The American secretary of state does not routinely travel to the Czech Republic. When he does, it is more than just a courtesy call. A desultory courtesy call did take place within the framework of Mike Pompeo’s visit, but this was only with President Miloš Zeman, and it was very brief. This was as much as either party could stand.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has divulged that Zeman, upon meeting the American secretary of state, declared that he, the Czech president, was not an agent of Russia or of China, but that he was for world peace and against terrorism. Pompeo was no doubt greatly impressed.
While the American secretary left no room for doubt about the stance of the U.S. toward Russia and China, Babiš remained true to form. When Pompeo declared that the Czech Republic should disqualify Russia, a hostile state, from participation in the bidding process to complete the Dukovany nuclear power station, Babiš made vague equivocations. However, once the secretary had vanished over the horizon, Babiš made it clear that he would not comply with this request.
The prime minister was putting on a little dance in the rain. Its essence − spinelessness. Babiš gives lip service to North Atlantic civilization, but is himself an example of what a statesman of this civilization should not be. When the moment of truth comes, it will become clear that he is not able to cut the umbilical cord that binds him to the past, and hence to Russia, which is involved in that past.
At the same time, Babiš also declared that he is shocked by what is going on in Belarus. Either he is truly naive, or he is pretending to be. A prime minister is required to know what is going on in countries that belong to the larger region in which his state lies. Violence and torture are common not only in Belarus, but also in Russia. In 2019 the Russian attorney general admitted publicly that torture by the police and in prisons was a common occurrence in half of the constituent regions of the Russian Federation. Videos of the sadistic treatment of suspects and prisoners are readily available.
Of course, Babiš faced the following criticism from Daniel Pawlas, member of Parliament for the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia: “At a group news conference, Prime Minister Babiš agreed with Pompeo that Russia is trying to destroy democracy and break up the Western alliance. Coming from someone who likes to claim that as a businessman he always maintains objectivity, these words sound silly. He should be ashamed of them before the citizens of this republic.” However, this Communist criticism was premature, as shown by later events.
At a congress of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia in 2016, [Leader] Vojtěch Filip declared that the guarantors of world peace are the Russian Federation, the Chinese People’s Republic and “dynamically developing Iran.” So then, what Pawlas had to say was nothing new. By his statement, however, he unintentionally emphasized the question of where Babiš really stands − with the U.S. or with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. While performing his little dances in the rain, Babiš catches what is thrown to him as a reward − overripe cherries.*
*Translator’s note: The symbol of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia is a pair of ripe cherries.