Cooperation in the Middle East was discussed during the meeting between the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Grand Chancellor
An agreement to provide medical aid to the Palestinian population was signed
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Lubomir Zaoralek, received today in the Czernin Palace, seat of the Foreign Ministry in Prague, the Grand Chancellor of the Sovereign Order of Malta Albrecht Boeselager, accompanied by the Grand Hospitaller, Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel. During the meeting the current tragic humanitarian emergencies taking place were discussed, in particular those in the Middle East. The Minister and the Grand Chancellor expressed deep concern regarding the ongoing war in Syria and Iraq with its catastrophic effects on the surrounding countries, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Discussing the role of the Order of Malta in delivering aid and in promoting human rights, the Grand Chancellor stated his preoccupation for the persecution of religious minorities such as Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims.
The Sovereign Order of Malta is actively present in the region with emergency teams on the ground securing every day medical assistance to the many refugees, both in Syria and Northern Iraq – through the network of local partners of its international relief agency – and in Lebanon and Turkey.
In the Middle East, the Order of Malta is also engaged in bringing medical assistance to the Palestinian population. In this context during the meeting a Memorandum of Understanding consisting in the deployment of a portable ultrasound machine and other medical equipment to Marda Village – in the Salfit Governorate -was signed by the Director of the Development Agency of the Czech Republic,Michal Kaplan, and the Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta to the Czech Republic, Mario Quagliotti. Minister Lubomir Zaoralek and the Grand Chancellor also commented on the implementation of a second agreement which will soon be formalised consisting in a neonatal cardiology unit destined for the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem of the Order of Malta where, since 1990, over 60,000 babies have been born.
The development of other possible future long term activities in Palestine, such as microcredit projects to augment the local economy, were also discussed. An example of this has already been implemented by the Sovereign Order of Malta Representative Office in Ramallah, in Marda Village, where thanks to a loan programme jobs have been created and income has been enhanced.
The Grand Chancellor thanked the Czech Republic for the support of other projects launched by the Order of Malta in Haiti after the deadly earthquake in 2010. Technical cooperation and financial support were supplied to the Order of Malta for health training, disaster preparedness and reconstruction projects in the Caribbean country.
The Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager was also received by the Minister of Culture, Daniel Herman. The commitment of the Order of Malta in fighting Ebola in Western Africa through prevention campaigns and delivery of medical items was discussed. The fruitful collaboration of the Order of Malta with other religious confessions in the Middle East was also addressed.
The Order of Malta has been active in the Czech Republic with the Grand Priory of Bohemia since the 12th century, carrying out health and welfare work which were resumed nationwide in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Czechoslovakia then re-established diplomatic relations with the Order, later confirmed in 1993 after the separation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Currently the Order of Malta provides transport to school for children with disabilities in rural areas of Southern Bohemia and supports the regional emergency services, caring in particular for the lonely, the homeless, the sick and the disabled.