Friday, December 14, 2012

Czech ambassador: 'Israel and 1938 Czechoslovakia are similar'

(JPost) Czech Ambassador Tomas Pojar was in the hall attending The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in Herzliya on Wednesday when Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman made an example of his country, saying Israel was not about to become “the second Czechoslovakia.”

“All expressions and promises of commitment to Israel’s security from all around the world remind me of similar commitments made to Czechoslovakia [in 1938], and the pressure made on the Czech president to partition the Sudetenland,” Liberman said. “After all the promises and guarantees that were provided, Nazi Germany occupied all of Czechoslovakia, bringing an end to its existence.”

Pojar, in an interview afterward with The Jerusalem Post, replied with a “yes and no” when asked whether there was validity in that historical comparison.

No, he said, because the situation in 1938 in Central Europe, and in the world, was drastically different than the situation today. “The parallels are interesting, but it is not as if you can easily implement the lessons from one situation onto another, a century or half-century later.”

But still, he said, there are similarities.

“There are certain parallels in that Czechoslovakia was the only democratic country in the entire region at the time,” he said. “There are parallels about how much guarantees you can get from outside, and how much you should rely on them.”

Pojar said that in addition to his country’s tragic experiences during World War II, it also had experiences under communism.

All this had embedded in the Czechs’ “natural skepticism,” and a disinclination to believe in immediate “grandiose ideas and miraculous solutions.”

“We are the most atheistic, non-religious nation in Europe, if not in the entire world,” he asserted. “We don’t believe in miracles, and we don’t believe in political miracles and the solutions of ideologies that [posit that] something can be easily implemented and solved.”

Pojar said the Czechs realize “there are huge differences between war and peace. It is not only either war or peace... Even some interim solutions are sometimes better than crumbled expectations because of grandiose ideas.”

The ambassador said one of the lessons the Czech Republic learned from its past is that “we strongly believe that solutions cannot be imposed from the outside, because they do not work.”

That firm belief is one of the reasons why the Czech Republic, alone among the 27 EU countries, voted with Israel and seven other countries at the UN on November 29 against upgrading the Palestinian status at the UN to that of nonmember state observer.