Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Friday called for the presidential election in Belarus to be rerun with independent monitoring, ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
Babis wrote that they had decided with Polish Prime Minister (Mateusz Morawiecki) to appeal to the European Council President, Charles Michel, to urgently hold a videoconference of council members regarding Belarus.
“I have spoken to Polish Prime Minister and we will propose (the EU council president Charles Michel) an urgent video call of the European Council members,” Babis said on Twitter.
“The election in Belarus must be repeated, must be transparent, and with the presence of foreign observers.”
Babis underlined that there was no time to waste and that the Belarusian people needed aid fast. He also stated that the presidential election had to be repeated, had to be clear and held in the presence of foreign observers.
Díval jsem se teď na vícero videí z Běloruska, kde zbabělá agresivní policie mlátí bezbranné lidi. Je to neuvěřitelné zvěrstvo. Pevně doufám, že jsou to poslední hodiny diktátorského režimu a že občané zvítězí.
— Andrej Babiš (@AndrejBabis) August 13, 2020
“We need additional sanctions against those who violated democratic values or abused human rights in #Belarus,” tweeted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday. “I am confident today’s EU Foreign Ministers’ discussion will demonstrate our strong support for the rights of the people in Belarus to fundamental freedoms & democracy.”
“Undemocratic elections and unwarranted claims that Czechia is organizing protests,” Petříček commented on Twitter, adding that he emphasized to the Belarusian ambassador in Prague that Czechia rejects Lukashenko’s claims.
Protests against the alleged falsification of the results of Sunday’s presidential election have lasted for five days now. The police cracked down on those who took to the streets on the first day of protests.
At least two protesters have died and around 6,700 were detained this week.
According to official election results, Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994 and is the first and only president of independent Belarus, won 80 percent of the vote. The opposition immediately called the results manipulated.
- If you are looking for a job in Prague, check our new job section here
- Time to move to a new flat? Rents with no commission here!
- Want to advertise your business on Prague Morning? Contact us at [email protected]
The Czech Republic is interested in having normal relations with Russia, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told CTK on Wednesday.
“We are interested in normal relations with Russia,” he stressed. He expressed hope that the issues arising in the relations between both states would be regulated on the outcomes of mutual talks. He added that the Czech Republic approaches the organization of such talks “very responsibly.”
Babis expressed hope that the Russian-Czech talks stipulated under the 1993 Friendship and Cooperation Treaty would lead to the meeting between Russian and Czech leaders. “The fact that the Czech-Russian relations are not ideal is not surprising neither to us nor to Russians. This is why we have agreed to begin Czech-Russian consultations,” the PM noted.
During the talks, the parties will assess the state of Russian-Czech relations and regulate the existing disputes. The Czech government is interested in developing cooperation between both states, Babis added.
The Czech PM’s words came as a follow-up to the earlier statement made by Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that so far, no high-or top-level talks are planned between Russia and the Czech Republic.
When asked about the state of Russian-Czech relations due to recent events, namely the arrest of Ivan Safronov, advisor to the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, for alleged handover of sensitive information to the Czech special services, Peskov mentioned another incident: the demolition of the monument to Soviet marshal Ivan Konev in Prague.
“Recently, our relations with the Czech Republic have been marred by certain events and certain unfriendly steps taken by the municipal and Czech government,” Peskov noted. “This has had a negative effect on the general state of our bilateral relations, however, Russia calls for good relations with all countries, including the Czech Republic,” the Kremlin spokesman said.
“Russia will avoid a worsening of relations with the Czech Republic, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, commenting on press comments on the alleged preparation of an attack against Czech officials by Russia.
The Czech press reported the alleged arrival of a representative of the Russian security organs to eliminate officials responsible for dismantling a monument in Prague dedicated to Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev.
“We do not want tension in relations at all”, said Zakharova, who affirmed that everything possible is being done so that this does not happen, “since we depart from the fact that these links must be developed on the basis of mutual respect,” she said.
In addition, she considered strange the decision of the Czech government to rename Pod Kaštany Square, where the Russian embassy in Prague is located, in memory of the opposer Boris Nemtsov, organizer of protests against the Russian government in 2011 and who died the victim of an attack.
Commenting on information published by the Czech weekly journal Respekt regarding the alleged arrival in the Czech Republic of a Russian security official with the purpose of poisoning Prague municipal officials, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov called that version a sham.
The Prime Minister Andrej Babis, considered, for his part, that the expulsion of the Russian ambassador would not be necessary for anyway, because of the aforementioned information.
Moscow denounced at the time the intention of the Czech authorities to harm relations with Russia, insisting on the removal of the monument to Konev, even amid the limitations imposed by the coronavirus.
One of the Prague municipal leaders took advantage of the situation of the compulsory lockdown of the population to mobilize several workers and dismantle the aforementioned monument, dedicated to who is considered to be the liberator of then-Czechoslovakia from the Nazi occupation.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš announced on social networks that six French patients will be transported to the University Hospital in Brno. “France turned to us for help with the hospitalization of its patients. Due to the sufficient capacity, we accepted their request,” wrote Babiš.
“This is a very important sign that we are also able to help others,” he added.
Babiš announced that some shops may open on Thursday. The shops under consideration include, children’s stores, footwear shops, stationaries, and hardware stores.
France on Saturday reported 441 coronavirus hospital deaths in 24 hours, lower than the record number of 588 recorded the previous day.
This brought the total number of deaths to 7,560 since the epidemic began, top health official Jérôme Salomon told reporters. Of these, 5,532 died in hospital and 2,028 in old age facilities.
Salomon said there were now 28,143 people with coronavirus in hospital in France – up 711 from the day before, with 6,838 of them in intensive care – a daily increase of 176 critical patients.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic reached 4,475 on Sunday morning, the Health Ministry reported.
The number of victims increased to 62 today at 8:30 am and 78 have fully recovered from the infection. Over 80,000 people have been tested to date.
Francie se na nás obrátila s žádostí o pomoc s hospitalizací svých pacientů. Vzhledem k dostatečné kapacitě jsme jim vyhověli. 6 z nich by mělo být transportováno do @FNBrno. Po Itálii, Španělsku a Slovinsku je to další evropská země, které rádi pomůžeme.
— Andrej Babiš (@AndrejBabis) April 5, 2020
Leading Czech political figures consider Thursday’s EU Court of Justice verdict regarding migrant quotas “irrelevant”.
The court concluded that the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary failed to fulfill their obligations under EU law after refusing to accept a portion of the 160,000 migrants the EU was looking to distribute among member states following the 2015 migrant crisis.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš considers it essential that the Czech Republic will not be obliged to accept any asylum seekers in the EU, and that the quota system has expired in the meantime. According to him, it is irrelevant that the three Visegrad countries did not win the court case.
“We lost the dispute, but that is not important. What is important is that we do not have to pay something. Usually, the court claims some compensation for the proceedings,” said Babiš.
“The point is that we will not accept any migrants and that the quotas have expired in the meantime, especially thanks to us,” added the prime minister.
Also, according to Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, the ECJ’s ruling is not significant since the situation has changed.
“The court’s decision responds to events that happened a few years ago. I’m taking the verdict into account but without any further consequences,” Hamáček said.
Marian Jurečka, leader of the People’s Party (KDU-ČSL), stressed that the court did not take into account other measures the Czech Republic contributed to help solve the migration crisis. For example, the country was active supporting refugee camps and offered military aid in the fight against ISIS.
“The Czech Republic definitely tried show solidarity and help resolve the situation, while not endangering its own security,” Jurečka added.
Alexandr Vondra, vice chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS), also commented on the symbolism of the ECJ’s verdict and the absurdity of quotas.
“We have always argued that the quota system for redistributing migrants is wrong. The EU also withdrew from it, which is something the ECJ’s rulings cannot change. With the verdict, the EU just wants to save face, but I see no way how to put the ruling into practice,” Vondra said