Prague, June 21 (CTK) – The Czech Republic will spend slightly over one billion crowns on development aid in 2018, which is 100 million crowns more that in 2017, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said after the cabinet meeting that approved the plan today.

Within the planned bilateral development cooperation, Prague will focus on projects in six priority countries where it helps boost democratic administration, the use and protection of natural resources and the development of agriculture and countryside.

The plan for 2018 ensues from the proposal to gradually increase the Czech development cooperation spending that the cabinet approved last July, earmarking 954 million crowns for 2017.

“I am glad that we have smoothly approved the overall sum [for 2018], which is 1.050 billion crowns. The crucial thing is [the new Finance Minister Ivan Pilny’s] agreement with the new policy of the development and humanitarian aid,” Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said.

Pilny, a lawmaker for the ANO movement, replaced ANO chairman Andrej Babis in the ministerial post last month.

Zaoralek said the development aid should be considered an investment aimed to curb the migrant pressure on Europe.

“It is much more advantageous to try to stabilise some countries than eventually to tackle the problems of forced resettlement or migration,” he said.

More than a half of the sum to be spent in 2018 will go to the Czech Development Agency, which prepares bilateral projects and assists in their implementation.

The development aid budget also includes 115 million crowns earmarked for the programme of government stipends.

A total of 180 million is designated for Czech humanitarian aid abroad.

The Czech Republic also combines development cooperation with economic diplomacy. The Czech Development Agency, for example, supports projects connecting Czech firms and their partners in the respective foreign regions.

($1=23.568 crowns)