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Babiš wants congruence with president in foreign policy

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Prague, May 20 (CTK) – It is important for the future government to concur with the president in foreign policy, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) said on Sunday, commenting on the nomination of Social Democrat (CSSD) Miroslav Poche for foreign minister, which President Milos Zeman opposed.

Babis reacted to the question about his stance on Zeman rejecting MEP Poche as diplomacy head in the nascent government of ANO and the Social Democrats.

Babis said the nominations for the ministerial posts to be filled by the Social Democrats were fully up to them. But he added that he would like to meet the candidates.

However, the Social Democrats must first approve the coalition cooperation with the ANO movement in an intra-party referendum.

“I do not know Mr Poche and I do not want to assess him on the basis of media information,” Babis told reporters before leaving for a visit to Finland.

“The congruence with the president in foreign policy is important,” he said.

Babis’s ANO minority government resigned after it lost a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies in January, but it keeps ruling, pending the formation of a new cabinet on which ANO agreed with the Social Democrats. It is to be supported by the Communists as both parties do not command a majority in the lower house.

The Social Democrats are to fill five seats in the minority coalition government with ANO. They released the candidates for ministers on Friday.

Apart from Poche to become the foreign affairs minister, CSSD chirman Jan Hamacek is to head the Interior Ministry, former political deputy minister Petr Krcala may head the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry, Miroslav Toman, president of the Food Chamber, is to be the agriculture minister and Olomouc Mayor Antonin Stanek the culture minister.

Zeman rejected Poche’s participation in the government. He explained his stance saying Poche wrote an article that was positive towards migration and migrant quotas. This is why Zeman is of the view that Poche’s opinions might be at variance with the official foreign policy of the new government.

Poche, who supported Zeman’s rival candidate Jiri Drahos before the January presidential election, said he would like to meet Zeman and explain his opinions and priorities to him.

The CSSD members will decide whether the party will join Babis’s second cabinet, supported by the Communists (KSCM), in an internal referendum that would start on Monday. Its results will be announced on June 15.

The government of ANO and the CSSD would have 93 seats in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies. As a result, it needs the votes of the 15 KSCM MPS to have a majority in it.

However, the KSCM said it would decide on its toleration of the ANO-CSSD cabinet only after the end of the CSSD internal referendum.

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