Czech foreign policy is undergoing a significant change. While previously everything was overshadowed by support for Ukraine attacked by Russia, in recent weeks new currents have significantly affected its relatively smooth flow: the dispute over the Czech ambassador in Moscow, the situation in the Middle East and also the opening of a new chapter in relations with China.
Domestic political elites will try to reconcile notes next week at a meeting of the highest constitutional officials. It is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, November 14.
According to information from Seznam Zpráv, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates) is close to an agreement with President Petr Pavl to send security expert Daniel Koštoval to the post of Czech ambassador in Moscow.
No exports, no wells
The Diplomacy and Security conference took place in the Černín Palace on Thursday. The event was opened by President Petr Pavel with Minister Lipavský. Koštoval was one of the speakers in the block “Foreign Service in a Disruptive World”. In the past, he worked in the Černín Palace, later he was the Deputy Minister of Defense, he currently works as a security researcher at the CEVRO Institute, which is personally connected to the ODS.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the basic building block of the Czech security system, even if it is not a uniformed component,” Koštoval said, among other things, in his speech. He does not give interviews at a sensitive time when it comes to his deployment to Russia. His speech at the conference was thus a unique opportunity to get an insight into his thinking about the operation of the Czech foreign service. And he showed his “hawk” face.
“The priority agenda of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is ensuring the security of the state. It is not export support or well construction. This is certainly part of the foreign service, but all of it must serve the security, ensuring the sovereignty and ability to survive of the state,” Koštoval also said.
The latter was also seen at the event in a confidential conversation with the state secretary of the Černín Palace, Radek Rubeš, who processes, among other things, personnel matters of the office.
The Czech Republic has been formally represented in Russia by Ambassador Vítězslav Pivoňka since 2018. In fact, however, he has been in Prague since the beginning of this year, and the office in the country is managed by chargé d’affaires Jiří Čistecký.
Seznam The news reported earlier that the government wants to send a diplomat at the level of ambassador to Moscow, similar to what other EU countries are doing despite their support for Ukraine – with the exception of the Baltic states.
“I insist that within the framework of diplomatic relations between the Czech Republic and Russia, the setting of representation at the level of ambassadors should not be changed. Let’s look at it practically – from the point of view of the Czech Republic’s ability to promote its interests in Russia. And even in the future Russia, which can change very dynamically, or in Russia, which, and I believe in it, will one day have to discuss how peace will come about in Ukraine,” argued Minister Lipavský in favor of this step in an earlier interview with Seznam Zrápami.
Jerusalem and China
On Wednesday, Lipavský and Pavlo had a joint lunch. “Wednesday’s meeting between Minister Lipavský and the President was part of the regular meetings between the Head of Diplomacy and the Head of State. His topic was the foreign policy events of the last few days, personnel issues and today’s Diplomacy and Security conference, which was opened by the President at the invitation of the Minister in the Černín Palace,” said Daniel Drake, spokesperson for diplomacy. He did not comment on a possible agreement on the issue of the ambassador in Moscow. The process of appointing ambassadors takes place in secret mode.
“Diplomacy must remain one of the key tools for ensuring our security. Personnel strong, united, relying above all on responsible and efficient diplomats. The role of diplomacy within the state is obvious. The added value of the information obtained by diplomats in the field is simply irreplaceable,” the president said, among other things, in his speech at the Černín Palace – the seat of diplomacy.
According to two Seznam Zpráv sources, the top constitutional officials are to meet next Tuesday – i.e. President Petr Pavel, Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09) and President of the Senate Miloš Vystrčil (ODS). The last time they met in this format was this May.
Neither the castle nor the Government Office have yet confirmed the date, but neither have they denied it. “We will not communicate the date of a possible meeting of the highest constitutional officials yet,” said Maria Pfeiferová from the press department of the presidential office when asked by Seznam Zpráv.
Recently, new “cards” have spoken to Czech foreign policy. In particular, the conflict in the Middle East, which was unleashed by Hamas with a terrorist attack on Israel. While support is unwavering across Czech politics and institutions, there is no consensus on, for example, moving the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is promoted as a solidarity move by Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who said in the House of Representatives in October that the embassy could be moved in a matter of months. However, neither Minister Lipavský nor President Pavel are too fond of the plan.
The renewal of the dialogue with China is also a new moment in Czech foreign policy. Last week, it was revealed that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and National Security Adviser and prime minister’s right-hand man Tomáš Pojar met in Beijing. At the same time, Lipavský and Pavel belong to the important drivers of the policy of support for Taiwan.