Czech Spy Chief’s Fate In Hands Of House Committee

Milos Zeman Andrej Babis Tomio Okamura

The House Security Committee will meet to select the Director of the Security Information Service (BIS) on Friday morning. The meeting, which was requested by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO), will start at 07:30. The meeting of the committee will take place before the special session of the Chamber. Today, the head of the SPD, Tomio Okamura, asked President Miloš Zeman to provide the arguments of the presidency to the members of the committee against the current director of the BIS, Michal Koudelka.

According to Babiš, the deputies should comment at the meeting on whether the current director Koudelka should continue to lead the spy agency, or whether his successor should be chosen by the next government. Koudelka’s term ends in mid-August.

According to the law on intelligence services, the director of the BIS is appointed by the government after discussion in the parliamentary security committee. It is not clear whether the Prime Minister will propose a specific name to deputies.

Rather, the 18-member Security Committee is dominated by politicians from the parties who stand up for Koudelko’s stay. The committee may act if at least one-third of the members are present, ie six.

Koudelka has long been criticized by President Miloš Zeman. In May, for the sixth time, he did not comply with the government’s proposal to promote the director of the BIS to the rank of general. Last year, at the end of the year, he handed over Babiš material regarding Koudelka. According to Respekt, in the document Hrad states that Koudelka “does not fulfill its obligations, conceals and does not provide information to legal addressees for a long time and publishes information in violation of the law”.

Okamura asked the president for his office to provide arguments to all committee members. “I would like them to be discussed in the Security Committee and I have taken steps to get these arguments in writing to the members,” he said. According to him, the head of the Koten committee should mediate the delivery of materials by Friday morning.

When asked by ČTK, political scientist Petr Just said that it was natural that Babiš wanted to discuss the matter in committee. “It is a legal condition, so it is not an arbitrary decision of the prime minister, he could not avoid this step. What the prime minister could influence is timing, ie to solve this issue in cooperation with the committee much earlier and not leave it to the last minute,” he added. According to him, by resolving the matter at the last minute, the Prime Minister is making the BIS as such, but also its partners abroad, uncertain.

The deputies share their opinion at Babiš’s request that the committee discuss the procedure for selecting the head of the BIS

Some members of the parliamentary security committee are suspending the request of Prime Minister Babiš, who wants to discuss in the committee whether the BIS should continue to be led by Koudelka or whether the next government should be chosen by the director of counterintelligence. Other members, specifically from the ANO movement, on the other hand, agree with the Prime Minister’s action, according to a CTK poll. The Security Committee will meet on Friday before the extraordinary plenary session of the lower house. Koudelka’s term ends in mid-August.

Pavel Žáček, the deputy chairman of the committee for the opposition ODS, thinks that if “Prime Minister Babiš catches up” and proposes Koudelka’s appointment for another term, most members of the committee will support him. “However, since it is not clear whether Babiš will nominate him (Koudelka), we cannot anticipate how the negotiations will turn out. From the prime minister’s letter to our committee, it seems that it is only possible to talk to us,” said Žáček.

Lidovec Jan Bartošek stated that he was embarrassed by the Prime Minister’s procedure and did not know what Babiš was watching by the fact that the committee should comment on the position of the director of the intelligence service. “The procedure does not respect the law in how the head of the BIS is to be elected,” he said. According to the law on intelligence services, the director of the BIS is appointed by the government after discussion in the parliamentary security committee. Koudelka has Bartošek’s support. “Mr. Colonel has repeatedly proven that he is a great professional, he conducts the service well and this service himself has a high international reputation and a high degree of trust. If it were in my power, I would appoint Mr. Koudelka for another five years,” Bartošek said.

The vice-chairman of the committee, Jiří Mašek (YES), believes that Babiš’s step “is nothing against nothing”. “On the contrary, I consider it a helpful and correct procedure,” he wrote. He did not comment on Koudelka. Another member of the committee for YES, Pavel Růžička, also stated that he agreed with the Prime Minister’s procedure. “Unfortunately, I am not the one who can appoint Mr. Koudelka. The Prime Minister and the government have this responsibility,” Růžička remarked. He also stressed that the secret services should not be politicized. “But the opposition should be aware of that,” he added.

Růžiček’s colleague from the club, Robert Králíček, considers the committee meeting to be legitimate. “Director Koudelka has always had and continues to have my support. I will act accordingly at the committee meeting,” he said. On the contrary, Marek Novák (ANO) wrote that he would not support Koudelka for another five-year period. “I am normal for the competition from which the best one comes out, it will seem normal to me for any position. If Mr. Koudelka wins, I will respect it. If there is no competition, I will support a maximum extension of one year,” he said.

The pirate vice-chairman of the committee, Lukáš Kolářík, suspended that the committee would meet at the last minute. “So I see it as a playing card for negotiations with the president, because we have elections ahead of us and Prime Minister Babiš wants to be tasked with forming a government, even if his movement does not end up in the election in the first place,” he said. Kolářík sees no reason for Koudelka’s exchange. “Not only the events around Vrbětice, but also his ant, long-term and successful work confirms to me that he is human in his place. He never had a shell,” he remarked. “Security should be apolitical and playing Maria with the head of the director of the secret service will be completely inappropriate for me,” Kolářík added.

The deputy chairman of the committee, Jan Birke from the coalition CSSD, stated that he would be surprised by the nomination with which the prime minister would come. It is the power of the government to propose the director of the BIS, the committee is to discuss the matter, he reminded. The prime minister’s approach does not follow the current customs, but it is not illegal, he says. “When we thanked the secret services for their work in the past, for example in the Vrbětice case, I meant all members of the secret services, including the boss,” Birke summed up his position on Koudelka.

“Mr. Prime Minister, with his indecision, drove himself into a corner, where he will now catch it from all sides,” wrote the deputy chairman of the committee Zdeněk Ondráček (KSČM). According to him, the security of the Czech Republic certainly does not fall with Koudelka’s departure, “as the so-called demoposition tries to tell us”. “The prime minister may already understand this, but he is zigzagging again. And that is what we have to blame him for. A strong prime minister would defend his decision himself and would not have to try to throw it at someone else who can’t decide it anyway,” Ondráček added. .

“I have repeatedly said in the past that Michal Koudelka was able to convince with his work that he is ideologically and value-wise a man who defends democracy, our institutions and pro-Western orientation. Only those who do not profess these values ​​may want to take office.” Austrian (STAN). At the meeting, he will demand that “do not give in to foreign interests”. “And the fact that Mr. Koudelka defended the interests of the people in this country is unquestionable in my experience,” the Austrian added.

According to SPD chairman Tomio Okamura, Koudelka should not continue, partly because the BIS calls the movement’s program extremist. “This nonsense of the BIS offends half a million of our voters. We really do not want such a BIS director,” he said after today’s meeting with President Miloš Zeman. According to him, Babiš chose the committee’s actions probably because he is under pressure from the media and the opposition, and the committee makes it possible to find a certain consensus.

Koudelka has long been criticized by President Zeman. In May, for the sixth time, he did not comply with the government’s proposal to promote Koudelka to the rank of general. The pupil believes that Babiš should take his constitutional responsibility seriously and nominate Koudelka for a second term “regardless of the views and interests of the president”.