Czech diplomacy unequivocally supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and calls for the de-escalation of tensions in the Donbas, stated Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček, who was removed from the office on Monday.
Ukraine accuses Russia of aggression and occupation of Ukrainian territories since the Russian annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of the armed conflict in Donbas in spring 2014, even though Moscow denies direct involvement. The fighting has claimed more than 13,000 lives so far.
In recent days, Kiev raised concerns over the concentration of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine and warned of the risk of “armed aggression” by Russia under the pretext of protecting the Russian-speaking population of Donbas. On the other hand, Russia accuses Kiev of provocations.
“We would like to support negotiations that would fulfill the Minsk agreement, which, unfortunately, has not happened in recent months,” said Petříček.
Since the conclusion of the Minsk peace agreements in February 2015, the intensity of the fighting in Donbas has fallen sharply, but no progress has been made in settling the conflict on a political level.
“After less than a year, when there was relatively calm in eastern Ukraine, there are legitimate concerns about further developments, also concerning the growth of military operations and the presence of Russian forces in Ukraine’s neighborhood,” Petříček added.
Foreign Minister Petříček removed from the office
However, as of Monday, Tomáš Petříček is no longer the minister of foreign affairs. President Miloš Zeman removed him from office at the suggestion of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, temporarily assigning the post to Minister of the Interior and the Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček. As Czech News Agency reported, Petříček learned of his removal on Sunday, when Jan Hamáček, the head of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), which Petříček is a member of, informed him about this.
Zeman has long called for Petříček’s end at the ministry. The former minister took a pro-Western stance and, in many areas, disagreed with Zeman’s views. Recently, the hot topics were the use of Chinese and Russian Covid-19 vaccines not approved in the EU and the potential involvement of a Russian company in building a new unit in the Dukovany nuclear power plant.
Title image: In this picture taken Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, Czech Republic’s Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek talks to the media during a press conference in Prague, Czech Republic. Petricek was fired on Monday April. 12, 2021, in a government re-shuffle less than half a year before the parliamentary election. The move came after Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek failed to beat Interior Minister Jan Hamacek in a vote to become the new leader of the Social Democrats at their party congress last week.(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)