Prague - The purest solution for Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) would be to stop his business activities and concentrate on politics, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said today reacting to the criticism of Babis by Ingeborg Graessle, from the European Parliament (EP).
Ministr financí Andrej Babiš (vlevo) a premiér Bohuslav Sobotka na schůzi Poslanecké sněmovny 4. února v Praze. ČTK Šulová Kateřina
Graessle, member of the EP budgetary control committee, criticised businessman Babis on Thursday, claiming that his firms have received 2.6 million euros from European funds and that he should give up his firms as minister not to be in conflict of interests.
Graessle and other EP committee members arrived in the Czech Republic to check mistakes in the use of EU funds.
"From the point of view of purity, in order to avoid questions of a possible conflict of interests, it would definitely be simplest for Mr Babis to end his business activities and continue to focus on politics only," Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said at a press conference.
"If Mr Babis decides not to terminate his business activities, and they are relatively broad - starting with agriculture and ending with the media sphere - then he must naturally be really very careful not to get into a conflict of interests," Sobotka said.
He added that Babis must expect he will be under media control.
Babis, reacting to Graessle´s statement, told CTK that he is not considering abandoning his firms.
"I am accountable to my voters, not to Graessle who does not have the correct information. I do observe the law on the conflict of interests," Babis said.
In reply to a journalist´s question, Sobotka returned to a recent criticism of the online server Echo24 by Babis.
"This was something that is by no means part of the government´s policy and just as the statements by (justice) minister Helena Valkova about what was going here during World War TWo, it is a problem of Mr Babis and of the ANO movement," Sobotka said.
Valkova, nominated to the government by ANO, told Echo24 recently that "nothing terrible" happened to the Czechs during World War Two.
She later said in a press release she compared the situation with that in Poland or the Soviet Union and that she considers inexcusable what happened during the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.