Czechs have been in the forefront of worldwide attempts to save Syria’s significant archaeological heritage. The Czech National Museum has been one of the major players in those moves and on Wednesday it opened an exhibition in Prague outlining what has been lost and what has been saved during the country’s civil war.
The air strikes against military targets in Syria carried out by US, UK and France in the wake of a recent chemical attack on civilians in the Syrian city of Douma have divided the Czech political scene. While the government endorsed the attack, the president and some opposition parties denounced it as aggressive and unacceptable.
The United States have thanked the Czech Republic for supporting the
strikes on Syria carried out by the US, Britain and France on Saturday
night, the Foreign Ministry told the Czech News Agency on Sunday.
Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický on Saturday night spoke on the phone with US acting US Secretary of State John Sullivan, who informed him about the details of the attack. Mr Sullivan also told Mr Stropnický that considered the Czech Republic a reliable ally.
The US, UK and France have carried out air and missile strikes in Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack last Saturday.
Defence Minister Karla Šlechtová called an emergency meeting of the
National Security Council over the situation in Syria on Saturday. She said
after the meeting that the country's security was not threatened by
Ms Šlechtová said after the meeting that the US, UK and France have clearly shown that the use of chemical weapons can not be tolerated and that the consequences of attack on civilians have been minimized. She also said that the Czech soldiers taking part at the UN peace mission in the Golan Heights and the Czechs working at the embassy in Damascus were safe.
The Czech government responded in favor of the strike on Syria launched by
the US, Britain and France. The attack sends a clear message to those who
do not shy away from using chemical weapons, the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs said in a press release on Saturday morning.
Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický also confirmed on that as NATO ally the Czech Republic had been informed about the attack, although he didn't specify whether he was informed of the attack in advance. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the attack on Syria had been inevitable, emphasizing the Czech Republic clear stance against the use of chemical weapons.
The presidential office, on the other hand, condemned the attack and accused certain media and non-governmental organizations of supporting the war.
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.