Foreign relations of the Czech Republic

Until 1989, the foreign policy of Czechoslovakia had followed that of the Soviet Union. Since independence, the Czechs have made integration with Western institutions their chief foreign policy objective.

Fundamental to this objective is Czech membership in the European Union. The government hopes to achieve full membership in the EU by 2003. Relations are currently governed under an association agreement which came into force in 1993. Although there have been disagreements over some economic issues, such as agricultural quotas and a recent amendment to the gaming law, relations are good, and negotiations toward full membership are proceeding smoothly.

The Czech Republic is a member of the United Nations and participates in its specialized agencies. It is a member of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. It maintains diplomatic relations with more than 85 countries, of which 63 have permanent representation in Prague. The Czech Republic became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, along with Poland and Hungary, on March 12, 1999. This membership represents a milestone in the country's foreign policy and security orientation.

Disputes - international: Liechtenstein claims restitution for 1,600 km² of land in the Czech Republic confiscated from its royal family in 1918; the Czech Republic insists that the power to claim restitution does not go back before February 1948, when the communists seized power; individual Sudeten German claims for restitution of property confiscated in connection with their expulsion after World War II; agreement with Slovakia signed 24 November 1998 resolves issues of redistribution of former Czechoslovak federal land - approval by both parliaments is expected in 2000.

Illicit drugs: major transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and minor transit point for Latin American cocaine to Western Europe; domestic consumption - especially of locally produced synthetic drugs - on the rise

See also : Czech Republic

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