Prime Minister Peter Fiala’s visit to Nigeria has been cancelled. According to Czech government spokesman Václav Smolka, Abuja announced on Monday that it was unable to provide an adequate reception and program, including a business forum. According to diplomatic sources, the Nigerian move may be related to Czech support for Israel in the UN. Jerusalem has faced growing criticism, especially from Muslim countries, over airstrikes in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which it launched after a bloody attack by the Hamas movement on southern Israel.
“Nigeria has informed us that it is unable to provide an adequate reception and program, including a business forum, so we have agreed to cancel the visit,” Smolka told Czech journalists.
He further specified that the announcement from the Nigerian side came on Monday evening. Fiala, who has been on a week-long visit to sub-Saharan Africa since Friday evening, will probably stay in Kenya longer than originally planned. He then plans to visit Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
The Czech Republic, along with the United States and Israel, was one of the 14 countries that on October 27 voted against the UN General Assembly resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
The states that voted in this way were particularly bothered by the fact that the text does not contain a direct condemnation of Hamas for the massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7. 121 countries, including Nigeria, voted to adopt the resolution, which is the first joint UN response to Israel’s new war with the Hamas movement.
Nigerian Foreign Minister Yusuf Tuggar reiterated the Nigerian government’s support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue last week during a meeting with the Palestinian ambassador to Nigeria, Abdullah Shavesh. At the same time, he condemned the killing of civilians and called on both sides of the conflict to stop fighting, local media reported.
“It doesn’t matter who does the violence. Nigeria is against violence and regarding the current situation in Gaza, Nigeria has voted to stop the fighting. This is our position and it will remain so,” said the minister.
Fiala arrived in Kenya on Sunday from Addis Ababa, where he held talks with top officials and opened the Czech-Ethiopian business forum. On Monday, the Prime Minister launched a business forum in Nairobi and visited a local museum. He is scheduled to meet with Kenyan President William Ruto on Tuesday, followed by a press conference. Subsequently, Fiala should also negotiate with the Kenyan Minister of Defense, Aden Dual. The next program in Kenya due to the canceled afternoon flight to Nigeria is unclear at this time.
In the past, it happened several times that the planned visit of a Czech member of the government or the president abroad had to be cancelled. Health reasons predominate, but the cause was also a worsened security situation, a natural disaster, new urgent matters in the Czech Republic or in the host country, but also the deterioration of mutual relations.
This happened, for example, in 2016, when China canceled the planned trip of Minister of Agriculture Marian Jurečka. Beijing did not disclose the reasons, and the media speculated that the cause was a meeting between then Minister of Culture Daniel Herman and the Tibetan Dalai Lama in Prague.
In October 2003, the Palestinian political crisis thwarted the trip of Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda to the Arab states. The minister was to visit Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. Svoboda finally visited Palestine and Egypt in January 2004.