1. What is your ordinary working day like?
I spend most of the day either working in my office or attending meetings. My work also takes me outside The Hague and, includes, of course, organising and participating in various social, cultural, and economic events. I also attend meetings of the many international organisations based in The Hague, where we represent the Czech Republic. What has kept me busy lately is the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, where I chair the Executive Council. This is a very successful organisation as it has managed to destroy 96% of chemical weapons declared worldwide and has even been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Nevertheless, chemical attacks still occur, so the atmosphere can be rather bleak during meetings.
2. How did you become an ambassador?
I was involved in international scientific and technical cooperation. Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, I moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. Initially, I did much the same work, but soon I switched to the European Communities Department and, in various positions, I participated in the whole negotiation process of the Czech Republic’s accession to the EU. After we joined the EU, I represented the Czech Republic in Brussels for five and a half years as the deputy of the Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the EU, and then I spent four years in Prague as the executive director of the Legal and Consular Section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From there, I relocated to The Hague as the ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Netherlands.
3. What do you like about your job?
I am pleased that I can contribute to the Czech Republic’s good reputation in the Netherlands and, I dare say, in the European Union as well. It's a very complex job and you never stop learning. Talking of the EU, it clearly isn’t perfect (what is?), but we would do well to consider what would have happened had we not joined. Besides the security aspect (which goes hand in hand with our NATO membership), there are a number of other benefits. We have free movement of goods, persons, services and capital, and we have access to a large single market of 28 member states. By acting in concert with fellow members, it is easier to negotiate with other countries. People can now freely choose to study or work throughout the Union, and cross borders without even noticing it. Last but not least, take a look at our standard of living and the amount of money we receive from European funds. We are not doing badly at all - we are at 88% of the average EU gross national income, up from 60% when we joined the Union. Do you think we would have managed this without EU membership? I don’t. Despite our constant grumbling, sometimes justifiably, I still believe that the Union is a huge plus for us.