The Czech Republic has rejected Italy’s request for EU members to share out some 450 asylum seekers rescued at sea. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said Italy’s decision to admit more migrants went against the agreement reached at the last EU summit and stressed that Europe must send out a clear signal that its doors were closed to further asylum seekers.
Donald Trump has made headlines this week by calling on America’s NATO allies to increase their defence spending. His words have met with a mixed response here in the Czech Republic, with some acceptance that armaments purchases must be stepped up – but questions surrounding the speed and focus of such spending.
A minority coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats is undergoing a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday. Although Prime Minister Andrej Babiš doesn’t have a majority, he will in all probability succeed in his second attempt form a government, after having secured a deal with the Communists who pledged to back the coalition during key votes.
In the wake of justice minister Taťána Malá’s sudden resignation over allegations of plagiarism – coming just two days ahead of a scheduled confidence vote in the new government – Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has nominated constitutional law professor Jan Kněžínek to fill her shoes, following an outcry after he first suggested he would take over the post himself.
The saga over the formation of a new government continues, with all eyes now on a planned meeting later this week between President Zeman and Miroslav Poche, the Social Democrats’ candidate for foreign affairs in a proposed minority coalition with ANO. Mr. Zeman is against the nomination and will ask Mr. Poche to step aside. However, he and his party leader show no sign of budging. I discussed the situation with political analyst Jiří Pehe.
Czech doctor and political activist Marek Hilšer first made headlines in 2014, when he and a colleague stripped to the waist at a government press conference to protest Russian aggression towards Ukraine and show support for the EU and Nato. Now a household name – having staged a bid for the presidency in a grassroots campaign – he is running for the Senate, to represent Prague districts 2 and 3. I spoke to Dr Hilšer after he officially announced his candidacy on Tuesday at a Prague café.