Daily news summary
PM rules out stepping down over latest scandal
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who has come under pressure to resign over his sons allegations that he had been forcibly detained in Crimea to prevent him testifying in the Storks Nest affair in which his father faces charges of EU fraud, has said he will never step down of his own accord.
At a press briefing in Prague on Friday, the prime minister said the affair was an orchestrated slander campaign intended to drive him out of politics. He blamed the country’s public media for allegedly “spearheading the campaign“ and asked that they let investigators and the judiciary do their job.
The embattled prime minister also thanked President Zeman and Senator Jiří Čunek for standing up for him at this difficult hour.
President Zeman says Babiš would get another chance to form government
President Miloš Zeman said in an interview for commercial TV Barrandov on Thursday night, that if Andrej Babiš’s government were to loose support in a no-confidence vote due to be held in the lower house next week, he would once again ask Mr. Babiš to form the next government.
He also noted that this cabinet could continue to function in demise for an unspecified period of time, by which time emotions would surely subside.
The president’s words elicited sharp criticism from opposition parties, who said such a move would be a blatant show of disrespect for the country’s Parliament.
Investigators still trying to contact Babiš Jr.
Investigators looking into the claims of Babiš Jr. that he had been abducted to Crimea so that he could not testify in the case against his father say that they have been trying to contact him without success at his home in Switzerland.
Babiš Jr. sent an email to the journalists at Seznam.cz saying that he wanted to cooperate with the police in the investigation of his alleged abduction to Crimea and asked for this to be arranged by phone.
He also slammed his father for saying that due to the fact that he suffered from schizophrenia he was not able to testify and had to be under constant supervision, saying that this was a lie.
Czech PM holds talks in Brussels
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Friday met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker in Brussels. They discussed the latest developments around Brexit, the EU’s long-term budget priorities, such as the rules governing subsidies from the EUs structural funds and proposed changes in agricultural subsidies.
The Czech prime minister also unveiled a plan to build a village for 150 orphans in Syria including housing facilities, canteens, kindergartens and schools and gradually help them find surviving members of their extended families. He said he had already discussed the plan with the Czech ambassador to Syria Eva Filipi. The Czech Republic has come under fire for refusing to take in migrants, including orphaned children. The Czech head of government also met for talks with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
Hungarian foreign minister grateful for Czech support in conflict with EP
The visiting Hungarian Foreign Minister Petér Szijjarto on Friday thanked the Czech Republic for coming out in Hungary’s defence in its controversy with the European Parliament over the country’s internal developments.
The European Parliament in September voted to launch a procedure against Hungary over its alleged breach of core EU values, an unprecedented move against any EU member state. The Czech Republic criticized the decision as unfortunate, arguing that dialogue would have been a better option.
During their talks in Prague foreign ministers Petér Szijjarto and Tomáš Petříček also highlighted the importance of Visegrad Group cooperation, saying it was the most effective and close-knit alliance within the EU, giving its members more clout in defending their interests.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said that the Czech Republic wanted to introduce new topics when it takes up the Visegrad Group presidency in mid-2019, among others, security matters.
Sting to perform in Prague on Friday
English singer-songwriter Sting is set to perform at Prague’s Forum Karlín on Friday evening. The former frontman of the rock band Police, along with Jamaican rapper Shaggy, will present their recently released album 44/877.
The concert in Prague is part of their eastern European tour, which will also make a stop in Poland’s Lodz and Gdansk.
Saturday should be bright and sunny around the country with day temperatures between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius.