Andrej Babis, the former Czech prime minister and presidential candidate, during a debate in Benesov, Czech Republic, January 19, 2023. PETR DAVID JOSEK / AP
A stone’s throw from the Hradec Kralove congress centre, Bozena (a borrowed first name) is disappointed not to welcome her champion. The populist candidate Andrej Babis had planned to hold in this city of 90,000 inhabitants, a hundred kilometers east of Prague, a campaign rally on Tuesday January 24, before canceling everything. The former prime minister, narrowly defeated in the 2021 legislative elections, said he had received a death threat a few hours earlier and wanted to protect his “immediate entourage”, blaming a climate of fear and intimidation.
The campaign diary held up by Bozena depicts a smiling Andrej Babis who “fights for the Czech Republic”. From January 15, the day after the first round, which he lost by 0.4 points against his rival, Petr Pavel, a newcomer to politics and a former soldier, Andrej Babis did not hesitate to use the argument of peace, in the context of the war in Ukraine. He immediately displayed himself on the placards with these words: “I will not drag the Czech Republic into the war. I am a diplomat, not a soldier. A direct allusion to his adversary, former chief of staff, accused of “rolling” for the war.
“Yes, we must continue to help Ukraine, but at the same time we must talk about peace. Of a ceasefire (…) Mr. Pavel declared that peace is an illusion. But we have had peace in Europe since the Second World War. And now the war is close to us, ”former head of government told online media Denik N. Andrej Babis has repeatedly announced that he wants to organize a conference on peace, highlighting his contacts with the French president. , Emmanuel Macron, and with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Military aid provided to Kyiv
In his race for the second round, Andrej Babis kept having the word “peace” in his mouth. Even if it means tripping over the carpet during the presidential debate on Sunday, January 22. Asked whether the Czech Republic would send its troops in the event of an attack on Poland or the Baltic countries, the candidate replied: “I am not the commander-in-chief, and if I was, no, certainly not (…) I think we have to talk about peace. »
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Taken up by the presenter who reminded him of the obligation of assistance between the members of NATO in the event of aggression by one of them, Mr. Babis persisted: “Yes, but I do not want war . “A few moments later, on Twitter, the person concerned returned to his remarks specifying that he would fulfill this obligation under Article 5 of the Alliance, “there is no debate on that”.
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