Czech Foreign Minister Petříček wants a foreign policy that advocates for human rights
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) said in an interview with the Czech News Agency that the Czech Republic should have a self-confident foreign policy that includes not just following economic interests, but also advocating for values like human rights. Examples from around the globe, according to the Foreign Minister, demonstrate that it is possible to clearly hold on to a values-based starting point for diplomacy while also aiding trade relations.
Petříček also said he would like to focus not just on traditional areas for human rights support, but also on Africa, where the issue is associated with migration. "I am convinced that a country like ours should have a self-confident foreign policy," he said.
"One component of such a policy is not just economic diplomacy and following our own interests, but also advocating for the values our society considers important: protecting human rights, strengthening democracy, freedom of the press," he said. According to the Foreign Minister, examples from all over the world show that it is possible for countries to support their export firms while also adhering to their own particular standpoints when it comes to values.
"Germany, the Netherlands - these are very open economies that are also export-oriented, and human rights also belong among their top priorities," the minister said. Another example, according to him, is that of the Scandinavian states.
Petříček does not believe he will risk clashing with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babišem (ANO) or with Czech President Zeman, neither of whom raise the question of human rights in their diplomacy as much as he does. "In my opinion, a self-confident foreign policy is about negotiating with our partners very openly and also seeking opportunities, on the basis of mutual respect, so that our interests can intersect, for example, in the economic situation as well," the minister said.
He wants to continue the existing programs the Czech Foreign Ministry has for activities in support of human rights, through which the country focuses especially on Burma, countries in the Caucasus, Cuba and Eastern Europe. "Nevertheless, for me this will also be a question of the opportunity to improve the state of human rights in some African countries, because I perceive that as an opportunity for our engagement on the continent to be reborn," he said.
The minister sees an association between human rights violations in some African countries and migration from Africa to Europe that involves illegal activity. "I see this as a comprehensive approach to Africa where, in addition to our development cooperation, we must also follow the situation in the area of human rights, of civil society, to support democracy and the rule of law," he said.
"Those are the steps that are able to contribute to these countries stabilizing and conflicts being prevented," he said. Fewer people, according to the minister, will want to flee their countries if human rights protections improve in them.
The Czech Republic will also be advocating for human rights during its three-year membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council, to which it was elected for 2019-2021. According to Petříček, Prague is currently not seeking to chair the council, but wants to especially express its views there on situations in countries where the upholding of human rights is problematic, such as China, Venezuela or Yemen.
The minister said he does not believe that the withdrawal of the USA from the council this year has damaged its reputation at all. "On the contrary, I believe such institutions are, at this moment, even more important because the international order, based on norms and rules, is currently under a certain amount of pressure," he said.
- Czech Govt report on domestic human rights says debt collections proceedings are the country's biggest problem
- Czech Govt Human Rights Commissioner says she will criticize politicians who are racist and resign rather than be censored
- Czech Government revives position of Human Rights Commissioner
- Czech Justice Minister leaving politics because most of his fellow ANO members hold different opinions about human rights
- Czech Foreign Ministry flies Romani flag, outgoing Foreign Minister and Justice Minister meet with Roma
- Commentary: Czech Foreign Minister is all over the map when it comes to the issue of freedom of movement - why?
- Martin Mata: Save your money, the pandemic will have an overwhelming economic impact
- Czech demonstration for democratic institutions objects to new ombudsman, politicians' efforts to control public broadcasting
- Czech ombudsman to control discrimination agenda, head of the legal section steps down to work for his deputy
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights wants to investigate human rights, new Public Defender is downplaying that aspect of the office
- In twist of fate, new Public Defender of Rights sworn in by chair of ultranationalist party
- Italian court upholds acquittal and exoneration of captain who rescued migrants
- Czech media reports Human Rights Commissioner co-authored communist-era paper alleging Roma are predetermined to commit crimes
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights is now Monika Šimůnková, a former Human Rights Commissioner
- Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes honors Romani activist's work to remove pig farm from Holocaust remembrance site
- Michal Mižigár: What democracy brought us Romani people in the Czech Republic in the 1990s
- Czech ombudswoman: Haters online frequently refuse to admit to themselves that they could be breaking the law
- Academic Huub van Baar has found Romani people succeed on the labor market when given a chance