Babiš visiting the USA

Analysis of Trump and Babiš meeting

Echo24 is the first Czech media outlet to run a reconstruction of the interview between Trump and Babiš which took place last week at the White House. First of all, a surprise is what they did not discuss, namely the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant.

The last time the Czech PM was at the White House (Petr Nečas in October 2011), the forthcoming completion of Temelín, in which American Westinghouse was interested, dominated the talks with the US president. Meanwhile, the construction of two reactors in Temelín was postponed, and neither Trump nor anyone else from the US side talked about the matter. Only Babiš briefly mentioned Temelín and Westinghouse as a potential candidate in some future tender.

Currently, cybersecurity, China, and international trade are major issues for the US. Thus trade, tariffs, Trump's disputes with China and the European Union formed the meeting. Babiš surprised Trump when he said that the main Czech export commodity is not glass, but cars. And he continued that not only for the Czech Republic but for the entire Visegrad Group, it would not be good if the US imposed higher tariffs on cars from the European Union. The PM mentioned this point repeatedly. It would be good, Babiš recommended, if the US negotiated a trade with the EU in the summer, that will be, after the European Parliamentary elections in May.

At the same time, Babiš made it implicitly clear that regarding international trade, inside the EU, the Czech Republic would stand on the side of the more sensible ones who want to agree with America. Trump, on the other hand, suggested that we shouldn't worry about it in Central Europe. He considered higher EU tariffs for American products to be unfair and complained about Jean-Claude Juncker, whom he called a "cold-blooded killer", probably in exaggeration.

Vice President Mike Pence defended US business interests. He pointed out to the Czechs to not to forget that they could buy helicopters for the Czech army from American producers. Trump also mentioned importing US liquefied gas (LNG) to Europe and criticized Germany for the Nordstream II pipeline, which he considers a security problem. Babiš stood up for Germans and mentioned the matter of price, saying that Russian gas is simply cheaper. Babiš added that the security aspect is already being dealt with by the Polish terminal in Świnoujście, where Americans carry their LNG supplies and from where Czechs might also take it. Babiš also offered the Czech Republic to Americans as a preferred security partner in Europe after Poland.

We must admit that Babiš played his part quite well. He did not forget anything important and offered Prague as a place for important international negotiations, namely mentioning possible peace talks on Syria. Babiš emphasized to Trump that the Czech Republic has the same immigration policy as he does and has not accepted "any refugee", which Trump appreciated.

Finally, Babiš handed Trump a copy of the letter, in which he allegedly expressed his support for Trump in the summer of 2016, before the presidential election. The US president said that the copy made him even more happy than the officially gifted pistol from Česká zbrojovka. That was it. And Babiš, who was visibly nervous before the meeting, seemed equally visibly relieved after it.

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