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HN: Czech development cooperation should rise amid refugee wave

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Prague, Sept 24 (CTK) – Czech politicians tend to advise others how to stem the migration wave, but they do very little for Prague to join these efforts, Jan Kubita writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) Thursday, commenting on the Czech foreign development cooperation outlook for 2016.

The Biblical sentence “You’ll recognise them by their deeds” also applies to politics, especially in situations like the present migration crisis. Unfortunately, the Czech Republic has failed to act accordingly, Kubita writes.

When opening Czech Foreign Development Day in Prague, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) recently said it is up to the Czech Republic to seek ways to change the situation in the countries that need help and that foreign development cooperation is one of the ways to prevent problems from emerging, Kubita writes.

For the following three days, the Foreign Ministry’s press department failed to answer HN’s question of how the present refugee crisis has influenced the sum that Prague earmarks for foreign development aid. Finally, the ministry released the required information, which is embarrassing, Kubita writes.

Five years ago, Prague spent 832 million crowns on foreign development aid. In 2011-2013, it spent 807 million on this purpose annually.

In the 2014 and 2015 state budgets, the sum rose to 827 million and 855 million crowns, respectively.

Although the refugee crisis broke out earlier this year, the sum the draft 2016 budget earmarks for foreign development has declined from the preceding year to 854 million crowns, Kubita writes.

Everyone, except for Zaoralek, probably feel that there is something wrong about the decline, he says.

Even worse than the one-million-crown decrease is the fact that the Czech Republic’s financial contribution to foreign development aid should have been almost three times higher in the past 13 years, Kubita writes.

In 2002, the Czech Republic, together with the rest of the EU, promised in Barcelona to spend 0.33 percent of GDP on helping the developing countries. It has been spending a mere 0.11 percent so far, however, Kubita writes.

Czech politicians are brilliant in suggesting various measures to be taken by someone else and mainly elsewhere, Kubita continues.

The deputy prime minister and finance minister, Andrej Babis, whose ANO is the most popular with Czech voters, has proposed that “the U.N. must…”

Zaoralek has proposed that “the EU leaders must…”

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) is a “genuine champion” in this respect. He proposed that the refugee crisis be solved in the areas of its origin, Kubita writes.

“To really stop the migration wave, the most important thing is to terminate the war conflicts in Syria and Libya. I also consider it necessary to improve the life conditions in the countries from which most refugees come,” Kubista quotes Sobotka as saying.

Sobotka’s words sound nice. Nevertheless, the Czech cabinet probably will not go to Syria to distribute food and medicines, Kubita writes.

If the prime minister and some other ministers are as bold as to suggest what others should do, the Czech government should minimally be capable of supporting its strong words with the least possible deed. It should raise the sum designed for Czech foreign development aid in 2016 by several dozens million crowns at least, Kubita writes.

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