UN Secretary General debates security issues, climate change and human rights in Prague

Ban Ki-Moon, photo: CTK

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is in Prague for two days of talks with Czech top officials and a series of informal public appearances ranging from a lecture at Charles University to a walk-about in the city centre to inspect Prague’s flood barriers. One of his first meetings upon arrival on Thursday was with Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek. I asked the Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Johana Grohová what was at the centre of interest of the talks.

Crimea,  photo: CTK
“The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Zaorálek hosted a dinner in honour of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the ministry and on that occasion they discussed the situation in Ukraine and its impact on relations with Russia. The spoke about the consequences of the Crimea crisis in particular when it comes to central Europe, when it comes to its energy dependence and independence, which is an issue that we would like to promote as a country. At the same time we discussed the impact of the much colder relations with Russia on various conflicts that we deal with, for example in Syria. The Secretary General also appreciated the Czech role when it comes to promoting human rights in the world, noting that this is a traditional aspect of Czech foreign policy. The two politicians also discussed Czech and South Korean relations since South Korea is the Secretary General’s native country and Mr. Ban Ki-Moon noted that Prague as very beautiful city is a big attraction for South Korean tourists. “

Ban Ki-Moon,  photo: CTK
I understand they also spoke about the Czech Republic’s interest in taking part in more UN peacekeeping missions –in particular the mission in the Golan Heights, which the Czechs wanted to join in 2015, is that right?

“They discussed that issue and Foreign Minister Zaorálek confirmed our interest in contributing to more UN peacekeeping missions. That particular mission (Golan Heights) was discussed in the sense that this mission was already filled by other military personnel and we should look for other suitable opportunities for our soldiers.”

And I understand that the subject of climate change is of particular interest to the UN Secretary General?

Lubomír Zaorálek,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“Indeed climate change and its impact on various countries –in central Europe and elsewhere –was discussed too. The Secretary General is aware of the fact that we have suffered some major floods and said he would be inspecting some of the flood barriers built in Prague.”

What about the atmosphere of the meeting?

“When it comes to the atmosphere during the dinner it was very informal and friendly. It was a very easy-going conversation between the two politicians and I think that everyone had a very good feeling about the course of the dinner and its results.”