Kulhánek supports integrity of Ukraine and Georgia in UN address

Jakub Kulhánek

In a speech at the UN General Assembly, Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek supported the territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia and demanded the release of people detained in Belarus. He also called for more international cooperation on a host of issues.

In his first address to the annual UN General Assembly in New York, Jakub Kulhánek commented on a number of global challenges and outlined key areas of Czech foreign policy.

Early in his speech on Thursday, speaking in perfectly-accented English, the Czech minister of foreign affairs referred to the health crisis that has affected the entire world.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on individuals, societies and economies.

"It has shown us how intertwined global challenges are.

"It has also highlighted the importance of international cooperation, information sharing and communication among all actors as well as compliance with international obligations.”

Cooperation was very much the watchword of the Czech foreign policy chief’s address, as he called for countries to work together to combat terrorism, effect post-Covid renewal and respond to the challenges of climate change.

As is common, Mr. Kulhánek touched on many different parts of the world in his 15-minute talk.

Jakub Kulhánek | Photo: Mary Altaffer,  ČTK/AP

These included the Middle East, where he said Israel had the right to defend itself against terror, adding that Prague remains committed to a two-state solution.

In addition he touched on the situation in the country often referred to as Europe’s last dictatorship.

“The Czech Republic is concerned by the continuous massive repression in Belarus which has created a climate of fear in general public.

"We call for immediate release of all those unlawfully detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression or peaceful assembly, including journalists, human rights defenders and activists.

"Independent and transparent investigation into all these violations is essential.”

With his look remaining eastward, the Czech foreign minister also referred to the area that Russia regards as its “near abroad”.

“Let me reiterate the unwavering support of the Czech Republic to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of Ukraine and Georgia within their internationally recognised borders.

"In addition, we deplore any state-sponsored malign activities committed in Europe in recent years as simply unacceptable, illegal and in direct violation of everything the UN stands for. The Czech Republic has experienced it first-hand.”

Mr. Kulhánek specifically mentioned the dangers present in cyberspace, including disinformation, and said technology should be harnessed for good.

“The geopolitics of technology continues to pose an ever-greater challenge to the established norms.

"We must all work together to ensure that new digital technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, remain an enabler of human progress rather than a tool for surveillance, oppression and control.”

The minister also told those present at the 76th UN General Assembly that the protection and promotion of human rights was a cornerstone of Czech foreign policy.