Prague, July 25 (CTK) – The Foreign Ministry plans to open a Czech diplomatic office in Mali next year to support its development and humanitarian aid and economic cooperation in the Sahel region, according to a report available to CTK that the ministry plans to submit to the government.
The Czech Republic is considering opening a new embassy in Sahel, the north African region south of the Sahara which comprises Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, for some time.
At present, the country has only honorary consular offices in the region.
The ministry said Mali is a suitable country for a new diplomatic office also because Czech soldiers are deployed in the European Union and United Nations training and peacekeeping missions in Mali, the EUTM and MINUSMA.
The new office would comprise two diplomats, an administrative and a technical post and two posts for local people. At first, it would be headed by a diplomat at the level of a charge d’affaires. The annual running costs of the office are estimated at 27.5 million crowns.
The ministry writes that the humanitarian and development aid projects should prevent illegal migration. Last year, nearly 8,000 illegal migrants came to Europe from Mali. Further over 2,000 migrants arrived from the four other Sahel countries in 2017, according to estimates.
The ministry says Sahel has an economic potential for Czech firms, mentioning a sparse electrical grid, construction of hydroelectric power plants, mining of minerals and arms exports.
In May 2017, a Czech embassy opened in Zambia, which also deals with affairs concerning the neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi.
The Czech Republic had an embassy in Zimbabwe, but it was closed within austerity measures. The embassies in the Congo and Kenya were closed in 2011 and in Angola in 2010, for the same reason.