Czech foreign minister unveils priorities for EU presidency

Jan Lipavský

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský on Tuesday outlined his ministry’s priorities for the upcoming Czech EU Presidency. He stressed the need to continue helping Ukraine, boost the EU’s defense and security structures and promote democratic institutions and the rule of law.

The Czech foreign minister said the country was ready to rise to the challenge of heading the EU Council through a turbulent period caused by the Russian war in Ukraine and respond to the needs created by the heightened security threat. He said the country’s first policy goal would be to help Ukraine defend itself against the brutal aggression in every possible way.

“The Czech Republic will continue to support Ukraine militarily and with material aid and we will continue to strongly back the country’s integrity. Within our presidency role we will push for Ukraine to receive EU candidate status, address problems linked to the displacement of millions of Ukrainians and prepare for the country’s post-war reconstruction.”

Minister Lipavský said that many of the country's priorities at the helm of the EU are linked to boosting EU security – be it energy security, boosting the country’s defense structures or cybersecurity at a time when Russia is increasingly waging a hybrid war against the Western world. He said Prague holds the view that the eastward expansion of the EU would boost stability and security in Europe.

“As regards our geographic priorities – in addition to securing candidate status for Ukraine we feel that it is important to continue preparing the ground for the EU’s expansion to the Western Balkans – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made that all the more topical, and also for Moldova and Georgia, which would get it conditionally.”

Although the Czech Republic recognizes the need to proceed along the standard route in granting EU membership to new applicants and not take any shortcuts, it says it is important to support the democratic processes in these countries by giving them hope regarding the prospects for EU membership.

Equally important, the Czech foreign minister said, will be the Indo-Pacific and Sahel regions, where the aim will be to promote regional stability, development and technological cooperation.

Photo:  Office of Czech Government

Another big priority for the Czech Presidency will be to promoting civil society, democracy, and a free press both inside and outside of the EU.

"The Czech Republic wants to draw on the legacy of Václav Havel in promoting democracy, rule of law and human rights. This will include support for democratic institutions, civil society and free media, including, for example, support for independent Russian and Belarusian media.”

Last, but not least, the Czech foreign minister stressed that in order to fulfil these goals and stand up to the Russian threat Europe needs to deepen the transatlantic partnership and boost EU-US cooperation in the areas of energy security, economic cooperation and defense.