Czech Republic closes embassy in Tripoli in face of continuing unrest
On Monday the last Czechs remaining in Libya departed for home in light of the increased violence and unrest in the country. A day earlier the Czech Embassy in Tripoli shut down temporarily, with all diplomatic staff, including the Czech ambassador, flying back to Prague. Currently, no one knows which direction the situation in the country will take, as anti-government forces clash with those loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
“Since the unrest began, the situation gradually worsened from hour to hour, from day to day. It began in the eastern part of the country, but by the time clashes had reached the outskirts of Tripoli and the suburbs, and some districts, it became obvious, following careful analysis that the embassy would have to shut down. The situation only got worse and required those of us there, all Czechs, not only those of us at the embassy, to proceed very cautiously.”
According to the ambassador, the embassy was in touch with Czech nationals throughout the crisis and those leaving the country, the last 23 or so, were able to do so without unexpected difficulties. Those returning home included both employees of international corporations, as well as expatriates. Ambassador Koutský:
Back in the Czech Republic, it is certainly too early to say when the Czech diplomatic mission to the strife-hit North African country will resume. The embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – who a US official called delusional – has shown no sign of calling an end to the violence and more bloody clashes and reprisals are feared. On Monday new sanctions were passed against Libya, including a freezing of assets, a weapons embargo and a travel-ban for Mr Gaddafi, his family and personal entourage.
But the leader has been defiant, telling the BBC and ABC news in his first interview with Western journalists, that there was no unrest in his country and that his people ‘loved him’. Even as other options are being considered, including the introduction of a no-fly zone and a possible intervention by US troops – and as the humanitarian situation in the country worsens – it is clear it will be some time before foreign diplomats return. The Czech ambassador to Tripoli, Josef Koutský, again: