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Czech arms makers claim Malta is stopping exports to Egypt

Czech arms makers have comaplined that that Malta is not giving transit permits to their ships heading for Egypt, according to daily Pravo.

Matthew Vella
23 May 2014, 9:49am
The L 39 Albatross fighter: Czech arms makers exports spare parts for the plane to Egypt
The L 39 Albatross fighter: Czech arms makers exports spare parts for the plane to Egypt
Czech arms makers have complained that Malta is harming their businesses by not giving transit permits to their ships heading for Egypt, to which Czech arms worth 150 million crowns are annually exported.

Czech arms exports to Egypt stopped last summer. From August to October 2013, the European Union declared an embargo on the imports of weapons to Egypt over disturbances in the country.

The Czech Association of Defence and Security Industry head Jiri Hynek pointed out that the United States did not halt its arms exports to Egypt during the disturbances. Only after the Egyptian army toppled President Mohammed Morsi last year, did the USA slow down some of its military deliveries in order to show its dissatisfaction with the new government.

"A dozen of Czech arms exporters have problems with Malta. Any exporter who has cargo on the ship that makes a stop in Malta must apply for a transit permit," Hynek said.

The vast majority of ships sailing to Egypt stop in Malta.

Lukas Novotny, from Excalibur, one of the biggest Czech arms firms, said transit permits for various transit countries are generally a problem for Czech companies.

"But this is simply part of trade with such a sensitive commodity," Novotny told the paper.

Excalibur wants to export spare parts for BVP armoured vehicles to Egypt.

Hynek said he hopes that Czech diplomacy will try to put the situation right in Malta or the European Union. "The situation, where you must have a transit permit even for shipments that stay in the ship in the port, should be dealt with immediately," he said.

The Czech Foreign Ministry said any EU member country can require permits for transit of goods defined as strategic and exported to a third country across its territory.

Hynek said arms exporters would have to use the far more expensive air transport to get their deliveries to Egypt.

Egypt and the Egyptian army have been one of the best clients of Czech arms makers in the long term. Under the communist regime, Czechoslovak arms firms produced large quantities of arms for Egypt and the business relations mostly continued even after the changes of regimes in both countries, Pravo writes.

At present, Czech arms makers export firearms and spare parts for L-39 Albatros planes to Egypt.

Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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