Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is no longer counting on building a centre for
orphans in Syria and has announced his intention to send money instead.
The prime minister said he would respond to an appeal for financial aid from the local authorities by sending half a million crowns from his personal account and said he hoped others would follow his example.
The prime minister has long defended his government’s decision not to admit orphan migrants to the Czech Republic by arguing that the country is doing a great deal to help migrants in their home countries.
He earlier stated his intention to build a centre for orphans in Syria, but now said that according to more recent findings finances to organizations helping migrants were needed much more.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said in an interview with the weekly
Respekt published on Sunday that the Czech Republic’s plan to build a
centre for war orphans has been rejected “by the Syrian side”.
He said the Syrians did not want the Czechs to build the centre themselves and proposed their own project, which “was about six times more expensive than ours” and so he rejected it.
Babiš has been a consistent opponent of accepting refugees on Czech territory, arguing that facilities should be for them in their home countries of in neighbouring states.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs has come out in favour of firmer EU action against Turkey over its offensive into Northern Syria and attacks on Kurds. Tomáš Petříček says Russia and the Damascus government are benefiting most from the current situation – and says further talks on Turkey joining the EU are at present impossible.
The Czech Republic has halted arms exports to Turkey in response to
Ankara's incursion into northern Syria, Interior Minister Jan
Hamáček (Social Democrats) announced via Twitter on Monday evening,
following a government meeting. Trade Minister Karel Havlíček, whose
ministry had published the country's arms export figures earlier that
day, said that armaments exports to Turkey only make up around CZK 140
The news comes after meeting of the European Union's foreign ministers in Luxembourg, where member states pledged to suspend weapons exports to Turkey, but did not go as far as to implement a formal EU-wide arms embargo. During which Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) told journalists that he will propose to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš that the Czech Republic take part in an arms embargo on Turkey.
Around 60 Kurds living in the Czech Republic gathered in front of the US
Embassy in Prague on Monday to protest against the Turkish offensive in
Northern Syria. They also asked Czech state representatives to do
everything in their power to stop the Turkish attack.
The president of the Kurdish Civic Association in the Czech Republic, who was also the organizer of the demonstration, Rashid Khalil, told the Czech News Agency that the place was chosen in reaction to the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria. Khalil likened the behaviour of the world powers to the Munich Agreement of 1938.
Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček summoned the Turkish
ambassador for a meeting on Monday to reiterate the European Union’s
priority of finding a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis in Syria
and called on Turkey to halt its ongoing military operations in the region.
An official statement posted on the ministry’s website on Monday morning expressed particular concern over the violent death of the Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf on Saturday and those of many other civilians. The Czech Republic respects Turkey’s right to defend its border, but strongly opposes the massive military intervention, the statement goes on to say.
The Czech Republic’s top officials met to clear up the country’s stand on a number of a hot foreign policy issues on Thursday, voicing condemnation of the Turkish military offensive in northern Syria and rejecting President Zeman’s proposal for the Czech Republic to revoke its recognition of Kosovo as an independent state.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said on Thursday that the Czech
government agrees with the European Union’s condemnation of Turkey’s
ongoing military offensive in northern Syria to create a refugee zone.
Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies attacked Kurdish militia on Wednesday, pounding them with air strikes and artillery before starting a ground operation. The assault began days after US President Donald Trump withdrew American troops from the area.
Following a meeting in early September with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the United Nations, Mr Babiš had said that the Visegrad Group (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland) supported Ankara’s intention to create a refugee zone in northern Syria.
Earlier this week, however, the Czech prime minister said that he was surprised by the situation and warned that military intervention could lead to another wave of refugees heading for Europe.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) had earlier warned in an official statement that the Turkish offensive would “only worsen the situation of civilians and refugees in the region”.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček warned that the ongoing Turkish
offensive into northern Syria will “only worsen the situation of
civilians and refugees in the region” in an official statement published
on the website of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said that
currently there is no possibility other than diplomatic pressure to calm
the situation and that he expects a common EU approach to be formulated
Mr. Petříček further suggested that the United States should also contribute towards a solution and reiterated that the Czech Republic continues to support the peace process in Syria.
Turkey launched its long-planned military operation against Kurdish fighters on earlier on Wednesday in north-east Syria after U.S. forces withdrew from the area.