Prague steps up humanitarian aid to Iraq
Czech prime minister visits Iraq to discuss humanitarian aid, military cooperation and possibilities for Czech firms in the country’s reconstruction.
Bohuslav Sobotka’s two day visit to Iraq came as Iraqi forces battled to liberate the city of Tal Afar. At a conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad the Czech head of government congratulated Iraq on its victories over IS militants and confirmed his country's continued support in the war on terrorism.
“This victory is important not just for Iraq and its people; it is vitally important for Europe as well. As we see it the war on Daesh, is a war on terror, in which Iraq must not be left to fight alone.”
Prime Minister Abadi expressed his country’s appreciation of the Czech Republic’s support both in the spheres of military cooperation and humanitarian aid.
The Czech Republic has been an active member of the U.S.-led international coalition against Islamic State, supplying Iraq with L-159 fighter jets, weapons and ammunition. In fact Iraq has been the biggest importer of Czech arms in the last two years.
The country has also shared its expertise; a 35-member team of Czech aviation experts is currently active at the Balad military base, north of Bagdad, training Iraqi pilots, while at Camp Dublin in Bagdad a team of military police officers are training recruits for the Iraqi police force.
Prime Minister Sobotka also said his country was hoping to take an active part in the rebuilding of Iraq’s war torn infrastructure and economy. Possibilities are opening up particularly in the oil industry where Czech firms have a long tradition; 60 percent of Iraq’s oil refining plants were built by former Czechoslovak companies.
Cooperation in the area of culture is already established. The oriental institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences is working to document damage to cultural monuments in Mosul since 2015 and a team of Czech archaeologists is undertaking research and excavations near the city of Erbil.