Babis Dials Back his EU Bashing

Prague, Dec 13 (CTK) – The main priority of foreign policy will be a better position of the Czech Republic in the European Union that should be more heard in Europe, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said after inaugurating new Foreign Affairs Minister Martin Stropnicky (both ANO) today.


“We must have stronger ambitions in Europe and win allies with the aim to promote our interests,” Babis said.


Stropnicky said he would primarily like to preserve the continuity of Czech foreign policy.


Diplomacy must keep working, there is no space for any “protective period” usually given to new ministers, he indicated.


As far as his personnel policy is concerned, he said he did not plan any extensive reshuffles. Only the political deputy ministers will leave the office, he added.


Both Stropnicky and Babis agreed that the Czech Republic should better coordinate its economic diplomacy.


Babis said the coordination of the agencies representing the Czech Republic abroad, such as CzechInvest and CzechTrade operating under the Industry and Trade Ministry, must be improved. The ANO movement mentioned in its election platform that they might come under the Foreign Ministry.


Stropnicky, who replaced Social Democrat (CSSD) Lubomir Zaoralek at the Foreign Ministry’s helm, was defence minister in the previous coalition government of the CSSD, ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL),


Zaoralek, who was re-elected to the Chamber of Deputies in October, is now expected to become head of the lower house foreign affairs committee.


Stropnicky, former diplomat, dealt with international affairs in the post of defence minister as well and he is considered ANO’s expert in foreign policy.


Political analysts have agreed that Babis is apparently trying to get rid of his label of an anti-European politician after the election. He has reiterated recently that EU membership is important for the Czech Republic and that he will be striving for it to become an active member that participates in the EU reform.