Illustrative photo – Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský's briefing on Russian threats regarding the grounds of the Russian Embassy in Prague, May 18, 2023, Prague.
Riyadh – Saudi Arabia wishes for peace in Ukraine, but maintains a neutral position in connection with the current Russian aggression. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said this after today's meeting with his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhán Saud. He also stated, in Riyadh, he spoke clearly about what “Russian imperialism” means. In addition to the effects of the Russian war in Ukraine, the heads of both diplomacy also discussed regional and global security and bilateral relations. Between the four eyes, they also talked about the position of women in connection with the social reforms that the kingdom is going through.
Lipavský told Czech journalists after the meeting with the Saudi Arabian foreign minister that the meeting was rich. “I mentioned what Russian aggression against Ukraine means, both the migration effects and the global consequences,” noted Lipavský. According to him, Saudi Arabia wants peace to prevail in Ukraine, although it maintains a neutral and aloof attitude towards the war. “I conveyed the message about what Russian imperialism means clearly,” said Lipavský.
When asked by ČTK whether the ministers also talked about reforms and the status of women in Saudi Arabia, the minister replied that this was also the topic of the short meeting between the four eyes. He added that in Saudi Arabia one can see with one's own eyes how society is changing a lot. At the same time, he pointed out that “the task of the Minister of Foreign Affairs is not to go to other countries and there in some way name what he would imagine”. “After all, there are various structured dialogues for this, for example at the level of the UN Human Rights Council,” he added.
Going to work was unimaginable for Saudi women just a few years ago. The kingdom and its crown prince Muhammad bin Salman are pushing for reforms; however, the country is still criticized for not respecting human rights. As part of the reforms, women in Saudi Arabia have been able to drive cars since 2018, and subsequently they were also given the opportunity to enlist in the army. The dress code has also been relaxed and uncovered women are no longer persecuted by the morality police.
Today's meeting of the ministers also concerned energy security, although no concrete commitments were made. Lipavský emphasized the effects of Russian aggression in Ukraine on the energy market. “Saudi Arabia is an important supplier of energy. They are aware of how European consumption is changing and our emphasis on renewable energy sources. They want to play a significant role in this,” noted the Czech minister.