Opinion poll reveals unusual perception of Czechs by foreigners

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A recent opinion poll commissioned by the Foreign Ministry that was carried out in six different countries - including Great Britain and the United States - was tried to find out what the Czech Republic's image abroad was. The outcome leaves much to be desired. Czechs are reportedly viewed as a sort of poor nation of simple villagers. And not only that; contrary to common stereotypes about good beer and beautiful girls, many foreigners surprisingly view the Czech Republic as a nation of producers of sunflower oil and tower clocks. Radio Prague's Martin Mikule called sociologist Martin Potucek from Charles University earlier and asked him to what extent, he believes, this kind of opinion poll reflects reality.

"First of all, the outcome of the research very much depends on the methodology used. Second, it also reflects the real situation of a nation in the world, and third, it reflects the image of the nation in the eyes of foreigners. There might be problems in all the three parts of the complex relationship."

I think it also depends where such opinion poll is carried out. What do you think would be the difference between the image of Czechs in European countries such as Germany or France and for example Asian countries such as China or Japan on the other hand?

German and French people will definitely know more about Czechs, even more so Germans as they are neighbours. They have the possibility to learn more from the everyday experience. Another thing is that neighbours in general tend to have problems with each other. French people are probably more indifferent in terms of seeing Czechs as a nation, whereas in the case of Germans there were very difficult times of mutual relationship with Czechs in modern history. So the image of Czechs in the eyes of Germans and vice versa, are influenced by those difficult times.

Does it mean that the image of the Czech Republic is better in more distant countries such as China or in South America?

"Well, I am speaking about general rules. It can be applied also to other nations and their neighbours. Normally nations that are in direct touch have more problems with each other, but I don't think that people in China or in Japan are well informed about Czech nation."

What do you think about the image of Czechs abroad? Are you happy with it? Do you think it is corresponds to reality?

"Well, I am not happy with the image of Czechs. It was and it still is very much influenced by the communist period. But I think the image may change. What is the most important in my understanding are real life changes in a particular country. So in that case Czechs may do their best for their image abroad by being more reliable, producing more quality products, being more polite and so forth."