Prague - Czech President Milos Zeman and Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO chairman) criticised each other in the past but recently they have turned firm allies, which may benefit both, Petr Pesek writes in Lidove noviny (LN) today.
Prezident Miloš Zeman (vpředu vpravo) jmenoval 29. ledna na Pražském hradě Andreje Babiše (vpředu vlevo) ministrem financí. ČTK Vondrouš Roman
On Wednesday, Zeman called Babis´s solution to the problem of the unprofitable Paskov coal mine a "masterpiece" and he echoed Babis´s view that the Czech health sector is a "black hole," i.e. financially ineffective, Pesek recalls.
For Zeman, whose SPOZ party suffered a debacle in the October general election, Babis is a welcome ally among the cabinet members, Pesek says.
Moreover, Zeman views Babis as his ally against the senior ruling Social Democrats (CSSD) where the wing of CSSD chairman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, an opponent of Zeman, has prevailed over the wing of Zeman´s supporters for now, Pesek writes.
Their alliance benefits Babis as well. Zeman may be useful for him because as president he signs bills to laws, appoints members of the Czech National Bank (CNB) board and other officials, and he can also support Babis against Sobotka, Pesek writes.
President Milos Zeman seems to be struggling for Finance Minister Andrej Babis more fiercely than Babis himself, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in Pravo, pointing to the support and praise Zeman has addressed to Babis.
In his search of strong men, Zeman has even crossed usual limits, Mitrofanov says in reaction to the letter of congratulations in which Zeman praised the newly re-elected Hungarian PM Viktor Orban as a genuine leader.
By his words, Zeman has indicated that he would like such politicians to take control of the Czech Republic as well, Mitrofanov writes.
Does he want them to use power to benefit their business allies and to maximally restrict the freedom of the media, as Orban has done in Hungary? Mitrofanov asks.
To gain voters´ support, both Zeman and Orban used the same method of provoking people´s fear of the foreign scene. True, the two differ in their approach to the EU. Unlike Zeman, Orban cannot do without fomenting hatred against the EU, but in the end he is always capable of reaching agreement with Brussels, Mitrofanov writes.
He who observes Zeman for a few minutes can see that the strength of Zeman, a former "wolf," has diminished, which is why he supports his favourites among the other beasts of prey, Mitrofanov adds.
Czech President Milos Zeman plans to emphasise at his meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen today that NATO should enter Ukraine if Russia did so, but Zeman should first consider the Czech military´s condition and readiness for such an action, Daniel Anyz writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN).
According to NATO´s latest assessment, the Czech Republic will not be able to assist in allied operations unless it raises its defence spending. However, the draft 2015 state budget outlines a further decline in the Czech spending on defence next year, Anyz writes.
In view of this, Rasmussen may appreciate Zeman´s boldness as the Czech military´s commander-in-chief, but at the same time he may label him as a general without an army, Anyz concludes.