I had to choose one, it would be, the day in 2016 that I received the Legion of Honour – Commandeur – for the significant development of Czech-French relations. I was the first Czech woman to receive this French award. I cherish this moment as a reminder of all the hard work and a representation of the advances in diplomatic relations we contributed to.”

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