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No clear conclusion from meeting of three party leaders

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Prague, May 17 (CTK) – No clear conclusion arose from the talks between Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Jan Hamacek and Vojtech Filip, leaders of ANO, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Communists (KSCM), on the government policy statement on Thursday, Hamacek told journalists after the meeting.

The Communists said before the meeting they would not back the minority government of ANO and the Social Democrats if the policy statement says that it will enhance military missions abroad.

Hamacek said after the meeting that the Social Democrats would insist on the statement including the Czech Republic’s allied commitments.

He said he could not see any reason of why any missions of Czech soldiers should be withdrawn from the text.

Babis said he considered the disagreements a matter of formulation and words. The situation is not dramatic, he added.

Filip told told journalists before the meeting he would demand from Babis that he should make changes in the policy statement.

“The KSCM will not agree with any mission that is not supported by the United Nations Security Council because the KSCM does not want the Czech Republic to be a state violating international law,” Filip said, adding that ANO and the KSCM had time to arrive at agreement before the results of the Social Democrat referendum on the coalition government were published.

The Social Democrats want the result to be finished by June 15.

The Communists said on Saturday, they would not support the government that is being formed if its policy statement pledges to reinforce foreign military missions.

The draft policy statement on which the negotiating teams of ANO and the Social Democrats have agreed now contains the promise to enhance the Czech presence in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It also speaks about a contribution to the NATO armed forces in the Baltics and the rapid response forces.

Earlier on Thursday, the Senate approved the government plan to reinforce some foreign missions.

Under the government plan, the Czech Republic is to send up to 275 soldiers more to Iraq, Afghanistan and Mali.

In the next two years, the military is to take part in the same missions as now. In the second half of 2019, up to 96 Czech troops are to help air policing over the Baltics.

The current empowerment makes it possible for up to 806 Czech soldiers to take part in foreign missions. Along with Afghanistan, Mali and Iraq, they are also deployed at the Golan Heights, in Sinai and Kosovo.

Under the proposal, their number is to rise to 1,081 by the end of this year and to 1,191 next year.

In 2020, up to 1,096 Czech soldiers are to participate in the missions.

Later this year, up to 140 further soldiers are to leave for Afghanistan.

If formed, an ANO-CSSD cabinet would be a minority one, with 93 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. The KSCM, with 15 seats, previously promised to keep it afloat, and definitive negotiations in this respect are yet to be held.

Babis heads an ANO minority government established last December, which, however, lost a confidence vote in January.

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