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Minister Petříček opened the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Prague
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Minister Petříček opened the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Prague

 

On July 2nd 2019 Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Tomáš Petříček opened the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Prague. The Meeting adopts measures and recommendations in various areas concerning Antarctica, such as scientific cooperation, air security, environmental protection or exercise of jurisdiction. The Czech Republic hosts the Consultative Meeting for the first time. The Meeting is presided by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Martin Smolek.

“The management of Antarctica and particularly the protection of its fragile ecosystem is only possible in cooperation with other States. Antarctica is thus a prime example that States are able to settle their disputes peacefully and that international law truly works,” Minister Petříček said.

“Nowadays, protecting the Antarctic ecosystems is perhaps more critical than ever because we are living in an age of global environmental change. The value of Antarctica as a priceless stabiliser of Earth’s climate and an area for scientific research was and continues to be unique, especially for research that improves our understanding of the global environment. Therefore, it is crucial to continue in building international cooperation to regulate the activities in Antarctica to minimize impacts on the environment, while giving the priority to scientific research,” Deputy Minister of the Environment Vladislav Smrž added.

Antarctica does not belong to any State – an international regime established by the Antarctic Treaty (1959) applies here. The Consultative Meeting adopts measures and recommendations concerning various areas of interests in the Antarctic – from science and tourism to the environment and bioprospecting. The Czech Republic became a Consultative Party on April 1st 2014 and is therefore entitled to participate in the decision-making process about the future of Antarctica. Only 28 other States have this higher institutional status of a Consultative Party. There are 54 State Parties to the Antarctic Treaty altogether. The last State to become a State Party to the Treaty was Slovenia in April 2019.

The Czech Republic organizes the Consultative Meeting for the first time in history. Apart from that, this year also marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. On this special occasion the Czech Republic negotiated a text of the Prague Declaration, which should be adopted at the end of this meeting. The Declaration reiterates principles of the Treaty and reaffirms the obligation to adhere to them.

In January 2019 it was 90 years since the first Czech entered Antarctica. It was Mr Václav Vojtěch who was a member of Richard Evelyn Byrd’s expedition. Mr Vojtěch was later awarded a Golden Medal of the U.S. Congress for that.

“Activities of the Czech citizens in Antarctica have a long-lasting tradition. Czech scientists enjoy international recognition. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports activities of Czech scientists in Antarctica from the foreign-policy’s point of view and will continue in this support,” Minister Petříček added.

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Minister Petříček opened the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Prague

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