Archive for January 14th, 2012

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Correcting the record – Czech Republic gives everyone a good telling off!

January 14, 2012

It is not very often that you see an Embassy going on the record to correct media reports and assertions from others who should know better, but the recent granting of asylum to Ms Tymoshenko’s husband in the Czech Republic has brought not only a formal response on the Embassy website, but a press conference to underline a point.

In a nutshell the Czech Republic did not grant Ms Tymoshenko’s husband political asylum.  His asylum was granted in accordance with the Convention of the Status of Refugees 1951 and law 325/1999 on asylum.  The Czech Republic does not grant “political” asylum now or ever.

The website entry goes on to chastise very strongly the media, experts, commentators and those involved who have used the expression “political asylum” in relation to Mr Tymoshenko and the Czech Republic.

It now seems like a wise decision by me not to write much about the incident at the time here, mentioning it only in passing as historical material in recent posts.

The Czech Republic are obviously very, very annoyed to go to such lengths.

That said, the Czech Republic has a very strong tradition of accepting those who seek asylum.  A record that was cemented into the national identity by the late Mr Havel.

As the Embassy statement goes on to say, many people claim asylum in the Czech Republic and the grounds upon which they do so are varied.  The Czech Republic either grants asylum or it does not.  It does not have different categories of asylum.  Any media, expert, commentator or involved parties who make such claims or give incorrect titles, such as “political asylum” are very naughty indeed.

So, having now chastised almost the entire global press corps and certainly all the Ukrainian press, members of the Tymoshenko family,  numerous politicians in Ukraine as well as a few international ones, you have to hope the Czech Republic are now content to have formally corrected the record despite the correction receiving nothing like the same media coverage as the granting of asylum.

Still, when the cold eye of historians look back on the incident 10 years from now, all poor reporting and quotations will have been seen to be formally admonished and  corrected.  We will see if the lesson has been learned the next time it happens.

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