Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is currently on an official visit to Israel, meeting with his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and has high hopes for strengthening what he says is a “strategic partnership”. I asked Irena Kalhousová, an expert on Czech-Israeli relations from the London School of Economics, what makes the relationship special.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has been re-elected chairman of the ANO party that he founded seven years ago, running unopposed at the party’s congress on Sunday. Polls show Mr. Babiš remains the most popular, trusted politician in parliament, and ANO would win general elections if held today. So, what direction is he looking to take the party – and the country?
Junior coalition partners the Social Democrats have come out against a plan
by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO for the creation of a government
district in Prague’s Letňany district, Novinky.cz reported on Friday.
The idea would involve moving state officials out of city centre buildings.
The Social Democrats have joined opposition parties in opposing the plan,
with senior members saying it could threaten the historical locations
currently housing ministries and needed to be analysed in more depth.
The idea’s chances were recently boosted after a meeting between the prime minister and Prague Mayor Zdeňek Hřib, where the latter said he would be willing to give such a project the green light if the government paid for some crucial investments in the city’s infrastructure. While no agreement has yet been reached, Mr. Babiš has said that he wants to continue with the negotiations.
Czech Prime Minister Andre Babiš has slammed a report by Deutsche Welle,
which said foreign workers employed in a company linked to Mr Babiš work
in very poor conditions. The report, which was published on Tuesday, also
said the foreign workers arrived in the Czech Republic in terrible
circumstances. The ANO party leader said the article was fabricated and
full of lies.
The author of the report cited a Vietnamese, who used to work in the poultry factory Vodňanská drůbež in Mirovice, about 80 kilometres southwest of Prague, which belongs to the Agrofert Holding, founded by Andrej Babiš.
Mr Babiš turned Agrofert into trust funds in 2017 in order to comply with the conflict of interest law, but his critics say he is still in control since the trusts are managed by his family members and lawyers
A two-day conference on digitalization got underway on Thursday in the
Czernin Palace, the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focusing on
topics related to modern technologies and their impact on society and
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the Czech Republic must rise to the level of other EU countries in the areas of research, innovation and digital education. He also said the country must provide optimal conditions for researchers and scientists to prevent their outflow.
At the end of last year, his government adopted a program called Digital Czechia, promoting digitization of state administration.
The Guardian has devoted attention to what it calls the breakthrough
verdict of the Černošice council on the Czech prime minister’s alleged
conflict of interests.
The Guardian notes that the Černošice council is the first Czech institution to declare that the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, still controls the giant multi-industry group Agrofert, even though he put the conglomerate into trust funds to meet a strict new conflict of interest law.
The daily notes that the verdict, issued on January 21st, could have wider resonance by influencing the outcome of the European Commission’s investigation into Agrofert’s receipt of EU subsidies in recent years. The prime minister has responded with anger to the Černošice ruling, which he described as “politicised” and vowed to challenge it.
The Czech branch of the international watchdog Transparency International filed a complaint both with the European Commission and the Černošice council - a small municipality just outside Prague where Babiš lives - because Czech law states that conflict of interest complaints must be registered with the relevant local authority.
During a trip to Washington, the Czech foreign minister, Tomáš
Petříček, will discuss the possibility of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš
meeting President Donald Trump at the White House, Hospodářské noviny
reported on Thursday. Mr. Petříček will raise the matter with his US
counterpart, Mike Pompeo, in late February.
Mr. Petříček told Hospodářské noviny that the Czech authorities’ stance toward Chinese telecoms giant Huawei had helped to bring about the possible meeting with Mr. Trump, which is mooted for this spring.
Organisations crucial to the running of the Czech state have been ordered to review their use of Huawei products in view of a potential security risk. The US authorities have accused the Chinese firm of the theft of technology and other crimes.
The Slovak president, Andrej Kiska, has warned against the spreading of
distrust in the state and populism in a speech at Brno’s Masaryk
University. Rector Mikuláš Bek said that Mr. Kiska was maintaining the
traditions of Masaryk and Štefánik in Czech and Slovak politics, adding
that he had not gone in for vulgar humour or cheap witticisms.
The Slovak head of state received Masaryk University’s Grand Gold Medal during a ceremony on Tuesday morning. On Monday the institution celebrated the centenary of its foundation.