Prague should present its interest without undermining EU, foreign minister says


Prague, Aug 28 (CTK) – The Czech Republic should be able to formulate its interest in the EU but without undermining Europe, and it should back the search for compromises and keep its sober approach that may benefit Europe, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said at a meeting of Czech ambassadors today.

The week-long meeting started in the seat of the Foreign Ministry this morning.

Zaoralek mentioned last year’s apprehensions that the British decision to leave the EU might be followed by the departures of other EU members in 2017.

“At present, all of us probably feel that nothing like this has happened, that the year 2017 differs from 2016,” Zaoralek said.

The dynamic of the developments has recently become hard to predict, he said.

Although the Austrian as well as Dutch elections’ results were favourable for Europe, the EU still faces the departure of one of its most important members, Zaoralek said.

“Europe’s unity is our interest for the future, by no means is it a matter-of-course and it has been jeopardised by a number of differences. That is why it is important to meet at a round table after the elections to answer the question of what integration path we prefer,” Zaoralek said, referring to the Czech general election due on October 20-21.

“After reaching consensus on certain ideas, we will have to persuade the citizens about them,” Zaoralek said.

He said Europe has been dangerously splitting into the East and the West, and also into the South and the North.

“This is no academic debate,” he warned.

He said the EU is a technocratic and bureaucratic project that is not based on the search for compromises.

“We have to learn striking compromises. Centrifugal tendencies are quite strong, which is why I believe that it pays to take effort in building [mutual] confidence and seeking compromises,” Zaoralek said.

In European debates, the Czech Republic should be able to formulate its interest, but it should not undermine the joint project, he continued.

“The main task is not to implement things but to create, renew and invent,” he said.

Czech soberness is an element that may help fill the trenches between the South and the North on the one side, and the East and the West on the other, Zaoralek said.

Like PM Bohuslav Sobotka in the preceding speech, Zaoralek stressed the need of the EU’s further enlargement.

“The EU accession process in the [Balkans] region has been stagnating, which has a negative impact on these countries where some players promote their own different visions,” Zaoralek said.

It is of crucial importance to keep the idea of the EU entry prospect in the minds of citizens in the Balkans, he said.

rtj/dr/pv