Fiala has been on a week-long tour of African countries since last Friday. According to government spokesman Václav Smolka, Nigeria has announced that it is unable to provide an adequate reception and program. According to diplomatic sources, the move may be related to Czech support for Israel in the UN. The country is facing growing criticism, particularly from Muslim states, over airstrikes in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which it launched after a bloody attack by the Hamas terrorist movement on southern Israel.
Nigeria will not give Fiala a ‘proper reception’, he canceled the visit. The move may be related to support for Israel
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Canceling the visit is a non-standard step and a relatively strong diplomatic gesture, said Řehák. “However, I personally do not believe that this should lead to any strong Czech reaction and deterioration of relations. Nigeria is a key country in Africa, we have one of the few embassies in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the two CzechTrade offices here, many companies are active in the country because it is a promising market,” he described.
Mlejnek also recalled the canceled trip of Industry Minister Jozef Síkela (STAN) to Saudi Arabia. Both unfulfilled visits testify to the fact that the ministers should behave more pragmatically, he believes. “Supporting Israel in the form of media gestures is obviously counterproductive,” he said.
He also considers the recent debate regarding the United Nations (UN) resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire between Hamas and Israel to be a media gesture. Defense Minister Jana Černochová (ODS) said at the end of October after the vote on the X social network that she was ashamed of the UN and that the Czech Republic had no business being in an organization “that supports terrorists”.
“Although these attitudes sell well at home with the electorate of the governing parties, they can lead to billions of dollars in losses abroad,” said Mlejnek. According to him, the rejection of the heinous acts of Hamas terrorists can be expressed in a different way. “And it is certainly possible, indeed right, to support Israel in some practical way, not by banging fists on the table in Czech television studios or by indignant, but basically very stupid sentences on social networks,” he added.
International position of the Czech Republic
A strong pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian stance can undermine the Czech position in Muslim countries or regions, said Řehák. “From a religious point of view, Africa is a diverse continent, the distribution between Christianity and Islam is more or less balanced and geographically concentrated,” he stated.
Niger is preparing for a possible attack by the ECOWAS community. He is negotiating with the juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso
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Nigeria is unique in that it is roughly half divided by religion even at the national level. “He follows the rule that if the presidential candidate is from the Christian south, his vice-presidential candidate is from the Muslim north, and vice versa,” added Řehák. Therefore, the principle of balancing the interests of the Muslim north and the Christian south also applies in Nigeria’s foreign policy. “In such a context, of course, a pronounced pro-Israeli and anti-Palestinian position may encounter disagreement or misunderstanding,” he summarized.
According to Řehák, the attitude of the Czech Republic to the conflict in Israel can also affect the success of the Czech Republic’s candidacy for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council in 2032 and 2033. “There are many countries in Africa and Asia that stand unequivocally on the Palestinian side in the conflict,” he said. According to him, Černochová’s statement about withdrawing from the UN is unfortunate from the point of view that African countries usually do not have a significant voice in global institutions, but the UN is an exception.
“Reacting to the vote of the General Assembly, with which I do not agree, with words about withdrawing from the UN can be understood as the Czech Republic denying other states the freedom to vote on the ground of the global organization,” added Řehák. Not only African states are sensitive to this, and it will not increase Czech prestige. “On the other hand, even in this situation, you can still get a lot of votes from non-Muslim countries in Africa, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a diplomatic disaster,” he says.
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