Communist Agenda May Succeed Thanks To BabisČTK
Prague, April 30 (CTK) – The Communists (KSCM) may be able to push through a lot of their ideas because the possible coalition government of Andrej Babis (ANO) plans to rely on their support, weekly Tyden says in its issue out today in relation to their effort to drop the ban on supplies for an Iranian nuke plant.
The Communists recently pushed their proposal to drop the ban on Czech deliveries to the Iranian nuclear power plant Bushehr to the second reading in the lower house of Czech parliament. If their proposal succeeds, it may cause an international scandal and harm the long-term key partnership with Israel, Tyden writes.
Babis’s government previously took a neutral stance on the proposal, of which the right-wing opposition was highly critical.
Last autumn, Iran successfully tested a new ballistic missile that may hit Israel. In reaction, Israel has threatened to bomb Iran.
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited U.S. President Donald Trump and discussed the Iranian nuclear programme with him. At the same time, Czech President Milos Zeman organised the celebration of the 70 years of the state of Israel at Prague Castle.
In this international situation, the lower house did not reject the KSCM proposal to abolish the ban preventing Czech firms from supplying Bushehr. According to unofficial information, this caused outrage at the Israeli embassy in Prague, Tyden writes.
KSCM leader Vojtech Filip claims that the ban harms Czech exports. KSCM lower house group’s head Pavel Kovacik said Czech companies were losing billions of crowns due to it.
Opposition lawmaker Miroslava Nemcova (Civic Democrats, ODS) said Israel was the closest ally of the country and strictly economic interests could not be applied to the Bushehr case due to the political and military threats involved.
Miloslav Janulik, one of the five ANO lawmakers who voted against the KSCM proposal, said Israeli Ambassador in Prague, Daniel Meron, had a very negative stance on the proposal. “He has principal reservations about it because it is naturally perceived as a symbol,” Janulik said.
The KSCM repeatedly tried to lift the ban on supplies to Bushehr in the past, but it has always failed.
“It must be a huge bargain when they are seeking it so many years,” a lower house defence committee member requesting anonymity told Tyden.
The only cabinet member who opposed the Communist proposal was, rather surprisingly, Defence Minister Karla Slechtova (ANO). She said although the KSCM claims that the peaceful character of the Iranian nuclear programme was confirmed, there were repeated doubts whether it was so and suspicions that the Bushehr nuclear plant and the whole nuclear programme could also be used for military purposes.
Babis’s cabinet also supported the Communist plan for imposing taxation on the financial compensation paid to Czech churches. This was one of the conditions under which the KSCM was ready to tolerate Babis’s cabinet.
The KSCM strongly criticised a memorandum on lithium mining between the Industry and Trade ministry and an Australian firm shortly before the autumn election. The Communists have been boasting of saving the Czech mineral resources since then and they have been developing a position in which they have the right to comment on similar cases, Tyden writes.
The Communists oppose the privatisation of hospitals and other public services, they want the state to own waterworks, mineral resources and public transport.
The KSCM dislikes several ministers of the current ANO minority cabinet, including Slechtova, Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky, Health Minister Adam Vojtech, Agriculture Minister Jiri Milek and Industry and Trade Minister Tomas Huner, but it does not present these demands openly, Tyden writes.
It is speculated that the KSCM would like to have its “experts” in the government – (deputy) ministers of industry and agriculture. The KSCM does not want to have its politicians in the cabinet because it wants to keep looking like an opposition party.
However, the KSCM wants to win posts in state-controlled firms, health insurance companies and councils supervising public broadcasters.
The ANO movement and the Communists have opposing stances on foreign policy. The KSCM is against NATO, the European Union and the West in general, it rejects the Brussels “dictate” and puts emphasis on “national interests”. It will keep protesting against foreign military missions without the United Nations mandate, oppose convoys of allied troops crossing the Czech territory and at least verbally support Russia and China, Tyden writes.
However, in most cases this is merely a show played for the KSCM voters or a message for their business partners in the given regions rather than a serious effort to move the country’s focus from the West to the East.
Off the record, some KSCM lawmakers openly admitted they were glad that the country was in NATO. Although the Communists will probably never agree with NATO’s foreign operations, ANO and its possible partner, the Social Democrats (CSSD), expect the right-wing opposition to help them push these issues through.