Czech Foreign Ministry asked to address growing public safety concerns in wake of Palestinian embassy incident

Palestinian embassy in Prague, photo: CTK

Following last week’s deadly explosion at the new Palestinian embassy building in Prague and the discovery of illegally held weapons on the premises there has been growing concern in the district regarding public safety. The mayor of Suchdol, which is home to the new embassy, has asked for it to be relocated, pointing out that the diplomatic mission violated not only Czech laws but the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. I called the Foreign Ministry‘s spokeswoman Johana Grohová to find out whether the ministry had demanded an explanation from the Palestinian authorities and whether it was dealing with the public’s safety concerns.

Palestinian embassy in Prague,  photo: CTK
“Yes, we have been in contact with Palestinian officials, the deputy minister of foreign affairs, Jiri Schneider, met with his counterpart on Friday, they discussed the issue and the Palestinian side promised to verify whether they had complied with Czech law.”

Did they explain what the weapons were doing there?

“We are still expecting them to clarify how the weapons got into the new embassy.”

The mayor of Suchdol said outright that he did not wish for the embassy to remain on the district’s premises for security reasons – I understand he met with Deputy Foreign Minister Schneider – does the ministry share the mayor’s concerns?

“Yes, the deputy foreign minister made it clear that we share the security concerns of the inhabitants of Suchdol, we want to communicate with the mayor and his colleagues on this issue, but it is not a simple one. We cannot simply force out the embassy from this location because they are private owners. So we are ready to talk with the local people about this issue and try to find a solution.”

Right, so it is a long-term prospect...

“Yes, I understand it is a long-term prospect.”

Will there be a heightened police presence around the embassy in the meantime then if people are worried about security?

Johana Grohová,  photo: archive of Czech Foreign Ministry
“I think that we need to see what the options are and also what is possible financially. So at the moment there is no concrete solution on the table that we would advocate as the most practical one.”

The Foreign Ministry has been criticized for being lukewarm on the issue –for not taking a strong line with the Palestinian side on this matter – do you feel that the ministry has been emphatic enough in this respect?

“I don’t think this criticism is justified because we really need to wait for the results of the police investigation, we cannot just come up with statements out of the blue. We need to have the facts in front of us and then we can decide on further action and further steps.”