Sunday, 16 December 2018

Zeman says Czechs are irrationally afraid of euro adoption

ČTK |
23 June 2017

Prague, June 22 (CTK) - People in the Czech Republic are irrationally afraid of the adoption of the euro, President Milos Zeman said today and added that the euro would only bring a change to the instrument for measuring economic phenomena and that it would not affect Czech sovereignty either.

Speaking at the Zofin Forum on the Czech National Interest, Zeman also focused on migration.

He said he is afraid the politicians who today reject accepting migrants will change their mind after the general election and allow their admission.

A general election will be held on October 20-21.

"The Czech Republic has been ready for joining the euro zone for almost ten years, we have been fulfilling the Maastricht criteria, but there is a mental barrier to its adoption. A mere 30 percent of Czechs are in favour of entering the euro zone," Zeman said.

Slovakia, which together with the Czech Republic formed Czechoslovakia until the end of 1992, introduced the euro in January 2009.

Zeman said 70 percent of Slovaks support the EU single currency.

"The Slovak government did not launch a referendum (on the euro adoption), it acted based on that the commitment to adopt the euro is part of the accession treaty. It in a way enforced the euro on the Slovak economy against the will of its citizens. And now, look at the result," Zeman said.

Zeman, who is opposed to accepting migrants, said the European Union should be making decisions unanimously.

The Czech Republic and a few other countries were outvoted on the mandatory quotas for the redistribution of migrants across the EU.

Zeman said he can see certain similarities between the term of limited sovereignty, which was a part of the doctrine of the Soviet Union's communist leader Leonid Brezhnev, and the term of shared sovereignty, which the European Union is pushing through.

He said he can see similarities, not identical features.

Zeman said measures in the EU should be implemented based on consensus, not by force, even though this requires more time for negotiating.

He said this principle has been breached in the migrant quotas and the demand for a higher share of renewable sources in the energy mix.

Zeman said the Czech politicians who "show their muscles" before the election and say they are opposed to accepting people entering the country illegally, will kowtow to the EU after the election and allow the accepting of refugees. They will only ask the European Union for the accepting of migrants being based not on a directive, but on a recommendation that they will "meet and exceed."

In an answer to a question, Zeman said being an advocate of direct democracy, he would support a referendum on the Czech Republic's staying in the EU.

He said after he has spent 25 years in politics, he is of the view that the citizens' intelligence is higher than the politicians' and that is why they should make decisions on fundamental questions.

Zeman said he himself would vote against the withdrawal because he would consider this cowardice.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD), who is attending an EU summit in Brussels, said there are no social, economic, security, strategic or any other relevant reasons for holding a referendum on leaving the EU.

"On the contrary, we should make use of being EU members, of having real influence on what is going on in the EU, on changing the Union, on improving its operation. This we can only do from the inside, not from the outside," Sobotka said.

At the end of his speech, Zeman said sovereignty must be fought for. He said not kowtowing to anyone, being friendly, accommodating and ready for negotiating, but never surrendering is the most important.

ms/dr/kva

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