Within days the EU Commission is to send a letter to Prague explaining why it is suspending funding for two operational projects in the Czech Republic in the areas of environment and regional development. Funding for business development and innovation, transport, and education is also in the balance.
The idea of Interior Minister Radek John (Public Affairs, VV) becoming the government’s new anti-corruption czar is one option being considered for solving the coalition crisis that threatens to topple the government.
Backed by Brussels, the Ministry of Finance is pushing to cancel all bilateral investment protection agreements with EU countries because they disadvantage the Czech Republic. But some countries are unwilling to alter the status quo, and efforts to move forward have been hampered by tepid support from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Civic Democrats (ODS) vice chairman Pavel Blažek says the party, the largest in the current coalition government, will insist on taking control of the Interior Ministry in a reshuffled Cabinet. “If there is a two-party coalition between ODS and TOP 09 and TOP 09 will continue to control the Finance Ministry, then ODS must have the Interior Ministry,” he told Czech Position.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry has a problem. It has to show Brussels that it hasn’t erred in its management and control of the Operational Programme Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OPEI), which should support the Czech Republic’s business environment to the tune of Kč 90 billion over the next seven years. If it can’t do so, projects paid for by EU money will not be renewed.
The state intelligence agency Security Information Service (BIS) has not sufficiently monitored the activities of the private security agency ABL, claims former Interior Minister František Bublan (ČSSD). As a result, the de facto leader of Public Affairs (VV) and ex-Transport Minister Vít Bárta — ABL’s founder — was able to systematically make use of his business for political objectives and vice versa.
Most Czechs agree that the current bilateral investment treaty with the US is tipped in favor of American investors and opens Prague up to expensive arbitration proceedings. But Ministry of Finance moves to cancel the current deal to get something better are running into opposition in the US and from US business interests here. Support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been tepid as well.
The Jaroslav Škárka affair has formed a slippery slide into the depths of political oblivion. The question is who will end up there. After the parliamentary deputies of Public Affairs (VV) expelled him on Tuesday evening for breaking the party’s code of ethics and bringing the party into disrepute, Škárka announced he would present indisputable evidence back his claim that he had received cash payments from Transport Minister Vít Bárta, the VV first deputy chairman.
The government on Wednesday approved amendments to law No. 137/1994 tabled by Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra (Civic Democrats, ODS), which if passed will eliminate intermediaries from armament and equipment purchases by the Defense Ministry, and end the current practice where the ministry doesn’t usually communicate directly with suppliers.
The Civic Democrats (ODS), although the main partner in the coalition government, have two crucial problems: limited access to the levers of power and a weak party leader, Prime Minister Petr Nečas. Meanwhile, the powerful Ministry of the Interior, which deals with sensitive issues like the ProMoPro and Barták cases, is under the control of Public Affairs (VV) – the smallest party in the coalition.
Reporter for ČESKÁ POZICE. He specializes in diplomacy, security policy, European integrations and politics in the Czech Republic. He studied at the Philosophical Faculty and the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, later working in the European Commission for the foundation Ano pro Evropu (Yes for Europe) and as a reporter for the weekly Euro.