The Czech Republic will open a new embassy in Bamako, Mali’s capital city, on January 1st, 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on its website. Its main mission, according to the statement, will be to strengthen security cooperation, increase Czech involvement in the military and civilian operations for the stabilization of the Sahel region and support bilateral economic cooperation.
The Czech Foreign Ministry pointed out that “the Sahel region is an origin and transit area of migration to Europe” and “is facing problems of terrorist group activities, arms and drugs smuggling as well as human trafficking”. “The geographical proximity of the Sahel region has a significant impact on security and migration situation in Europe”, it reads, a statement in line with the oft-repeated position of the Czech government, which has called to address the refugee crisis by stabilizing the countries of origin and strengthening the EU’s external borders.
The Czech Republic is currently involved in the stabilization of Mali and the broader Sahel region, with several dozens soldiers deployed as part of the EU’s Training Mission of local security forces and the United Nations’ MINUSMA presence.
Mali is also the Czech Republic’s fourth most important business partner in the Sub-Saharan Africa. According to official data, bilateral trade amounted to 20.5 million euros last year.