Czech Republic: Babiš off the hook?

The "Stork's Nest" affair in which Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is under investigation for fraud involving EU subsidies has taken a surprising turn: the prosecutor's office has dropped the case. The decision contradicts the findings of the EU, however it is not yet definitive. Czech media doubt this will be the end of the affair.

Open/close all quotes
Echo24 (CZ) /

EU takes a different view of the case

Unlike the Czech state attorney, the European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) is convinced that Babiš is guilty, Echo24 points out:

“The Stork's Nest [conference centre] was part of a large company and was not entitled to receive subsidies. The beneficiary used the money for Stork's Nest in violation of the regulations, and thus damaged the interests of the EU and the taxpayers, the Olaf contends. The Olaf's assessment is definitive and the European Commission has demanded that the money be returned. The Czech Republic could have filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice - but it didn't exercise this option.”

Právo (CZ) /

The country's image could be restored

Právo talks of an abrupt turnaround in the spectacular case:

“If Babiš didn't do anything wrong that would be good news for everyone. The Czech Republic's international reputation would improve, Babiš's party Ano would have a broader choice of coalition partners through parties that have so far refused to work with a prime minister who is under investigation. There would be the chance of a majority cabinet that isn't dependent on the tolerance of left or right-wing extremists. ... But for such an ideal situation to arise the prime minister's rehabilitation must be credible and transparent.”