Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Schwarzenberg: Deeper integration of Czech right wing needed

ČTK |
24 November 2017

Prague, Nov 23 (CTK) - A deeper integration of the Czech right wing is needed but this is a big challenge and a lot of effort would be required for such a project to be completed, TOP 09 honorary chairman Karel Schwarzenberg told CTK, referring to the recent formation of the Democratic Bloc in parliament.

"I hope that further cooperation will follow if this first step proves successful. But I know that it is a very hard task," Schwarzenberg, 79, said in an interview with CTK.

The Civic Democrats (ODS), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), TOP 09 and Mayors and Independents (STAN) formed the opposition Democratic Bloc in the lower house of the Czech parliament last week in order to jointly proceed at the house's constituent session that started on Monday. The bloc has 48 MPs in the 200-seat house.

Schwarzenberg said a lot of prejudices between the centrist and right-wing parties would have to be overcome and this would take a long time. "It is an unfortunate Czech tradition that we like to split and fight. But this is essential. I hope that all the parties are aware of it," he said about the need to form a political pact.

Schwarzenberg said he felt very sorry that the alliance of TOP 09 and the STAN ended in 2016. It was a mistake for both parties, he added.

TOP 09 and the STAN started cooperating in 2009, shortly after TOP 09 was founded.

Schwarzenberg said he also regretted that TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek, its founder, was leaving his post after the election failure. "It seems right to me for a responsible chairman to leave after the party's election failure," he said.

He regretted it since he considered Kalousek the best speaker in the Chamber of Deputies, but he said politics was "a tough business."

TOP 09 defended only seven out of its 26 seats in the lower house in the general election held in October. Schwarzenberg is one of its seven MPs.

Schwarzenberg said TOP 09 did not develop outside Prague, especially in the countryside. He said voters were looking for new faces in politics and these were offered by the ANO movement, the Pirates and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD). In TOP 09, deputy chairwoman Marketa Pekarova Adamova, 33, and MP Dominik Feri, 21, were young talented politicians, he said.

Schwarzenberg, former foreign minister, said he believed he could play the role of an elder statesman to whom the younger politicians would listen from time to time.

He said TOP 09 also defended unpopular positions such as support for deeper European integration and adoption of the euro and it did not fit into the anti-migrant moods.

Schwarzenberg said a possible government of ANO of Andrej Babis, the anti-EU SPD of Tomio Okamura and the anti-NATO Communists would harm the country's reputation, but he believes that it would not lead the Czech Republic out of the EU and NATO.

Even in the ANO movement there are many reasonable MPs who would prevent this from happening together with the opposition, he said.

He said he had not expected that ANO controlled by billionaire Babis would have accepted support from the two extremist parties.

On Wednesday, the three parties joined forces in the elections of the lower house chairman, Radek Vondracek (ANO), and the head of the lower house mandate and immunity committee, Stanislav Grospic (KSCM). Democratic politicians said this indicated that the possible next minority government of Babis was likely to win support from the SPD and the KSCM, thus gaining a majority in the lower house.

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