The Future of Antarctica Discussed in Prague. The event is attended by representatives of the countries that co-decide its fate.
From today, for the first time in its history, Prague is hosting the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Its task is to adopt measures and recommendations relating to various areas of interest in Antarctica, such as scientific cooperation, aviation safety, environmental protection and exercising of jurisdiction.
“The administration of Antarctica and in particular the protection of its fragile ecosystem can be carried out successfully only as a joint effort among various countries. Antarctica is a good example demonstrating that countries are able to resolve their disputes by peaceful means and that international law works,” said Tomáš Petříček, Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the opening.
“Protection of Antarctic ecosystems is more important today than ever because we live in a time of global environmental changes. The role of Antarctica as a climate stabilizer of Earth and space for scientific research was and still is irreplaceable. Therefore, thanks to international cooperation, it is necessary to continue regulating local activities in order to prevent environmental impacts,” added Vladislav Smrž, Deputy Minister of the Environment.
Antarctica does not belong to any state and the international system of law established by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 applies there. The Consultative Meeting adopts measures and recommendations on various areas of interest in Antarctica, ranging from science to tourism, and from the environment to bio-prospecting. On April 1, 2014 the Czech Republic was granted consultative status and is therefore entitled to co-decide the future of Antarctica. Only another 28 countries hold this higher institutional position. In total, the Antarctic Treaty has 54 signatories. This April Slovenia became its latest signatory. In addition to the Czech Republic hosting its historically first Consultative Meeting, this year also marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. On this occasion, the Czech Republic negotiated the text of the so-called Prague Declaration, which is to be adopted at the end of this meeting. The content of this Declaration is a reaffirmation of the principles of the Treaty and confirmation of the commitment to comply with them.
This January it has also been 90 years since the first Czech set foot in Antarctica. He was Václav Vojtěch, who took part in the expedition led by Richard Evelyn Byrd and was later awarded the US Congressional Gold Medal.
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