“It’s our responsibility to help”: Exhibition highlights Czech assistance abroad

Exhibition highlighting Czech assistance abroad

An exhibition on Czech humanitarian aid and development cooperation was unveiled on the Dvořák embankment in Prague on Tuesday. Organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it aims to raise awareness of the different ways in which Czechia is helping abroad. I discussed the project with Petr Gandalovič, head of the ministry’s Department for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid:

Petr Gandalovič  (right) with foreign minister Jan Lipavský  (middle) | Photo: Klára Stejskalová,  Radio Prague International

“Of course, as a country that has reached the economic status we have, it is our responsibility to help those who have not, but also, it is in our interest to increase stability around us and also in places where people may have the tendency to emigrate in search of a better life.

“It is also a very pragmatic approach that says: first we help and then we may start doing business. So our companies that participate in development cooperation may eventually find opportunities in those countries and do business with these countries.”

So what are currently the main priorities of Czech humanitarian aid and development cooperation?

Why do we help? Because... | Photo: Klára Stejskalová,  Radio Prague International

“The priorities are slightly different in humanitarian aid and development cooperation, and we should also not forget about transformation cooperation. These are the three pillars of our assistance abroad.

“With humanitarian aid, you obviously help those who are in need without political or geographic preferences. That is what distinguishes it from development cooperation that should lead to some meaningful development of the partner countries, so obviously the most important condition is the interest of the partner country’s government to cooperate with us.

“When it comes to transformational cooperation, as the name suggests, here we are trying to promote democratization tendencies and we may not necessarily cooperate with the partner government. Sometimes these are totalitarian governments and we support democratic people’s movement organizations, which basically are trying to promote free journalism, freedom of people, rule of law and all these things.”

What is the main aim of this exhibition? Is it to attract more people to get involved in providing humanitarian aid?

Jan Lipavský | Photo: Klára Stejskalová,  Radio Prague International

“The exhibition is part of a bigger campaign to promote our activities in development cooperation and humanitarian aid, because we think that people sometimes do not fully understand the meaning of development cooperation.

“When a tragedy happens elsewhere in the world, Czechs are known to be very compassionate and they collect enormous amounts of money be it for Ukraine or, most recently, in the wake of the earthquake in Turkey.

“But when it comes to regular development cooperation, I think more explanation is needed and this is one of the purposes of this campaign and the exhibition itself.

“We will continue with debates with different stakeholders, universities, NGOs and even in the Parliament, where we are planning to hold debates with MPs.”

Author: Ruth Fraňková
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