Welcome to Talkback, a forum to voice your opinion on today’s Czech news.
This week’s topic: What conditions should be set to enable a ceasefire?
The Czech Republic as the new EU leader has a difficult task: trying to calm down the situation in the Middle East, which last week escalated after Israel began a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip in an effort to force Hamas to stop attacking Israeli territory.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who is currently negotiating in the region, said it would be very difficult for the EU mission to achieve success.
It will be an especially difficult because there is no common EU position on the Israeli attacks.
The Czechs have shown more sympathy for the Israeli side in the EU mission. The Swedish foreign minister criticised Israel for dramatically escalating the conflict. Schwarzenberg said last week that Israel has the right to take military action against attacks on locations where its civilians live. He said yesterday in a live television debate that Hamas, which he called a “terrorist organisation” is to be blamed for the conflict, while Israeli reaction is less clear cut.
The Czech EU presidency spokesman said Saturday that Israel’s land assault was “more defensive than offensive”. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg later said it was a misunderstanding, adding the only valid EU presidency position is to call for a ceasefire and facilitation of humanitarian aid.
The Czechs have sided with Israel for a long time and now they have to be neutral for the six months of their presidency.
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In reaction to last week’s Talkback (Which event of the year 2008 do you think typifies Czech society?), Monitor reader Mehmet Kuscuoglu expressed dissatisfaction about the statement made last week by the Czech EU presidency spokesman, who called Israel’s land assault defensive rather than an offensive action.
“I remember the day when Russian tanks were entering Prague. I was very young, living in Istanbul Turkey. All Turks were praying for Czech people and their hero leader Dubček. Now many years later, another Czech calls Israel’s invastion in Gaza a defensive action. Is this Dubček’s Czech Republic?” Mehmet writes.