Czech political leaders seeks to read off same foreign policy page
Czech president Miloš Zeman is set to meet with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and other government and parliament representatives at Prague Castle on Tuesday for the second time this year to streamline their foreign policy stances. The Mediterranean refugee crisis and the situation in Ukraine are expected to be among the main issues on the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting.
After the first meeting in February, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said all the participants agreed that finding a unified voice was absolutely essential. Jakub Janda, the deputy head of the think tank European Values, says that despite the good intentions, the meeting has not had any significant impact on the country’s foreign policy:
“Actually, the officials were trying, but the problem is what our president, Mr Zeman, is doing. You can have as many meeting as you want, but if the key player, the president, is ignoring any kind of coordination in these areas, they are basically useless. So I am glad that they are trying to have an influence on him but as we see in reality, he is ignoring anything that could be called coordination.”
However, not everyone seems to share the president’s view. Former Czech Army Chief Petr Pavel has in the past opposed the idea, pointing out that French and British field hospitals operating in Jordan in the past have raised mixed reactions.
In an interview for the Czech Television, Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický said that although he wasn’t entirely against the idea, he was hoping to find a better form of help that could be offered.
“You can hardly oppose the fact that a field hospital would bring some sort of help to a refugee camp with 600,000 people. There is no contradiction there. But the people in the refugee camps are mostly civilians, and there are many children among them, and we don’t have paediatricians, we have military medical staff which is specialised in different sort of interventions. But I believe we will wind a way to help the civilians, although it might take slightly different form.”
But one of the topics on which Czech politicians largely stand united, is the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, namely the refugee quota proposed by the European Commission. The president and the government have unanimously rejected the idea, saying that the decision should be solely the responsibility of individual EU member states.