Andrej Babis and Milos Zeman


Babis: Honorary Consulate To Open In Jerusalem

Andrej Babiš, Czech Corruption, Miloš Zeman

Prague, April 20 (CTK) – The Czech Republic will open its honorary consulate in Jerusalem within a few months and it is considering opening the Czech Centre there during President Milos Zeman’s visit to Israel at the end of the year, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) told CTK today.


Prague hopes that this step will not harm either the EU’s joint stance or the U.N resolution on Jerusalem, Babis added.


“We intend to open a honorary consulate in Jerusalem within several months,” Babis said.


“The situation is being assessed now. One of the considered alternatives is the opening of the Czech Centre in Jerusalem, if possible at the end of the year and in connection with the planned visit by the Czech president to Israel,” said Babis, who resigned with his minority government after it lost a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies in January, but keeps ruling pending the talks on a new cabinet.


A possible opening of the Czech centre, a subsidised organisation of the Foreign Ministry that mainly deals with culture projects, will not support a conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, he added.


“This step would not violate the EU common foreign policy and the fulfilment of the respective resolutions of the U.N. Security Council,” Babis pointed out.


Both the U.N. and EU stress in their stances that Jerusalem should be the capital of both Israel and the future state of Palestine. This is also why countries still have their diplomatic representation in Tel Aviv.


President Milos Zeman, who repeatedly supported the transfer of the embassy, welcomes the steps announced by the PM, Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK. “However, our goal remains unchanged. This is the Czech embassy in Jerusalem,” Ovcacek texted.


The strengthening of the Czech representation on Jerusalem has been discussed for quite a long time.


The debate on the change of the embassy’s seat was revived after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the intention to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem last December.


Babis rejected the idea last December. He said no further conflicts should be provoked in this region.


Babis also commented on a possible moving of the Czech embassy to Jerusalem in his letter to the authors of the petition for the embassy’s relocation, which the Reflex weekly published on Thursday.


Babis writes that it is usual to have an embassy seated in the capital. He called the fact that this was not the case in Israel “an absurd and unsubstantiated exception.”


“This is why the Czech Republic will proceed in harmony with the common diplomatic practice,” he wrote.


The Czech Republic practically recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at the demarcation line from 1967, Babis reminded.


“This opinion is also in compliance with the common practice applied by the countries during state visits of their official delegations,” he added.


Some groups in the Czech Republic opposed the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem. They presented their own petition recently, which was supported among others by Jan Kavan, former foreign minister and the President of the United Nations General Assembly in 2002-2003.


Neither Babis nor the Foreign Ministry has reacted to this petition yet, Zdenek Jehlicka, from the Not in Our Name group, told CTK today.


The Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry repeatedly said it was considering some representation in Jerusalem.


According to the ministry, any changes of the Czech representation in Israel will be considered with respect to the other states’ standpoints and the development of the peace process. The Czech Republic does not want to diffuse the EU’s common policy in this respect either or block the dialogue with Palestine.