Foreign Ministry increasingly isolated over UN resolution

Foreign MinisterJan Kavan

Over the course of the past week the Czech Foreign Ministry has become increasingly isolated over a UN resolution condemning human rights violations in Cuba. The main bone of contention so far has been a clause condemning economic sanctions against Cuba as counterproductive. Poland, which originally worked on preparations for the resolution has distanced itself from this clause, and US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has twice expressed his deep concern over it. Now the resolution has not only been fiercely criticised by Cuba itself, but also by opposition MPs back home. Nick Carey has this report.

Foreign Minister Jan Kavan
The Czech-sponsored UN resolution condemning human rights violations in Cuba, is anything but popular, on all sides. Following criticism from the United States, the Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister, Angelo Dalmau, added his country's condemnation on Tuesday during a visit to Bratislava:

According to Mr Dalmau, the Czech Foreign Ministry is trying to join the US in taking revenge on the Cuban people and is making false accusations. Czech-Cuban relations, with have been strained for some years now, appear to have sunk even further.

But the bad news for the Czech Foreign Ministry doesn't stop there. Criticism of the clause condemning economic sanctions from US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has created fears amongst some Czech politicians that relations with the US could be damaged. There has been widespread criticism from opposition parties for the Foreign Ministry, and in particular Foreign Minister Jan Kavan.

According to Petr Necas, an MP for the main opposition Civic Democrats, the resolution is a mistake, because it is not in the national interests of the Czech Republic:

"I think this was not a good step on the part of the Foreign Ministry, because I think that it is our vital national interest to have good relations with the United States, and I am absolutely sure that this step has damaged our relations with the United States."

In the long run, Mr Necas believes that the only way that the Czech Foreign Ministry will be able to escape further criticism from the US and at home, will be to drop the controversial clause of the resolution altogether:

"I am sure that the Foreign Ministry will have to make a very simple decision. Either the ministry will in principle support human rights around the world, which means that we must criticise not just Cuba, but also, for example, Vietnam or China. Or, we must accept a realistic foreign policy, which means that our resolution must conform with our national interests. I don't think that this resolution, which also criticises the economic sanctions of the United States against Cuba, is in our national interests."