Five Arab countries are listed among the top debtors of the Czech Republic, whose government is attempting to recover monies owned ever since the collapse of the Iron Curtain in the early 1990s, reports the Prague Lidove Noviny.
According to the Czech government, at the end of 1997 the total sum of receivables reached $5.85 billion, and recovery of the debt has been extremely slow. By 2000, it had only been reduced to $5.7 billion.
The biggest debtor is Russia, which currently owes the Czech Republic $3.6 billion. In 1994 it began paying off the debt in commodities but, taking accrued interest in account, it has managed to make barely a dent in the amount that it owes.
As a group, the Arab countries are the Czech’s second largest debtors, owing a collective $1.7 billion. They include Syria, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, and Sudan.
Talks between Algeria and the Czechs regarding the debt are reportedly well advanced, with a basic agreement having been reached that payment will be made partly in cash and partly in commodities over a period of 10 years.
Libya reportedly acknowledged its debt in May 2000, but for more than a year it has been postponing a visit of an economic delegation to Prague, which is meant to discuss the matter.
Regarding Syria, the Czechs are keen to adopt a German model, according to which debt will be swapped for equity stakes in Syrian oil refineries, forges, rolling mills, and sugar refineries. The Syrians themselves had proposed this principle. – (MENA Report)
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