The Czech Republic received a diplomatic directive from Nigeria. The country canceled the visit of the Czech delegation headed by the prime minister without compensation. And that at a time when the Czech delegation was already in Africa. According to the Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, Jaroslav Bžoch (ANO), this is a diplomatic slap in the face of Czech diplomacy in connection with Czech support for Israel. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský downplays the whole situation and does not want to associate Nigeria’s move with Czech support for Israel.
Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates) would not connect the cancellation of Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s (ODS) trip to Nigeria with Czech support for Israel in the United Nations (UN). Czech diplomacy has not noticed any such signals, he told reporters during a visit to Vienna.
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. Jerusalem is facing growing criticism, especially from Muslim countries, because of the airstrikes in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which it launched after the bloody attack of the Hamas movement on southern Israel.
“I wouldn’t connect it in any way,” said Lipavský. According to him, it is necessary to realize that the Prime Minister embarked on an ambitious journey involving a total of five African countries. “There was a relatively small window of time for the implementation of the trip. The partner party simply came to the conclusion that it is not able to implement a full-fledged program for the Prime Minister under the conditions, in that time window,” says the head of diplomacy.
“I think the delegation arranged accordingly, and I certainly wouldn’t attach any deeper meanings to it. That simply happens sometimes in international politics,” added Lipavský.
“Supporting Israel is right. But it can be done in a different way than with an activist approach,” said Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, Jaroslav Bžoch (ANO). He recalled the significant support of Israel by government politicians, dressing up in Israeli flags or Defense Minister Jana Černochová’s statement about withdrawing from the United Nations.
“This will not leave cold our partners in Arabia or Africa, which we need. Even if they don’t have such a friendly relationship with Palestine, they have to think about the domestic audience and whether it is right now to accept such a one-sided delegation,” added the deputy, who described the cancellation of the trip to Nigeria as a slap in the face of Czech foreign policy.
The minister has no information that Nigeria canceled the visit because of its support for Israel. “If it was supposed to be this gesture on the part of that country, then it would probably have to be accompanied by some information, a signal. Our diplomacy has not recorded anything like that, so I would rather put those interpretations aside,” he said.
The cancellation of the prime minister’s state visit is considered by Vilém Řehák, an analyst of the Association for International Issues (AMO), to be a non-standard step and a relatively strong diplomatic gesture. “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 said.
According to political scientist Josef Mlejenko from Charles University, the cancellation of the trip shows that Czech ministers should take into account the real interests of the Czech Republic and behave more pragmatically in their statements on international politics.
“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.