Dear reader,


In this newsletter: upcoming Czech EU Presidency priorities, Slovak delegation visits Taiwan, Central Europe remains exempt from the EU oil embargo, Czech cybersecurity watchdog issues security warning on smart electric meters. 

The Czech Republic is set to assume the Presidency in the EU Council in July after France in a very difficult situation. While the war in Ukraine is undoubtedly going to figure prominently on the Presidency agenda, the Czech Republic also wants to make a contribution in other policy areas. One of the key foreign policy priorities will be bolstering the EU’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific


As a part of the preparations for the Presidency, the Czech Republic also invested into developing its own Indo-Pacific strategy and named a special envoy for the region, ambassador Libor Sečka. Next week, just a few weeks before the start of the Presidency, Prague is going to host a High-Level Dialogue on the Indo-Pacific, setting the tone for the Presidency. While aware of its limitations as a mid-sized landlocked country, Prague is seeking to find its niche in the region, for example in working with partners in the region on nontraditional security issues such as cybersecurity or hybrid warfare, but also promoting trade liberalization and connectivity. 


The Indo-Pacific framework for the Czech and EU engagement also provides a new perspective on the ties with China. The Czech Republic is not planning to focus specifically on China policy during its Presidency, but Beijing will always be the elephant in the room. Moreover, considering the ongoing internal revision of ties with Beijing and calls for leaving the 16+1 format of cooperation with China, the bilateral tensions between Prague and Beijing may also be exposed out in the open during the Presidency. 


  • Slovak delegation visits Taiwan. Following on the heels of several political delegations from Central and Eastern Europe, a group of Slovak parliamentarians, led by Deputy Speaker of the Slovak National Council, Milan Laurinčík, and a governor of Bratislava Region, Juraj Droba, visited Taiwan. Illustrating the importance of such support for the self-governing island, the delegation was welcomed also by the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. The trip follows the recent overtures from Slovakia towards Taiwan, including a donation of vaccines as well as the visit of the Deputy Minister of Industry, Karol Galek, late last year. Taiwan also recently provided donations to Slovakia for dealing with the influx of the Ukrainian refugees. The cooperation between the two sides has been intensifying, with Slovak expectations revolving mostly around Taiwanese investments and cooperation in the semiconductor industry. During the visit, Bratislava region is also set to sign a cooperation agreement with the city of Kaohsiung. The visit of the Slovak delegation underlines the improving position of Taiwan in the region, capitalizing also on disillusion with China. 

  • Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary remain exempt from the EU oil embargo. The EU has agreed to impose the sixth package of sanctions on Russia, constituting a hotly contested energy embargo immediately impacting 75 percent of Russian oil imports. Besides oil, the sanctions also block the access of Russia's largest bank Sberbank to the SWIFT system, ban three Russian state-owned broadcasters and broaden the list of individuals suspected of involvement in war crimes in Ukraine. The EU has also approved additional investment in renewables which may enable the countries to diversify their energy sources. The resulting sanction plan offers a compromise solution for Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia which are set to continue importing Russian oil through the Druzhba pipeline with no deadline for the cut-off set as of now. Due to their considerable dependence on Russian oil, these Central European countries were previously offered a longer transition period which, however, did not appear in the final document. The whole negotiation process was slowed down predominantly by Hungary’s loud articulation of its concerns regarding the oil embargo and requests for financial support from the EU in order to upgrade its energy infrastructure. Moreover, Hungary (successfully) demanded that the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church who has vocally supported the Ukraine invasion, be removed from the sanction list. 

  • Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NÚKIB) issued a security warning on smart electric meters manufactured outside the EU. Based on the official document, NÚKIB argues that utilization of technical parts or programs produced outside of the EU countries may influence the measuring process and, therefore, produce false data. Alternatively, these appliances may also seriously impact energy transmission in the country via disrupting the offtake from the transmission network. In case of a mass disconnect, it may endanger the overall stability of the transmission and potentially lead to a blackout. NÚKIB assesses the threat as “likely or very likely” due to the capabilities of potential suppliers of these technologies and the extent of potential impacts. Czech energy providers are now required to take this information into account while selecting their suppliers. The warning is linked to the upcoming tenders for the purchase of electric meters. The risks to the critical infrastructure have been highlighted by the recent attacks from Russia on the Ukrainian electric grid.

  • “Retaliation from China is possible but it’s unclear what that would actually entail, and whether Beijing, which already has problematic relations with the EU over its economic coercion of Lithuania, is likely to want to escalate that further,” MapInfluenCE’s Leader Ivana Karásková says regarding China’s potential reaction in case of Czech withdrawal from the 16+1 platform for Al Jazeera (read here).

  • "The EU’s ties with China have been seriously shaken by China’s 'pro-Russian neutrality' on Ukraine. Calls to reconsider strategic dependencies not just on Russia but also on China are getting more urgent," our analyst Filip Šebok writes in his article for 9DashLine (read here).

  • Our Slovak analyst Matej Šimalčík shared his insights regarding the confluence of Chinese and Russian information operations at a webinar on China's external propaganda organized by the Jamestown Foundation (watch here). 

  • "Taiwan has been very successful in building ties with the Czech policymakers and different stakeholders but also building up a positive image among the Czech general population," our analyst Filip Šebok explains for Deutsche Welle (read here).

  • “The ongoing war in Ukraine undoubtedly impacts the perceptions of European member states of not only Russia but also China. In this environment, Taiwan has an opportunity to further emerge as a valuable contributor to the European support of Ukraine,” Matej Šimalčík comments for Taiwan Plus News (watch here).

Best regards

Filip Šebok
Project Manager of MapInfluenCE

Newsletter editor: Filip Šebok

Contributions from: Filip Šebok, Veronika Blablová

@MapInfluenCE and #MapInfluenCE








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