Yemen and Czech RepublicDecades of distinctive relations [Archives:2007/1106/Reportage]

November 26 2007

Mohammed bin Sallam
Relations between Yemen and the Czech Republic constitute one of the distinctive types of international cooperation and interaction that consolidates the bond between Yemen and other world nations.

The relationship between Yemen and Czech Republic is neither a new nor a growing one constituted by foreign interests and policies; rather, both states enjoy a historical relationship dating back to the early years of the mid-20th century.

Over the years, their relationship became deeply-rooted based on mutual visions and beliefs, which nations depend on to enhance their cooperation and unify their views on various regional and international events during a specific time period.

During the most recent visit to Yemen by a delegation from the Czech Senate, headed by Karel Bartak, chairman of the Committee on Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights and Petitions, the chief delegate expressed his happiness at touring the distinctive Arab nation.

In an interview with the Yemen Times last Tuesday at a reception the Czech Embassy in Sana'a organized to honor the visiting delegation, Bartak stated, “This visit is part of my state's efforts to have more open relations with Yemen, which the Czech government has placed among the top eight states to be given priority in its foreign relations.”

He further indicated his hope that Yemen's Shoura Council and the Czech Senate will improve their roles in both countries in such a way that contributes to developing mutual cooperation and strengthening Yemeni-Czech relations, which he described as “ancient.”

During the interview, the Czech official spoke about the availability of excellent opportunities to develop such cooperation, particularly in cultural areas, affirming that the coming years will witness more technical cooperation between the two nations.

“I decided last year to visit Yemen after the Czech government approved its foreign aid program, including Yemen among the top eight nations in the Third World to be given priority under the program. Yemen was the only Arab state within that group,” Bartak noted.

“I'd like to recognize that during the past decade, Yemen has taken the first steps on the course toward building a democracy. Such steps resemble what happened in our country, as we hadn't made any appropriate steps toward democracy until the National Revolution broke out in 1989 and the Communist totalitarian regime ended.”

He continued, “Another reason for my visit is the nature of this committee's activities concerning culture, science and human rights. Certainly, I know that Yemen is a historic country, rich in civilization and heritage. As a state within central Europe, Czech Republic views Yemen as a nation with an ancient civilization deserving respect, appreciation and attention.

The official added, “Being affiliated with the Czech Senate, our committee isn't concerned with primary and vocational education exclusively; rather, it works in all areas of education, including universities. We're seeking the possibility of cooperating within the various university majors because many Yemeni graduates have studied at Czech universities.

“We're proud to see and hear that these graduates now are serving their society and occupying prestigious places in their homeland. Such graduates prove that Czech Republic offers good, quality education.”

Bartak went on to recount, “Before I became a senator, I taught at the Charles University Faculty of Medicine in the city of Hradec Kralove. During this visit to Yemen, I took the opportunity to meet some graduates, thanks to efforts by the charge d'affaires at the Czech Embassy in Sana'a, who arranged a meeting attended by some 15 students who had graduated from different Czech universities. Luckily, three of the attendees were students I had taught and they were good.

“Speaking with such graduates, I learned that Yemeni health authorities highly appreciate and respect them, giving them posts matching their scientific qualifications. They are extremely happy to serve their homeland, which hasn't been stingy toward them,” he noted.

Additionally, the Czech official remarked, “I was very glad to visit those agencies concerned with protecting Yemen's historic heritage. I found that such agencies' officials are exerting great efforts in this respect.”

According to Bartak, “I once met with the undersecretary at Yemen's Human Rights Ministry. Through that meeting, I learned that the legislation package concerning human rights in Yemen, whether already approved by Parliament or underway for approval, is relatively similar to my country's effective human rights laws. This is an appropriate step. It's very important to put any human rights-related laws and regulations into practice.”

Asked about any fruitful results from his visit, Bartak noted that the visit wasn't conducted by an executive body within the Czech government but rather by a legislative authority. “We briefed our friends in Yemeni government agencies about the ideal methods of formulating proposals, telling them that there are many proposals, agreements and protocols to be submitted to the Czech government via diplomatic channels,” he explained.

The Czech visitor indicated that he met with numerous senior Yemeni officials, including Deputy Parliament Speaker Abdulwahab Mahmoud, Shoura Council Chairman Abdulaziz Abdulghani, Ministry of Culture Undersecretary Ahmad Salem Al-Qadhi, Aden Governor Abdulkarim Shayef, Mohammed Al-Tayyeb, head of the Shoura Council's Human Rights Committee and Dr. Mohammed Abu Ghanem, who is concerned with education affairs, in addition to numerous NGO leaders.

The delegation also toured the Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training, as well as several primary and secondary schools in Sana'a.

Concluding the interview, Bartak said, “I want to affirm that we met many Yemeni youths and staff who deserve our highest consideration. I'd also like to take this opportunity to express my wishes for further development and prosperity for all Yemenis.”