Czech government and opposition clash over “pacifist” language on Ukraine

Andrej Babiš

The ruling coalition has accused opposition leader Andrej Babiš of undermining the government’s support for Ukraine through his “pacifist” language and putting at risk Czechia’s security. At a special session of the lower house on Tuesday the prime minister said the opposition should make clear whether it sides with the free West or with Putin.

Jan Lipavský | Photo: René Volfík,

Although Czechia has been one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, in recent months the opposition has been increasingly vocal regarding the need for peace talks. Growing tension between the ruling parties and opposition leader Andrej Babiš reached a head last week when Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský labelled him “a security threat” and Babiš asked his close associates for a dossier on Lipavský and his family, using extremely vulgar language. He sent the mail to the wrong address and its contents ended up in the media. The ruling parties slammed Babiš for communist-era practices and called a session of the lower house to clarify the country’s security interests.

Karel Řehka | Photo: René Volfík,

Addressing the house, Prime Minister Petr Fiala argued that helping Ukraine to defend itself against Russia was crucial for the security of Czechia itself, since Putin would not stop at Ukraine’s borders. He said that while the Czech government was doing its best to ensure the country’s safety the opposition was "purposefully undermining the cabinet's actions” and “gambling” with the country’s fate.

While the opposition ANO party has consistently backed all of the government’s initiatives in support of Ukraine - military, financial and humanitarian - its leader has increasingly started talking about the need to support peace negotiations since the military aid was not having the desired effect. He repeatedly criticized the Czech army chief of staff Karel Řehka for speaking about the need to prepare for war and consider administrative conscription. Foreign Minister Lipavský argued that since Moscow equated peace with capitulation the pacifist rhetoric of the opposition was pure populism and presented a big security risk.

Vít Rakušan | Photo: René Volfík,

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan went further, accusing Babiš of using fear marketing to win political support ahead of the European elections and suggesting that Babiš is playing, albeit unwittingly, the role of a Trojan horse in a hybrid war.

The accusations were made to a half-empty assembly chamber. Since the floor was reserved almost entirely for coalition MPs, ANO deputies walked out, leaving signs on their desks with inscriptions pointing to the government’s failings and accusing the coalition of trying to cover up its incompetence with the security debate in question.

At a press conference outside the assembly hall, Babiš rejected the idea that the party was moving away from Western values and leaning towards Russia. He said he had never questioned the country’s membership in NATO, nor had he suggested that Ukraine should cede territory to Moscow, but argued that without peace talks the bloodshed would never end.

Martin Kupka | Photo: Office of Czech Government

Pressed by a TV host to say under what conditions the coalition would support peace talks, Martin Kupka of the Civic Democrats said “if and when” Ukraine itself asked for a peace conference, Czechia would do its best to assist the process. He added that as a state which experienced the Munich Agreement, Czechia should be more wary than most of the danger of pushing a country into relinquishing its sovereignty.

Author: Daniela Lazarová | Sources: ČTK , Česká televize
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