Friday, 20 April 2018

Czech political scene divided over Syrian air strike

ČTK |
16 April 2018

Prague, April 14 (CTK) - The night-time air strike of the USA, Britain and France in Syria over the recent chemical attack there was supported by the Czech defence and foreign ministers, but denounced by Communists, the anti-EU SPD and President Milos Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek on Saturday.

The Allies say the chemical attack, which claimed tens of victims, was carriedout by President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which has denied it.

The Czech Foreign Ministry said this was a clear message for anyone wanting to continue with the chemical attacks in Syria.

However, a political solution to the conflict should be sought, the ministry said.

"Along with the EU and other allies, we are calling on all actors of the conflict to contribute to the moderation and to resume the peace talks to find a political solution," the Foreign Ministry said in its press release.

"The USA, Britain and France have made it quite clear that one cannot tolerate the use of chemical arms," Czech Defence Minister Karla Slechtova (ANO) said.

"The impact of the attack on civilians was minimised," she added.

"The Allied missile attacks are a strong warning signal that the use of chemical arms, let along against civilians, is unacceptable," Pavel Belobradek, leader of the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), said.

"The use of chemical weapons against one's own population is a horrible crime that must not be tolerated," Petr Fiala, leader of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), said.

"The joint operation of the USA, Britain and France in Syria is the right reaction," Fiala said.

"The responsibility for the current state in Syria is borne by Assad and his allies, Russia and Iran," TOP 09 leader Jiri Pospisil has tweeted.

The Pirates have condemned the use of chemical weapons. They support the creation of an international commission to investigate the events in the town Duma.

The night-time air strike was behind an effort to punish the Syrian regime for the chemical attack, the Pirates said.

However, the punishment is premature if it is not clearly confirmed that it was a chemical attack, party leader Ivan Bartos said.

"I do not consider the intervention anything that might help resolve the situation or force anyone to observe human rights and fulfil international agreements," Bartos said.

"The people in Syria will not be alleviated by any military operation, but by a political solution," he added.

Social Democrat leader Jan Hamacek said the chemical attack should be condemned.

"However, a show of strength without a Security Council mandate should not be the answer," Hamacek said.

Hamacek said he expected Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) to explain the Czech Republic's stance in the Chamber of Deputies.

The air strike was denounced by Communist leader Vojtech Filip.

"Military attacks have never contributed to any solution. If anything, they escalate the tension. This is why this attack can have a disastrous impact," Filip said.

"A military solution is always the last resort," Ovcacek said, attacking journalists and Zeman's critics for supporting war.

Tomio Okamura, leader of the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), said the attack amounted to support for Islamists in Syria.

"The USA and its allies are unable to come to terms with the victory of Syrians and Russians over Islamists, which has caused an increased influence of Russia in the region," Okamura has told CTK.

SPD deputy Lubomir Volny said the air strike was a terrorist attack by NATO countries.

"The Allied attack on the chemical targets in Syria was backed by NATO, which includes the Czech Republic. Hence my expectations that the Presidential Office will back it, too," Czech MEP Pavel Telicka has tweeted.

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