Monday, 21 May 2018

Defence Minister wants to continue, but not at any cost

ČTK |
17 May 2018

Prague, May 16 (CTK) - Czech Defence Minister Karla Slechtova would like to continue in the government, but not at any cost, she told reporters in reaction to the criticism of her work in the post.

She called it a manhunt and a campaign of the daily from the trust fund of PM and ANO chairman Andrej Babis.

"I am not a member of the ANO movement. I will really not stay in this post at any cost. If the state is not interested in my services, if Babis is not interested in my services after having known me for three and a half years, I will naturally not be leaving lovelorn," she told reporters.

"I feel like continuing in the post at the moment," she added.

Slechtova reacted to the information published by the daily Lidove noviny (LN). It has written that as the regional development minister in the previous coalition government, Slechtova used VIP services at the airport for some 310,000 crowns in 26 cases.

Slechtova said the sum covered 65 flights and that the use of the VIP services, including the arranging of air tickets and transport directly to the plane was in the state interest.

"Is it really in the interest of the Czech Republic that a minister would spend six hours at the airport instead of being taken there by car?" Slechtova asked.

Slechtova expressed surprise at the fact that she was often criticised on the LN's front pages.

"I feel a bit sorry for this as this paper belongs to the trust fund of the prime minister for whom I was running," she said, adding that she did not know whether Babis was behind its.

"Mr Babis is saying he does not control the paper," she added.

Slechtova said she now wanted Babis to evaluate the costs of the working trips of all ministries from the previous government.

She wrote an open letter to this effect to Babis.

Slechtova said the information carried by LN was monstrous and expedient and that she, a government member, was targetted by an aggressive campaign in order to discredit her.

Babiš said he was ready to commission the checking, adding that he was, however, surprised at the form of her letter.

Billionaire businessman Babis transferred his Agrofert holding, including several media outlets, such as LN and Mlada fronta Dnes papers, to trust funds to comply with a new conflict of interest law In February 2017.

After the government talks, Babis said if the LN information on Slechtova were true, he would consider this behaviour wasting money. He added that he was trying to call on the ministers to save resources.

"I perceive this as a campaign against me," Slechtova said.

She also complained about being constantly "lynched over her doggie at Vitkov." She reacted to a photograph of her poodle dog sitting behind a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Vitkov National Memorial.

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