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Turkey is still Czech ally in NATO, says foreign minister

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Prague, April 17 (CTK) – Turkey is standing on the threshold of vital political change, but it remains an important partner for the Czech Republic and the EU, and an ally in NATO, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said on Monday commenting on the Sunday Turkish referendum on more powers for the president.

Further developments in Turkey must be carefully watched, Zaoralek said.

Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek, leader of the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), said Turks had chosen their own way, but the EU would keep its approach to Turkey.

Belobradek stressed the narrow result of the vote.

Marek Cernoch, chairman of the deputy group of the opposition Dawn party, speaks about the introduction of presidential absolutism and dictatorship.

The proposal to change the constitution in order to largely increase the powers of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was passed by a narrow majority of 51.4 percent.

The Turkish opposition says the vote was rigged and demands its cancellation.

“There is the question of how this country will come to terms with the divide in which one half wants to preserve a secular democracy with pluralism, while the other voted for a leader’s regime with Islamic elements,” Belobradek told CTK on Monday.

He pointed out that the EU had signed agreements on privileged partnership and restriction of migration with Turkey.

“It is in the interest of both sides to keep observing the agreements,” he added.

Since Turkey strongly depends on the EU economically, Turks would be sensibly hit if the links were severed, Belobradek said.

Cernoch said he expected presidential absolutism and dictatorship to be installed in Turkey. This will mean “persecution of the opposition and end of the secular state,” he added.

The strained relations between the EU and Turkey will now even worsen, Cernoch said.

“In practice, this will mean the end of any agreements and we must be prepared for the situation in which thousands of illegal migrants will start flocking again from Turkey. We must not rely on Turkey,” Cernoch said.

The leader of the opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Petr Fiala, pointed out the division of the country, as shown by the narrow result of the vote.

“Turkey’s road to the EU is all but impossible with this,” Fiala told CTK on Sunday.

Tomio Okamura (Freedom and Direct Democracy) said a real democracy was not, is not and will not be in Turkey because it is impossible in the Islamic world.

“The past efforts at Turkey’s joining the EU were only a sign of the agony of the collapsed project of European integration,” Okamura said.

Given Turkey’s membership of NATO, an authoritarian regime in Turkey questions the role of the alliance when defending democracy, he added.

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