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January 31, 2018 6:26 pm | FILED UNDER: politics

Babis Distances Himself from Zeman: Tells Reporter they have ‘Nothing in Common’

By ČTK Andrej Babis and Milos Zeman

Berlin, Jan 31 (CTK correspondent) – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) is convinced that he has almost nothing in common with President Milos Zeman, Babis has said in an interview with German paper Die Welt.

 

Babis also called the re-elected Zeman, 73, his president, and said a campaign was being led against Zeman.

 

“Almost nothing at all,” Babis answered the paper’s question about what he has in common with Zeman.

 

“He is my president. I supported him. We do not always share views, but he supported me, too,” said Babis, who also expressed satisfaction with the presidential election’s result.

 

Zeman defended his post in the January 26-27 second round of the direct presidential election, gaining 51.4 percent of the vote and beating his rival, former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos (48.6 percent).

 

“His (Zeman’s) problem lies in that you, Western journalists, are copying all rubbish that his enemies write. A campaign is being led against him. But I have also criticised him in some points,” Babis said.

 

Before the runoff vote, Babis recommended that Zeman get rid of Presidential Office head Vratislav Mynar and his close aide Martin Nejedly.

 

Babis said Zeman had been exaggerating the migration issue at the beginning. However, primarily an ultra-right party in the Czech Republic took up this issue, Babis said without elaborating, possibly referring to the anti-EU and anti-immigration Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD).

 

Di Welt also asks Babis who, along with Zeman, is labelled a populist in Germany, about U.S. President Donald Trump and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, two politicians with whom Babis is often compared.

 

“I and Trump had one thing in common in the past – we both had Czech wives. This is all. And when it comes to Berlusconi, I do not own any televisions, I have just one music channel,” Babis said.

 

He also commented on the formation of a government. He reiterated that he would prefer heading a minority government.

 

He said he would wait (with the government cooperation talks) for the Social Democrats’ (CSSD) new leadership to be elected at their forthcoming congress.

 

“However, I feel disappointed by all parties that were reluctant to support my government for various reasons,” he added.

 

Babis’s ANO minority government resigned two weeks ago as the Chamber of Deputies did not vote confidence in it. Zeman entrusted Babis with talks on the formation of a new cabinet and said he would reappoint him as PM.

 

Babis faces criminal prosecution on suspicion of an EU subsidy fraud. Most parties refuse to join a government headed by a prosecuted person.

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