Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Czech diplomats continue working in Syria despite hostilities

ČTK |
29 August 2012

Prague, Aug 28 (CTK) - The life of Czech diplomats in Damascus is very limited due to the civil war, but the preservation of the work of the Czech embassy still makes sense, ambassador Eva Filipi told CTK Tuesday.

Every movement outside the embassy must be reported and there is no social life in evenings, Filipi said.

The Czech Republic's mission is one of the ten EU embassies that have remained open despite the civil strife in Syria.

Another ten EU members as well as the USA and other countries have closed their diplomatic offices for safety reasons.

The Czech embassy, now having three staffers, provides consular services also to Slovakia and the USA.

Czech diplomats deal with arrests and kidnapping of people, issue travelling documents and provide other consular services.

Now the Czech Foreign Ministry will send another person to Damascus that will work directly in the U.S. embassy compound and provide consular services, Filipi said.

Czechs will also be in charge of watching the U.S. embassy staffers who have stayed in Syria, she added.

Filipi said although fighting was going on in Damascus, too, in the case of the Czech diplomatic office and the surrounding area there was no particular danger.

However, there was an explosion some 500 metres from it recently, she added.

If moving around the town, one has to be cautious, Filipi said.

"The rebels have a single method: hit and run. They drive in a car to a place and cause panic. They jump out, start fighting and get in the car again," she added.

"The second danger is that there are elements of terrorist organisations. In the case of explosion, there is the threat of being in the wrong place in the wrong time," said Filipi who herself had seen shooting.

"I told the driver to drive faster and we drove on. One has to keep calm because diplomats are not targeted," she added.

Diplomats' every-day life has some constraints, Filipi said.

"This means that there are no social functions in the evenings and we mostly spend them at home," Filipi said.

"During the day, if there is a need to go somewhere, the service must be told beforehand. This must be reported even at the weekend," she added.

She said the situation in Syria in which troops loyal to President Bashar Assad's regime fight against rebel units was worsening.

Any solution in the form of an end of the hostilities is not in sight, Filipi said.

"There is the stage of a genuine war," she added.

The conflict is not only a matter of Syrians but it also has regional and international dimensions, Filipi said.

The knot is too complicated, said Filipi who has arrived in Prague for a meeting of ambassadors.

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