New Czech FM to target Chinese investments

The Czech President is believed to be willing to block the formation of the new Czech government just to prevent Lipavský from becoming the foreign minister. [EPA-EFE/MADOKA IKEGAMI]

Czechia’s likely next Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates, Greens/EFA affiliated) wants to change the course of the country’s foreign policy and prioritise human rights over economic interests.

EURACTIV.cz has learnt that Lipavský has become a thorn in the side of Czech President Miloš Zeman, who is well-known for his pro-Russian and pro-Chinese stances. Zeman is even believed to be willing to block the formation of the new Czech government just to prevent Lipavský from becoming the foreign minister.

Lipavský, a former vice-chair of the Czech Parliament’s foreign and defence committees, has always been critical of the involvement of Russian and Chinese companies in crucial Czech infrastructure projects, including planned nuclear units.

“China remains an important trade partner. However, China cannot be seen anymore as an important partner when it comes to foreign investments,” Lipavský said in a recent interview for Deník N.

“Specific activities undertaken by Russia or China at Czech territory could be defined as hostile or as threats. For example, the Vrbětice case (ammunition deposit blast caused by Russian agents in 2014), Chinese activities in the Czech academic sphere or the establishment of influential networks working for these powers on our territory,” Lipavský added.

Lipavský emphasised that human rights have to be prioritised over business interests and economic diplomacy. In past years, he was among the leading proponents of the so-called Magnitsky Act.

Zeman is expected to name the future Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS, ECR) on Friday (26 November). Fiala has already published the list of ministerial candidates.

“I presented to Mr President the proposal of future ministers that is based on our coalition agreement. I consider this proposal of good quality, and I am not thinking about any changes,” Fiala said.

The President’s approval is a necessary step to form the government. Czech constitutional lawyers pointed out that if Zeman refuses to appoint the government, Fiala should ask the Constitutional Court to solve the situation.

(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)

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