The Czech Republic has found itself in a diplomatic tug-of-war between Turkey and the main Syrian Kurdish political party PYD following the arrest of former PYD leader Saleh Muslim in Prague. Muslim was detained at the weekend on an Interpol warrant at Turkey’s behest. Turkey has requested his extradition, while the PYD has appealed for his release.
The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan is home to some 80,000 refugees. Even with international aid pouring in, living conditions in the camp are extremely harsh. Last year the Czech government sent 40 million crowns to Jordan to finance housing units for some 2,000 refugees. Aid money earmarked this year is being used for the camps electrification. And Jordan is one of the countries targeted by the Czech government’s humanitarian medical aid program MEDEVAC, thanks to which around a thousand patients will be operated on this year. I spoke to Jordanian
Czech humanitarian aid has played a key role in helping Syrian refugees in
Jordan, lessening the motivation for them to continue on to Europe, the
Czech ambassador to Jordan Petr Hladík has said. In an interview for the
Czech News Agency, he added that Czech aid had also led to better
conditions for Czech firms exporting to Jordan; in 2016, Czech exports to
the country rose by 62 percent year-on-year.
In total, Czech humanitarian aid to Jordan last year amounted to 75 million crowns – 40 million of which of which went to the second-largest refugee camp in Jordan, Azrak. The funds went towards improving living quarters and capacity at the camp.
The Czech Republic and Jordan on Tuesday agreed to cooperate in a peaceful development of nuclear energy. The agreement was signed on Monday during a visit of Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani Mulki to Prague. According to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, it will enable better cooperation in science and research and allow Czech firms to participate on construction of nuclear reactors in Jordan. During their meeting, the Czech and Jordanian prime ministers have also discussed humanitarian aid, trade and problems in the Middle East.
The general director of the Czech National Museum has just signed an agreement committing the institution to helping Syria save, preserve and conserve much of its cultural and historical heritage damaged by six years of war. At the Prague signing, Michal Lukeš and his Syrian counterpart were on hand to describe the task they face.
The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, has denied suggestions that intelligence reports produced by the Czech embassy in Damascus are at odds with the position of the country’s NATO allies on the conflict in Syria. The charge was contained in a leaked document written by Czech diplomats at NATO HQ.
Over the last six years, 428 Syrian refugees received asylum in the Czech Republic, according to numbers released by the Czech Interior Ministry. Temporary asylum was given 389 Syrian refugees by the end of last year, while 39 received permanent asylum residence permits. The Czech Republic is not regarded as a destination country when it comes to refugees: last year the country less than 1,500 people applied for asylum here.
Czech politicians reacted to Thursday’s surprise cruise missile strike by the US on a Syrian airbase: Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Twitter expressed the hope that the strike, which used 59 cruise missiles, would prevent further chemical attacks by the Assad regime. The airbase struck is thought to have been used by Assad forces earlier this week in a gruesome chemical attack which killed at least 74 people, including children. Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnický said the US strike ordered by President Donald Trump was adequate given the nature of the Assad regime’s attack on civilians. The US airstrike was supported by Great Britain, France, and Israel and condemned by Russia. On the Czech political scene, the strike was condemned by the Communist Party.
The Czech Republic has joined widespread condemnation of Tuesday’s toxic gas attack in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province that left 100 people dead and 400 injured, many of them children. Speaking at an international conference in aid of Syria, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaorálek said that if it were confirmed that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons against innocent civilians Prague would consider resolute action, including the possibility of closing its embassy in Damascus.
Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek has warned that Prague will take ‘resolute’ action if it is proved that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for a chemical weapons attack that killed 100 and injured 400 on Tuesday. Zaorálek said that the withdrawal of Prague’s ambassador in Damascus was one option that could be taken. It is the last EU embassy still operating in the Syrian capital. The foreign minister was speaking in the sidelines of a conference in Brussels over aid to Syria. He added that a United Nations investigation should determine who was responsible for the attack. Both the Syrian government and ally, Russia, have denied responsibility. Their suggestions that the rebels were responsible have been widely dismissed.