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Czech Trade Delegation Visits Tatarstan

Czech Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka receives a traditional welcome in Kazan.
KAZAN -- The head of a Czech trade delegation visiting Tatarstan says the Czech Republic is interested in strengthening its ties to the Russian region, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Premysl Sobotka, the chairman of the Czech Senate, told RFE/RL that Czech entrepreneurs are about 10 years behind other countries in establishing trade contacts with Russian regions.

Sobotka is the head of a large trade delegation that arrived in Tatarstan today. After meetings with Tatar leaders, Sobotka is to open a Czech-Tatar investment forum in Kazan, the Tatar capital, along with representatives from 20 Czech companies.

Sobotka will also sign a cooperation agreement between the Czech Senate and Tatarstan's State Council.

In an interview ahead of his visit, Sobotka told RFE/RL the Czech side is looking forward to working with Tatarstan because it has "good perspectives for business."

He added that he prefers to develop bilateral relations instead of coordinating all foreign policy matters through the European Union.

"We all represent our own people, so we have to do the utmost to provide a better future for our country," said Sobotka.

After visiting Kazan, the Czech delegation travels to the Volga River city of Ulyanovsk and then to Moscow, where Sobotka is to meet Sergei Mironov, the head of Russia's upper house.