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August 9, 2018 12:00 am | FILED UNDER: politics

Babis Takes On European Agenda: No Plans To Appoint Foreign Minister

By ČTK Andrej Babis

Prague, Aug 9 (CTK) – The provisional and unclear situation where the post of Czech foreign minister is temporarily held by Interior Minister Jan Hamacek, plays into the hands of PM Andrej Babis, enabling him to increasingly deal with the European agenda himself, Lukas Jelinek writes in daily Pravo today.

 

When President Milos Zeman appointed Babis’s cabinet of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) in late June, he named CSSD chairman Hamacek interior minister and simultaneously also acting foreign minister, after refusing to appoint CSSD candidate Miroslav Poche to the latter post.

 

Zeman and Babis now consider the affair solved, while the CSSD hesitates on what steps to take. In the meantime, the CSSD has pushed through Poche to the post of the Foreign Ministry political secretary, and Tomas Petricek and Lukas Kaucky (both CSSD) to the posts of deputy foreign ministers, Jelinek writes.

 

“I expect the situation to start being solved within a few weeks or a few months at the most,” Poche, who insists on his ministerial candidacy, has told Pravo.

 

A “solution” would require the resignation of Hamacek as acting foreign minister. Afterwards, in his capacity as the junior government CSSD chairman, he would have to propose a new candidate for the post. In doing so, he would force Babis and Zeman to act, Jelinek writes.

 

What candidate, however, will Hamacek offer to them? Will the CSSD be able to agree on Poche’s candidacy again? Or will another candidate appear as a compromise? Jelinek asks.

 

Babis welcomes the current situation, which enables him to deal with the EU agenda personally more than usual. Hamacek cannot manage everything, he also has a lot to do as interior minister. And subordinate officers zealously meet Babis’s instructions, Jelinek writes.

 

Babis has promoted himself to the leader of the anti-immigration crusade in Europe. You will not pass through, we will prevent this at any cost – this is his message to the refugees in case some accidentally strayed to the Czech Republic, Jelinek writes with a sarcastic allusion to the very low number of foreign seekers of Czech asylum.

 

Babis says the migration issue will decide on the European election result next year, not only in the Czech Republic, and that people will wonder a lot.

 

If Poche, a MEP, were foreign minister, Babis would have to soften his approach. However controversial his personal reputation, Poche is well-versed in foreign affairs, holds clear positions and is capable of promoting them.

 

He told Pravo this week that he would symbolically help Italy, not by a headless acceptance of migrants but by carrying out the asylum procedure in Czech territory. It would be of no use to the Czechs if bureaucracy flooded the EU’s southern states, Poche said.

 

Poche is against asylum seekers, economic migrants and asylum holders to be lumped together. He said problems must be nipped in the bud. The EU can hardly return the people fleeing war-stricken regions. That is why it is in the EU’s interest to invest money in Africa and secure conditions for people’s survival there in order to curb their mass departure, Poche says. This, nevertheless, is a position Babis and Hamacek share as well, Jelinek writes.

 

In the same sober and realistic way, without empty promises, Poche comments on other European political issues such as the Czech entry into the euro zone, Jelinek writes.

 

Poche is a pragmatist who analyses problems before solving them in an acceptable way. This is advantageous in foreign policy. Gestures, generously squandered by Babis and Zeman, can ensure neither security nor prosperity to Czechs, Jelinek writes.

 

If Poche became foreign minister, Babis would have to curb his outcries. That is why Poche’s appointment to the post is very improbable, Jelinek concludes.

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