Czech, Hungarian Prime Ministers Visit Israel Thursday

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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Israeli FM Gabi Ashkenazi (center-left) and Czech PM Andrej Babis open a Jerusalem diplomatic office, today.
Israeli FM Gabi Ashkenazi (center-left) and Czech PM Andrej Babis open a Jerusalem diplomatic office, today.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš formally opened a diplomatic office on Thursday to represent his country in Jerusalem.

The bureau, which is on Washington Street in the city’s center, will be an annex of the Czech Republic’s embassy in Tel Aviv.

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The Czech Republic joins a number of countries establishing diplomatic offices in Jerusalem in recent years. The United States and Guatemala are still the only countries to have embassies in the city.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Babiš said his government’s decision to open an office in Jerusalem represented “another milestone in our cooperation and gives evidence that we see the importance of this great city.”

“I am absolutely sure that it will further contribute to deepening and strengthening the ties between our peoples and become another proof of our true and devoted friendship – a friendship between the Czech Republic and the state of Israel,” he added.

Czech PM Andrej Babiš at the opening of his country's Jerusalem office, today.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Foreign Minister Gaby Ashkenazi thanked the Czech prime minister “for leading the change in Europe toward the city of Jerusalem and the connection with the state of Israel.”

The Czech Republic is one of the countries that received thousands of vaccines last month, after having said in December it would open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem. Two years ago, it opened a cultural center called “The Czech House” in Jerusalem.

Babis arrived in Israel on Thursday with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who also established a trade bureau in Jerusalem two years ago.

They will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening, during which they plan to discuss the possibilities for cooperation in research and development of vaccines and confronting the coronavirus pandemic. Both Babis and Orban lead right-wing, nationalist-oriented governments.

The visits by the Hungarian and Czech leaders closely follow visits last week by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. In their talks with Netanyahu the sides agreed to establish a joint center for research and production of vaccines.

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