Thursday, 2 April 2020

Schwarzenberg: Post-Brexit EU to miss English way of thinking

ČTK |
5 September 2016

Vienna, Sept 3 (CTK) - Britain's forthcoming departure from the EU is a political catastrophe, former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) says in an interview with Austrian newspaper Die Presse am Sonntag and also warns against Russia as a potential hegemon in Europe.

Schwarzenberg, 78, who was foreign minister in 2007-2009 and 2010-2013, said the unwillingness by Czechs to accept refugees may also be connected with the absence of the sea.

Without the United Kingdom, it would be "a sad sight" of the EU, and vice versa, Schwarzenberg said.

The EU will miss the English style of thinking, including "a delight at the opposite opinion."

"Europe, which will be determined by French centralism...that will be implemented with German accuracy, fills me with horror," Schwarzenberg told the paper.

He said the unwillingness of a large part of Czechs to accept refugees also stems from the fact that the Czech Republic is an inland state.

"Portugal and the Czech Republic each have a population of roughly the same size. However, in the past, when the Portuguese sailed as far as the Persian Gulf, Angola, Mozambique, Brazil and India, Czech tradesmen went to Nuremberg at the most, and the most courageous of them reached Venice. The consequences of this still persist. The communist period completely closed us [in our country] again," Schwarzenberg said, referring to Czechs.

He said Europe's golden era has been long over.

True, no big war can be expected in Europe, but smaller conflicts in the framework of individual countries will be occurring, he said.

Schwarzenberg criticised European politicians for paying insufficient attention to the conflict in Ukraine.

"If Russia succeeded in subduing Ukraine somehow again, it would be clear who will become the 21st-century hegemon in Europe," Schwarzenberg warned.

He criticised Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who recently called for discontinuation of the EU accession talks with Turkey.

Neither of the two addressed their statements outwards, but towards the "domestic electorate," Schwarzenberg said.

Austrian commentators, too, previously pointed out that Kern and Kurz toughened their approach to Turkey in reaction to the rising popularity of the rightist populist Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe).

In this connection, Schwarzenberg said Kurz showed "an inclination to populism."

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