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Andrej Babis Czech tycoon's new cabinet vows to fight migration

Czech billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis vowed on Wednesday to fight illegal migration as the mogul was given his second shot at forming a government in six months.

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Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis vowed to fight illegal migration following the appointment of his new government, warning "nobody will tell us who will live or work in this country" play

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis vowed to fight illegal migration following the appointment of his new government, warning "nobody will tell us who will live or work in this country"

(AFP)

Czech billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis vowed on Wednesday to fight illegal migration as the mogul was given his second shot at forming a government in six months.

Migration is a hot issue for the 10.6 million people in the republic, an EU and NATO member, although very few migrants ended up here in the wake of Europe's 2015 migrant crisis.

Both Babis and Czech President Milos Zeman rejected EU refugee quotas, with the openly anti-Muslim head of state winning a second five-year term in a January election campaigning on a "stop migrants" ticket.

"Our government will fight for the safety of our citizens, especially against illegal migration and to protect our interests in Europe," Babis said during a ceremony in Prague at which Zeman named the new cabinet.

Babis said his administration would also target "corruption, waste and bureaucracy".

Eastern EU states allied in the Visegrad group including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have all refused to accept migrants within the EU's controversial quota system.

Border controls?

Leaders from the four nations did not attend emergency EU talks in Brussels on Sunday in a bid to break the migrant deadlock.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is hoping his new coalition government will win a confidence vote in parliament expected on July 11 play

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is hoping his new coalition government will win a confidence vote in parliament expected on July 11

(AFP)

A full EU summit is scheduled for Thursday and Friday as German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces an ultimatum from her hardline interior minister to find an EU deal to curb new arrivals by the end of June.

"Germany has changed its rhetoric, which is interesting -- Interior Minister (Horst) Seehofer has even mentioned border controls," said Babis on Wednesday.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz "clearly told me that if Seehofer closes the border, Austria will follow suit and we will then have to react," he added.

"Nobody will tell us who will live or work in this country," the 63-year-old farm, chemicals and media tycoon said.

Ahead of a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Saturday, Babis called the French proposal to slap financial sanctions on EU members refusing to take in migrants "very negative and unacceptable".

Communist backing

Babis's new cabinet comprises ten members of his populist ANO (Yes) movement and five Social Democrats (CSSD), but a parliamentary confidence vote on the new cabinet expected on July 11 could still fail without the informal backing from the Communist party.

It has signalled it will support him in exchange for positions in large state-owned enterprises but will take a final decision on backing Babis on Saturday.

Its agreement could give the staunchly pro-Russian Communists a role in government, albeit an informal one, for the first time since the collapse of the communist regime in the 1989 Velvet Revolution in former Czechoslovakia.

ANO won 78 seats in the 200-member parliament campaigning on an anti-corruption ticket in the October 2017 election, but Babis has struggled to form a coalition.

Potential partners snubbed him over his Communist past and criminal charges he is facing for alleged fraud. He has denied any wrongdoing.

His first attempt at forming a cabinet ended in January when his minority government of ANO members and unaffiliated experts failed to garner enough support in parliament.

But the cabinet was allowed to continue governing in a caretaker capacity.

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