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Posts tagged ‘Central Land of Koruna’

New Czech government wins confidence vote in Parliament

July 12, 2018

PRAGUE (AP) — The new Czech government won a mandatory confidence vote in the lower house of Parliament early Thursday, ending months of political instability following October’s general elections and giving the far-left Communists a role in governing for the first time since the country’s 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution.

The government is led by populist billionaire Andrej Babis as prime minister. His centrist ANO (YES) movement won the election, but his first minority government lost a confidence vote in January and had to resign.

The government’s creation took such a long time because most other parties in Parliament have been reluctant to enter a coalition with ANO because of fraud charges facing Babis, who denies wrongdoing.

Babis’ second government is made up of ANO and leftist Social Democrat deputies and it also doesn’t have a parliamentary majority. It was sworn in June 27. Babis struck a controversial power-sharing deal with the Communist Party to carve out the 105-91 vote early Thursday that put through the confidence measure required to govern,

Protesting the rising influence of the Communists, hundreds protesters rallied near the parliament building during the daylong debate. Thousands recently took to the streets to protest the planned pact with them.

The governing coalition and the Communists are united in rejecting any compulsory distribution of migrants in the European Union. Babis has also agreed to meet the Communist Party’s demand to tax the compensation that the country’s churches receive for property seized by the former Communist regime. The Communists are vocal opponents of the payment.

The deal between Babis and the Communists ensured the government’s victory in the confidence vote but it is too vague to give a clear picture of the future influence of the Communists on the government.

The hardline party is vehemently opposed to NATO and has friendly ties with the ruling communists in Cuba, China and North Korea. The Communists also oppose the deployment of Czech troops abroad, particularly to the Baltics and Poland as part of NATO missions amid the tension between Russia and the West.

Along with its anti-migrant stance, the new government opposes setting a date for the Czech Republic to adopt the EU’s common euro currency. The new Cabinet has been under the strong influence of pro-Russian President Milos Zeman, who is known for an anti-migrant rhetoric. It still doesn’t have a proper foreign minister after Zeman rejected a candidate for the post over his purportedly sympathetic views of migration.

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Czech PM inks power-sharing deal with Communists

July 10, 2018

PRAGUE (AP) — Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis signed a power-sharing deal with the far-left Communist Party on Tuesday in a move that will give the maverick party a role in governing for the first time since the country’s 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution.

The agreement is meant to ensure the Communist Party’s support for the coalition government led by Babis in a key, mandatory confidence vote in the lower house of Parliament on Wednesday. All governments must win such a vote to stay in power.

The government of Babis’ centrist ANO (YES) movement and the leftist Social Democrats that was sworn in on June 27 doesn’t have a majority in the house and needs the Communists’ support to survive. The cooperation with the Communists is a controversial issue that recently prompted thousands of Czechs to rally against it.

Unlike most other communist parties in central Europe that have joined the left-wing mainstream in recent decades, the Czech party has maintained a hardline stance. It is vehemently opposed to NATO and has friendly ties with the ruling communists in Cuba, China and North Korea. The Communists also oppose the deployment of Czech troops abroad, particularly to the Baltics and Poland as part of NATO’s mission amid the tension between Russia and the West.

The Communists insist Russia poses no threat. To win their support, Babis agreed with their demand to tax the compensation that the country’s churches receive for property seized by the former Communist regime.

The Communist Party is a vocal opponent of the payment.

Syrian Kurdish leader detained in Prague on Turkey’s request

February 25, 2018

BEIRUT (AP) — Czech authorities detained a former leader of a Syrian Kurdish political party under an Interpol red notice that was based on Turkey’s request for his arrest, Turkish and Syrian Kurdish officials said Sunday.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Salih Muslim, former co-chair of the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, was “caught.” Speaking in Sanliurfa Sunday, Erdogan said, “Our hope, God willing, is that the Czech Republic will hand him over to Turkey.”

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Turkey requested Muslim’s detention for extradition after locating him in a Prague hotel. Bozdag called Muslim the “terrorist head.” A Kurdish official close to Muslim, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the former PYD leader was in Prague attending a conference. After a Turkish participant took a photograph of him, Czech police detained the Syrian politician Saturday, following a request by Turkey.

Czech police say that have arrested and placed in detention a 67-year-old foreigner at the request of Turkey’s Interpol. No further details were immediately released by Czech police. Muslim was put on Turkey’s most-wanted list earlier in February with a $1 million reward.

The Turkish justice ministry said Muslim was being tried in absentia for his alleged involvement in a March 2016 car bomb attack on Turkey’s capital, which killed 36 people and injured 125. Turkey considers the PYD a “terrorist group” linked to outlawed Kurdish insurgents fighting within Turkey’s own borders for more than three decades.

The party is the leading political Kurdish force in northern Syria, and Muslim remains highly influential even after stepping down as co-chair last year. The PYD condemned in a statement Muslim’s detention, saying the move is an “illegal and immoral act by Czech authorities” and calling for his immediate release.

The group also accused Turkey of adopting “dirty methods in chasing personalities that are playing a role in the fight against terrorism,” highlighting Muslim’s major role in mobilizing international opinion in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The United States has been backing the PYD’s armed wing, the People’s Protection Units or YPG, in combating the extremist IS. The alliance has tensed relations between Washington and Ankara, who are NATO allies.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched an incursion into northern Syria, seeking to rout the YPG from the enclave of Afrin. The Kurdish official said the former PYD leader was invited to Prague to take part in a conference held once every six months to discuss issues linked to the Middle East such as the Syrian crisis, Turkey, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The justice ministry said it was submitting an extradition request for Muslim. An extradition request would have to be approved by a Czech court and by the justice minister. Muslim is a Syrian citizen.

Turkey shares a 911-kilometer border with Syria. The YPG controls much of the territory along the border.

Bilginsoy reported from Istanbul and Karel Janicek in Prague contributed to this report.

Czech lawmakers lift immunity of PM Babis over fraud claims

January 19, 2018

PRAGUE (AP) — Lawmakers in the lower house of the Czech parliament have agreed to lift the immunity from prosecution for Prime Minister Andrej Babis over alleged fraud involving EU subsidies. Friday’s 111-69 vote allows police to complete their investigation into Babis.

The case involves a farm that received an EU subsidy after its ownership was transferred from a conglomerate of some 250 companies that belonged to Babis to Babis’ family members. The EU farm subsidy was meant for medium and small businesses.

Babis has been charged but denies wrongdoing. Because of the charges, no party has been willing to form a coalition government with Babis after his ANO (YES) centrist movement won October’s parliamentary election.

New Czech minority government fails to win confidence vote

January 16, 2018

PRAGUE (AP) — The new Czech minority government led by populist billionaire Andrej Babis has failed to win a mandatory confidence vote in the lower house of Parliament and has to resign. Tuesday’s loss was expected because the government lacks a majority.

Babis’ ANO (YES) centrist movement won October’s parliamentary elections with 78 seats in the 200-seat house. His government was appointed in December. But none of the eight other parties that holds parliamentary seats has agreed to create a coalition government with ANO because they consider Babis unsuitable to lead the government due to fraud charges he has been facing linked to EU subsidies.

President Milos Zeman, Babis’ ally, said he would ask him to form a government again. Any new government still has to win a parliamentary confidence vote to rule.

Anti-migrant incumbent favored in Czech presidential vote

January 12, 2018

PRAGUE (AP) — The Czechs are electing a new president, and eight candidates are hoping to unseat the incumbent. President Milos Zeman, 73, is seeking another five-year term in the largely ceremonial post and is the favorite to win the election’s first-round vote Friday and Saturday.

Two political newcomers, the former president of the Academy of Sciences, Jiri Drahos, and popular song writer Michal Horacek are considered his major challengers. Others with a chance to advance to the runoff are Mirek Topolanek, an outspoken leader who served as prime minister from 2006 to 2009, and Pavel Fischer, a former diplomat.

If no candidate achieves a majority, the top two will face each other in a runoff in two weeks. Friday’s vote was hit by a protest. After Zeman entered a polling station in Prague, he was approached by a female Femen activist stripped to the waist who shouted “Zeman, Putin’s slut!” His guards intervened and led the shaken president away. Zeman returned several minutes later to vote and said he was honored to be heckled by a Femen activist.

Zeman was elected to the largely ceremonial post in 2013 during the country’s first direct presidential vote, a victory that returned the former left-leaning prime minister to power. In office, he’s become known for strong anti-migrant rhetoric that won him support from the populist far-right. He has also divided the nation with his pro-Russia stance and his support for closer ties with China.

He was one of the few European leaders to endorse Donald Trump’s bid for the White House. He has flown the European Union flag at Prague Castle but has used every opportunity to attack the 28-nation bloc.

Former Czech PM Topolanek announces presidential candidacy

November 05, 2017

PRAGUE (AP) — Former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has announced he is running for in the presidential election scheduled for January. Topolanek confirmed his candidacy to Czech public television on Sunday. The colorful and outspoken politician is set to say more on Tuesday, the deadline for entering the race.

Topolanek served as prime minister of the Czech Republic during 2006-2009 as the head of the conservative Civic Democratic Party. He was a staunch supporter of a U.S. missile defense plan President Barack Obama ultimately abandoned.

Topolanek often made headlines, such as when he called Obama’s economic recovery plan a “road to hell.” He left politics for business in 2010. Czech President Milos Zeman, who is known for his pro-Russia views and anti-migrant rhetoric, is seeking re-election and currently favored to win.

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