Milos Zeman Andrej Babis


Babis: Prague Will Not Enter Debate On Anti-Russian Sanctions

Andrej Babiš, Miloš Zeman, Russian Influence

Prague, Sept 13 (CTK) – The Czech Republic will not be actively involved in a debate on the anti-Russian sanctions, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) told reporters today.


He said the top elected officials had agreed at their Wednesday meeting on foreign policy at Prague Castle, the office of President Milos Zeman, that they did not consider this a priority.


The EU imposed the sanctions on Russia in reaction to its annexation of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula, in 2014 and its support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. The Union has been extending the sanctions’ validity in regular intervals.


“We have agreed that we will not actively stand up to comment on the issue since there is no reason for this,” Babis said about a debate on the anti-Russian sanctions.


He recalled that the EU member states differed on the stances on Russia and they also had different opinions about whether the sanctions should continue.


In March 2015, the EU made the lifting of the sanctions conditional on the implementation of the Minsk peace agreements.


The EU also took other measures in reaction to the Ukrainian crisis. A number of individuals and firms, which contribute to splitting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, have been banned from entering the EU.


Since the EU does not recognise the Russian annexation of Crimea, it has suspended cooperation with this region and its politicians.


Zeman, Babis, Chamber of Deputies chairman Radek Vondracek (ANO), Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) and Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO) agreed at the Wednesday meeting that the reasons for the anti-Russian sanctions still persisted. They called for the Minsk agreements to be met by all the parties involved.


They also agreed that it would be useful if the European Council thoroughly discussed the anti-Russian sanctions and assessed their economic and political effectiveness in relation to the procedure of their prolongation.


Babis said today that a discussion on the sanctions prolongation was no priority for the Czech Republic, while he considered the finding of a systemic solution to the migrant crisis and a debate on the EU financial framework for 2021-2027 such priorities.


Zeman has repeatedly called for the lifting of the anti-Russian sanctions.


However, not the president, but the prime minister represents the Czech Republic in the European Council, Babis pointed out, commenting on the president’s stance. “The president is not a member of the European Council, so he can be saying what he wants,” Babis added.