Pundit on Fiala’s US visit: Czech initiative for Ukraine has increased Czechia’s stature on world stage

Joe Biden and Petr Fiala

Following talks with US President Joe Biden on Monday, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala visited the US Congress on Tuesday meeting with House Speaker Mike Johnson and a number of Democrat and Republican lawmakers ahead of a crucial vote on funding for Ukraine.

The Czech prime minister has been a staunch supporter of military aid to Ukraine and I asked political analyst Jiří Pehe whether the timing of the Czech prime minister’s visit to the US added to its significance.

Jiří Pehe | Photo: Luboš Vedral,  Czech Radio

“I think the timing of the visit was important because Prime Minister Fiala visited the US exactly at the same time when the House of Representatives will be voting on one of the most important pieces of legislation in recent history. The fate of Ukraine will depend on whether the US will decide to support the country. So yes, the timing of the visit was quite important. Whether he was able to influence US lawmakers is, of course, a different story.”

The Czech shells-for-Ukraine initiative has nevertheless been at the forefront of media attention. Has the Czech Republic’s active foreign policy improved its standing in transatlantic ties?

Artillery shells  | Photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine/Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 2.0

“I think that because of the Czech initiative the stature of the Czech Republic has increased significantly. One can see the Czech Republic being mentioned in the world media, the international community is watching this initiative with a lot of attention and politicians such as Joe Biden, but also many other politicians in the West, have noted with admiration that the Czech Republic took charge with this initiative. So yes, it has been a very fortunate and good initiative on the part of the Czech Republic and I think that it may also have contributed to the fact that Prime Minister Fiala was received by Joe Biden.”

The prime minister’s visit was dominated by foreign policy. Was there a business side to it as well?

“Of course, there is always a business side to visits such as this one. The US has some real business interests in the Czech Republic, starting with the purchase of F35 fighter jets and ending with a project that Westinghouse will be working on in the Czech Republic involving modular nuclear reactors and supplying Czech nuclear power plants with uranium. So business interests are always there and we know from the past that American presidents often meet their foreign counterparts from smaller countries depending on the business interests that the US has in any particular country.”

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