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Zaorálek: Czechs may participate in Syria, Iraq’s reconstruction

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Prague, March 14 (CTK) – The Czech Republic has a chance of participating in the reconstruction of Iraq and Syria thanks to its operation in the two countries as yet, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said on Tuesday when assessing Czech foreign trade last year.

He said he believes that the war with Islamic State will soon end in Iraq and that the reconstruction of the destroyed country will start.

He was more cautious when assessing the future developments in Syria, but said a positive scenario cannot be ruled out.

Zaoralek said the reconstruction of Iraq will be debated at a conference of the global coalition fighting IS in Washington next week.

“We will learn the United States’s strategy in the reconstruction of the country rather than in the struggle with Islamic State,” Zaoralek said.

He said the Czech government has agreed that Zaoralek will promise aid to Iraq worth one million dollars.

The reconstruction of Syria, where a conflict has continued for six years, will cost an estimated 120 billion dollars.

Zaoralek said the Czech Republic has a good reputation in both countries thanks to the aid it has provided as yet. This could help Czech firms and organisations willing to take part in the post-war reconstruction.

He said the Czech Republic has a good cooperation with Iraq in the military sphere. Czech L-159 combat planes participate in the colours of the Iraq military in fighting Islamic State.

A field surgical team and a team of aviation instructors which helps train Iraqi pilots has been active in Iraq.

“The success of our planes cannot be overlooked, it is a very visible and most praised thing,” Zaoralek said.

In Syria, the Czech Republic keeps its influence thanks to its being the only EU country still operating its embassy there. In addition, Syria has been one of the biggest recipients of Czech humanitarian aid.

Last year, the government approved an exceptional subsidy to projects in Syria in 2017-19. A total of 195 million crowns are destined for the reconstruction of health, education and social facilities and other infrastructure necessary for economic and social development.

A part of the money is destined for a long-term support for education, civic society, local communities and their self-rule authorities.

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