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Czech politicians condemn violence during Catalan referendum

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Prague, Oct 2 (CTK) – Czech politicians rejected on Monday the Spanish police’s hard steps during the Sunday referendum on the independence of Catalonia, which resulted in hundreds of wounded persons.

Deputy PM and Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek told CTK that disputes should not be solved by violence.

Both government ANO chairman Andrej Babis and and Chamber of Deputies head Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said the police crackdown in Catalonia was unacceptable.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) commented on the events in Catalonia in a more moderate way, calling the incidents with injuries unfortunate. He said he believed they would not repeat.

“I am an advocate of agreements and of following the rules. It is very unfortunate if disputes are being solved by violence,” said Belobradek, commenting on the course of the Catalan referendum that took place despite the central government’s resistance.

This is why the riot police tried to prevent voters from participating in the plebiscite. Some 850 people were injured in clashes with the police.

Exactly the police intervention and the number of injured people stirred up criticism both in Spain and abroad.

“The Spanish police intervention is absolutely unacceptable. Almost 900 casualties, including old and young people, women. Is this Europe in 2017?” Babis tweeted.

Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) tweeted that he considered the use of force a mistake.

He also opposed the separation of Catalonia from Spain.

The division of Spain, Belgium or Italy would not help ordinary people, it would only play into the hands of the background players, he added.

“I naturally consider the issues connected with the referendum on Spain’s territorial integrity an internal affair of the Spanish Kingdom and respect all decisions made by the Spanish authorities in this case. Nevertheless, I consider the Spanish police crackdown on those who tried to vote in the referendum completely unacceptable and I expect this to be investigated,” Hamacek told CTK.

Presidential candidates Michal Horacek and Jiri Drahos also commented on the events in Catalonia.

Horacek said the use of force would only escalate tension in the country, in his opinion.

Drahos expressed understanding for the Spanish government’s effort to prevent the anti-constitutional referendum. “However, the shooting of rubber bullets into the crowd is definitely a wrong step, and I condemn this,” he told CTK.

Czech MEPs, former president Vaclav Klaus and several deputies criticised the violence accompanying the independence referendum in Catalonia on Sunday.

MP Marek Zenisek (TOP 09) wrote on Facebook that he was no supporter of a unilateral declaration of independence and that he considered the referendum at variance with the constitution. However, he condemned the hard steps taken by the riot police forces.

“I do not assess the police intervention, but the brutality that was apparent and unnecessary today,” Zenisek wrote, adding that both parties must return to a dialogue as the only reasonable solution.

The Catalan authorities say some 2.26 million voters took part in the Sunday referendum, while about 90 percent of them voted for independence. Turnout was 42.3 percent out of the total number of 5.34 million voters.

The Catalan government was to debate further steps yesterday. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, facing the most serious constitutional crisis in his country in the past ten years, plans to meet main representatives of the government People’s Party and other senior officials in the meantime.

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