Czech foreign minister urges Iran to help find solution to Syrian crisis

Lubomír Zaorálek, Hassan Rouhani, photo: CTK

On a four day visit to Iran, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaorálek on Monday met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to discuss the need for cooperation in resolving the migrant crisis, global security issues and the breakthrough agreement on the country’s nuclear program which could bring a revitalization of economic relations.

Lubomír Zaorálek, Hassan Rouhani, photo: CTK
The turmoil in the Middle East and the humanitarian crisis that has displaced millions of people topped the agenda of Minister Zaorálek’s talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The Czech foreign minister stressed that the escalating refugee crisis called for an alliance of countries that would act together to seek political solutions that would consolidate the war-torn countries from which millions of people are fleeing. He said Iran, which was a stable and safe country and which acted as a shield against the terrorism unleashed by the Islamic State, could play a key role in helping to find a solution to the conflict in Syria. The Czech foreign minister stressed that it was beyond Europe’s means to resolve this crisis alone and that the key players in the region must be the ones to lead the way.

“What is needed in Syria is a joint effort which would pave the ground for a political solution. So far we have repeatedly seen these efforts fail.”

Syria, photo: Voice of America News, Public Domain
The Czech foreign minister also welcomed the agreement on the limitation of the Iranian nuclear program signed in July of this year which should open the way for the lifting of economic sanctions and lead to closer contacts and cooperation with Europe. Mr. Zaorálek said he hoped this would mark a new chapter in the two countries’ business relations.

Although the Czech Republic has a good reputation as a business partner in Iran the volume of business and trade has dropped by a half in recent years, not only due to the economic sanctions but due to a diplomatic spat over the Persian broadcasts of Prague-based Radio Free Europe due to which Teheran withdrew its ambassador from Prague in 1998.

The visit by the Czech foreign minister, the first since the late 1990s is an effort to mend relations and both sides appear to be ready for it. Mr. Zaorálek was accompanied to Iran by a delegation of around 60 business leaders seeking to tap new business opportunities opening up, particularly in the spheres of transport infrastructure, engineering, the steel and the aviation industries and environmental technologies. Mr. Zaorálek, who opened a business forum in Teheran, said the ground was being prepared for a reset in business relations but he warned that a revitalization of business ties would take years rather than months.

Lubomír Zaorálek, Mohammad Javad Zarif, photo: CTK
“We have an agreement against double taxation and are preparing an agreement on mutual protection of investments so we are doing everything possible to assist the process.”

The visit to Teheran by the Czech foreign minister will be followed up by a visit to Prague by his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.