Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his Visegrad Four counterparts met in
Prague on Thursday to discuss energy and climate change with Austrian
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
The V4 summit attended by the Austrian chancellor focussed on energy and EU climate change policy, areas where the positions of Austria and the V4 (which includes Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) differ significantly.
Unlike Austria, the V4 countries say achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is not possible without building more nuclear power plants.Austria does not like the idea that EU money paid to help phase-out coal mining and boost alternate energy sources should be used for nuclear power.
PM Babiš argues that in the interests of “energy security” and ecomomic growth, the Czech Republic must build new nuclear units even if it contravenes European Union law.
The talks also covered EU funding and migration where the heads of government found more common ground.They agreed on the need to fight illegal migration,rejected the idea of obligatory migrant quotas and stressed the importance of defending the EU's outer borders.
Since the talks were held on the anniversary of the death of student martyr Jan Palach, the prime ministers laid flowers at the Palach memorial at the top end of Wenceslas Square where Palach set himself on fire in protest against growing public apathy to the Soviet-led invasion.
A meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday addressed the
conflict between Iran and the United States following the killing of
Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last week.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said after the meeting that Czech police
officers, soldiers and civilians in Iraq were safe, adding that the Czech
Republic had funds at hand for their possible evacuation from the country.
The Czech Army currently has around 40 soldiers and police officers in Iraq mainly working to train Iraqi security forces to fight against the ISIS militia.
According to the general chief of staff, they will remain stationed in Iraq but increased security measures will be taken to ensure their safety.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Defence Ministry officials have moved to quell concerns over the security of Czech soldiers and police officers serving in Iraq. The general chief of staff said precautions had been taken to ensure the safety of the 40-member-strong Czech team and an emergency evacuation plan was in place should the need arise.
Million Moments for Democracy, the anti-government protest movement that brought hundreds of thousands of Czechs onto the streets last year, has set its sights on helping traditional democratic parties opposed to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is under criminal investigation, win the next parliamentary elections. At a press conference in Prague on Tuesday afternoon the movement’s leaders announced a new concept for the organisation called Million Moments 3.0. I asked its deputy head, Benjamin Roll, to define what it means and explain their new
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says the Czech Republic is not at present
considering withdrawing its troops from Iraq. Speaking on a visit to
Olomouc, Mr. Babiš confirmed an earlier statement from the General Staff
of the Czech Army that none of the country’s soldiers had been harmed
during overnight rocket attacks on two US bases in Iraq.
A Czech Ministry of Defence spokesman said no Czech soldiers had been stationed at the bases.
Iran said the strikes had been in retaliation for the killing last week of its military commander Qassem Suleimani.
A spokesperson for the Czech Army said its troops had halted exercises and were remaining at their bases, adding that it would await a decision on how to proceed from NATO command.
Almost 40 Czech soldiers are taking part in a NATO mission in Iraq and five Czech police officers are serving as instructors in Bagdad.
The ‘A Million Moments for Democracy’ initiative long calling for Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš’s ouster has announced another wave of protests
and events starting in late February.
Under the banner ‘Relay for Democracy’, the group plans to host a protest/debate every week in a city in a different Czech region, with the last in Prague.
The aim is to highlight important national and local issues and Babiš’s alleged corruption and conflicts of interest.
‘Million Moments’ founder Mikuláš Minář told reporters Tuesday even more important than seeing Babiš resign is the country’s future.
“Therefore, our main goal for the next two years is to work with democratic parties to win the parliamentary elections”, he said.
Czech senator Lukáš Wagenknecht (independent, for the Pirates) has called
on central banks in Austria and Germany to examine loans provided to the
Agrofert conglomerate founded by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO).
Wagenknecht is hoping to learn more about how Agrofert operates since Babiš was compelled under Czech law to place it in trust funds, the news site Neovlivní.cz reports.
European Commission audits leaked to the press have found Babiš in conflict of interest because he continues to exert influence over Agrofert, despite placing it into trust funds in 2017.
Wagenknecht wants to determine whether Agrofert gave false or contradictory information to German and Austrian banks regarding beneficial ownership of the conglomerate.
The senator noted that in a Slovak register Babiš is listed as the controlling entity of Agrofert and its end beneficiary.
A second European Commission audit has found Prime Minister Andrej Babiš
(ANO) in conflict of interest, the news server Neovlivni.cz reports, citing
an “extremely reliable” unidentified source.
The first audit, focused on EU structural funds, determined Babiš is in conflict of interest because he continues to influence the Agrofert conglomerate he founded, despite placing it into trust funds in 2017. The second was focused on the distribution of agricultural subsidies.
However, according to the Ministry of Agriculture spokesman Vojtěch Bílý, the ministry has not received the final audit report yet, but merely suporting documents for bilateral negotiations. The final version of the audit should be ready after the meeting, which will take place on January 28, he told Czech Radio.
Babiš has rejected the findings of the as-yet unpublished documents, neither of which have been officially translated into Czech.
Transparency International argues Babiš knows full well what Agrofert companies are doing and so can take decisions as head of state benefitting them. The anti-corruption watchdog also notes his wife sits on a trust fund board, and his own media report on Agrofert’s activities.
In his first ever New Year’s address to the nation, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told Czechs they had reason to celebrate since they were currently experiencing one of the happiest and most successful periods in the country’s modern history and had no reason to fear the future. He said his long-term investment plan had the potential to turn the Czech Republic into a country like Switzerland.
In a New Year’s address, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said that the Czech
Republic was currently going through one of the most successful and happy
periods in its modern history and was performing confidently in
international relations. Mr. Babiš told TV viewers on Wednesday evening
that his government would continue its policy of mainly investing in
people, adding that it would raise both pensions and salaries in 2020.
The PM said a new construction bill would likely be the most important piece of legislation in the lower house this year, while digitialisation and cybersecurity would also be major issues for his cabinet.