Comments by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic on Amnesty International Report
21.10.2011 / 16:30
The Czech Republic approaches the subject area with entire seriousness. Building a transparent, credible and generally respected system of regulations of trade in so-called sensitive goods, including the reconciliation of diverse interests, necessarily arising in this area, is a long-term goal of the Czech Republic. In recent years, the government of the Czech Republic has been fulfilling its commitment to increase the transparency of its policies. One of the results are regularly published figures, which were used in the AI report.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assesses applications for export licenses of military and non-military material against various criteria. One of them is the respect for human rights, where it is also assessed if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression.
The Ministry emphasizes, that the interpretation of the numerical data presented in the AI report is not accurate. These data alone can not be a guide to interpretation of the official Czech policies on military and non-military material exports. Representatives of the Ministry have been highlighting this fact repeatedly at meetings with representatives of NGOs. Such a meeting also took place in connection with the preparation of the latest AI report.
Concerning individual countries referred in the AI report during the monitored period, the Ministry has the following comments:
The Ministry maintained its restrictive policy towards M. Gaddafi regime even after the lifting of the arms embargo by the Security Council in 2003. This is supported also by the statistics used in the AI report. In the period concerned, the Czech Republic exported goods worth about 3 million EUR, which is a fraction of total exports to the country. The Czech Republic has in all cases supplied only components and spare parts, not firearms, ammunition or complete weapons' systems.
The Czech Republic traditionally belongs among significant suppliers of military equipment to Egypt. Overwhelming majority of supplies were spare parts and components for the maintenance of military equipment of the Egyptian army. Such equipment was not used to suppress demonstrations during the so-called Arab spring and the Egyptian army played a crucial stabilisation role. Exports from the Czech Republic to Egypt worth about 20 million EUR formed a small part of total exports to the country.
In the period concerned, the Czech Republic exported mainly components and spare parts for previously delivered equipment, in accordance with long-term contracts. The Ministry examined every request for an export license on a case by case basis, particularly in light of the situation in the province of Saada in the north of the country at one side, and the need of the central government to posses means for combating the growing danger from radical Islamist groups led by the AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Thus, this context must be taken into consideration when interpreting the AI report's lines about the export of large-calibre arms and ammunition as well as the total volume of exports of about 20 million EUR, which formed a small part of total exports to the country. In many cases, the export license was not granted. Before the escalation of violence in March 2011, situation in Yemen was never moving towards open repression of the government of President Saleh against the Yemeni population. When the first signs of the open repression emerged, the Ministry immediately suspended all valid licenses.