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Finance minister promises further CZK 475 million to diplomacy

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Prague, Aug 22 (CTK) – Czech diplomacy will receive additional 475 million crowns in its draft budget for 2018 for defence against cyber threats and celebrations of significant anniversaries, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek told reporters after the talks with Finance Minister Ivan Pilny (ANO) on Tuesday.

Zaoralek (senior government Social Democrats, CSSD) originally demanded additional 616 million crowns from Pilny (ANO). However, Pilny has not yet promised the money for the repairs of the state property, such as the embassies’ buildings.

“We have so far agreed on 475 million, which is a decent result to me,” Zaoralek added.

The Foreign Ministry was originally to receive 7.8 billion crowns next year, according to the draft state budget worked out by Pilny’s predecessor, ANO chairman Andrej Babis, who was forced to leave the government due to his dubious business activities in May.

During the talks between the foreign affairs and finance sectors held since May, the finance minister promised to raise the original sum. Zaoralek would like his sector’s budget to amount to 8.6 billion.

Since the begining of the talks, he has demanded more money to strengthen cyber security. The sector needs to pay experts and upgrade its technical equipment, he said.

“Those who intend to hack our systems have state-of-the-art equipment and we must be able to face them,” Zaoralek said.

The Foreign Ministry became a target of hackers’ attacks at the beginning of this year.

Zaoralek also demanded additional finances from Pilny for the planned celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia and the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Pact troops’ invasion of the country.

Czech diplomacy needs further finances to secure consular services for Czech citizens in connection with the upcoming Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018. “I am glad that we have all this covered,” Zaoralek said.

However, the Foreign Ministry will lack some 120 million crowns for the repairs and maintenance of embassies and other buildings of the Czech Republic abroad.

“We have agreed to negotiate about this next year,” Zaoralek said.

He said previously the budget of his office was to a high extent based on contractual commitments of the Czech Republic.

This year, the Foreign Ministry has a budget of 7.6 billion crowns.

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