Czech president's Paris visit reinforces ties with key ally

During his meeting with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Pavel honored the late Václav Havel while also discussing support for Ukraine. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 21.12.2023 10:06:00 (updated on 21.12.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

A ceremony honoring late Czech President Václav Havel and high-level meetings between Czech President Petr Pavel and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron reinforced the strong alliance between both countries during Pavel's visit to France this week. Pavel arrived in Paris on Wednesday morning for the two-day diplomatic trip.

Uniting for Ukraine

Pavel held private talks with Macron at the Élysée Palace in the French capital. "We shared the view that we must continue to support Ukraine because we see no other alternative," Pavel told reporters, citing their agreement on the need for robust European backing against Russian aggression in Ukraine. However, the presidents did not discuss specific assistance, said Pavel.

Pavel, a retired general and former NATO military chief, said Europe lacks "crucial capabilities" like intelligence and strategic logistics to defend its interests and deter aggressors. "Europe has resigned itself from developing them in recent decades," Pavel noted.

Talking energy

The two presidents also tackled cooperation in energy, the EU's expansion, migration, the situation in the Middle East, and the Sahel region in Africa. Pavel praised the "openness" of talks which demonstrated that Czech-French relations are at a "high level."

France is a key investor and strategic partner for the Czech Republic, including French energy giant EDF's bid to help build a new nuclear unit in Dukovany, said Pavel.

On Thursday, Pavel will meet with French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and National Assembly Speaker Yael Braun-Pivet to advance Czech-French cooperation on issues of security, energy independence, and more, according to his remarks.

Diplomatic 'benchmarking' in Paris

At an event in front of the Czech Embassy, Pavel joined Havel's widow Dagmar Havlová in unveiling the 51st "Václav Havel bench" worldwide paying tribute to the playwright and human rights campaigner's legacy. "Contemplate, discuss, have a good mood and good conversation," Havlová said of the bench overlooking the Eiffel Tower, according to organizers.

Pavel also spoke about the symbol stimulating thought and reflection. "Without understanding, without mutual dialogue, no society can function. Neither the Czech one, nor the French one," the president said.

A close Czech-French relationship

Relative to other world leaders, Czechs view Macron in good stead. A poll released earlier this week by the Czech Center for Public Opinion Research found that the French president was the second-most-trusted foreign leader in the Czech public's eyes out of all surveyed high-level politicians.

Pavel's relationship with France holds personal significance too. In 1993, he rescued French troops in Bosnia and received France's highest military honor, underscoring the longtime bonds between the allied nations.

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