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PM Babiš not to attend Munich conference for health reasons

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Prague, Feb 14 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) has cancelled his participation in the weekend security conference in Munich due to his cold, government spokeswoman Barbora Peterova told CTK on Wednesday.

Defence Minister Karla Slechtova (for ANO) and Foreign Affairs Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) will attend the conference on behalf of the Czech Republic.

“The prime minister has cancelled the trip for health reasons,” Peterova told reporters, adding that Babis suffered from cold. He decided not to go to the conference.

The government press section did not announce that any other points on Babis’s agenda would be cancelled, too, due to his illness.

Babis attended the government meeting this morning and he is to take part in the talks on the European agenda, starting at 15:00. On Thursday, he is to go to the opening of a tourism fair.

Some opposition politicians pointed out on Tuesday that the suspicion of Babis’s cooperation with the Communist secret police (StB) harmed the reputation of the Czech Republic abroad.

The Regional Court in Bratislava on Tuesday turned down Babis’s lawsuit, in which he claimed he was registered as an StB agent unrightfully.

Moreover, Babis is prosecuted on suspicion of an EU subsidy fraud.

Stropnicky will fly to Munich from an informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers to be held in Bulgaria on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, he will meet European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans and the Ukrainian, Georgian and Macedonian foreign ministers.

The Munich conference is one of the most significant meetings of top politicians and experts on security issues.

This year’s participants are to include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top German politicians.

Trans-Atlantic relations, the outlook of the European Union, new security threats, the situation in Syria and Ukraine are likely to be the issues on which the conference will focus.

Babis said after a meeting with President Milos Zeman last week that he would like to confirm the Czech Republic’s firm anchoring in the EU and NATO at the conference.

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