Social Democrats party chairman Jan Hamáček told journalists on Monday
that his party could withdraw from the coalition government if its senior
partner ANO votes to elect far-right journalist Michal Semin to the council
of state news agency ČTK.
Semin, who has blamed American elites for the 9/11 terror attacks, heads the ultra-conservative movement Akce DOST. Last week, the Federation of Jewish Communities protested against his candidacy, citing his alleged anti-Semitic statements
His candidacy for the ČTK council was proposed by the far-right opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy party. It was also backed by ANO deputies in a first-round vote earlier in June.
Hamáček said that Semin was an “unacceptable” candidate. If ANO voted to support him in the second round on 20 June, there would be no point for the Social Democrats to continue in the coalition government, he said.
Later on Monday, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who founded ANO, said his party had not supported Semin’s candidacy and would not back him in future. He said he did not understand why Hamáček said otherwise, calling it “a nonsense”.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) is in Paris
Wednesday for a meeting with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian,
and the Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Amélie de Montchalin.
Their agenda includes issues of European diplomacy, security and also military operations in Mali involving soldiers from their respective countries.
Mr Petříček is also due to present the priorities of the one-year Czech presidency of the Visegrad Group, which begins in July.
Upon arriving in France this morning, he first went to lay a wreath at a monument to Czechoslovak legionnaires who died fighting with France in the world wars.
Minister of Interior Jan Hamáček, along with police and customs officials
on Tuesday opened a National Border Protection Centre in Prague. The main
task of the newly established centre is to ensure cooperation between
security forces in the protection of the Czech Republic’s outer borders.
The joint centre of the immigration police and the Czech Republic’s Customs Administration, which is located in Prague, will cooperate with partners in the Schengen Area and other countries.
Mr Hamáček said better protection of the Czech Republic’s outer borders was a basic precondition for preserving the freedom of movement.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš remains defiant in the midst of a storm following the leaking of a preliminary EU audit which states that he has a conflict of interests and the country many have to return close to half a billion crowns in EU grants as a result. The prime minister insists that the country will not have to return anything and has refused a call for him to ask the lower house for a vote of confidence in his minority government.
One of the four top jobs in the European Union should go to somebody from
Central Europe, the Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček,
said at the Prague European Summit on Wednesday. Following the weekend’s
elections to the European Parliament debate has begun on who should take
the roles of president of the European Commission, president of the
European Council, high representative for foreign and security policy and
president of the European Parliament.
Mr. Petříček said he sensed a positive mood as regards Central European states’ expectations being met in this regard.
The Czech foreign policy chief also told delegates at the conference that there were too many disputes between Central European and Western European EU members, saying that while the two parts had differences they had more in common.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček presented the opening address at a
three-day international conference titled Prague European Summit that began
in the Czech capital on Monday.
This year’s conference is subtitled Europe at a Crossroads and the panel debates will afford an opportunity to analyze the outcome of the European elections and consider where the EU is heading.
Other areas of debate will focus on European competitiveness, artificial intelligence, rule of law, the Eurozone and Brexit.
The Prague European Summit, which has been an annual event since 2015, will also hear an address by the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s centre-right ANO party “won” the European Parliament elections this weekend. Their junior coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats clearly “lost”. Those are the newspaper headlines. But, as always, the political landscape is more nuanced. Mr Babiš’s foes in the main opposition parties together will have twice as many MEPs, at a time when he is under investigation for alleged EU subsidy fraud.