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PM: EU action capability crucial against populism, extremism

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Prague, Jan 19 (CTK) – Doubts about the further fate of integration have been rising in Europe, as has been populism, nationalism and extremism, a situation where the EU’s action capability is and will be decisive, Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka told the foreign diplomatic corps at a meeting in Prague on Thursday.

The text of his speech has been conveyed to CTK by the government spokesman Martin Ayrer.

This was Sobotka’s third annual New Year meeting with the diplomats.

The decision by British citizens to leave the EU tended to arouse uncertainty, Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said.

He expressed concern at the “referendum result reflecting a new trend across the whole continent.”

“Doubts about the further fate of European integration have been growing. After all, we witnessed the rise in populism, nationalism and unfortunately also extremism not only in Europe but also elsewhere in the world during the past year,” Sobotka said.

The misuse of social networks and media to manipulate facts has intensified unprecedentedly as well, Sobotka said.

He mentioned last year’s terrorist attacks, including those committed by IS, and the fightings in Iraq and Syria, and said the Czech Republic wants to continue to enhance its internal security including steps to tackle the migration crisis and eliminate terrorism.

“We are an open country, culturally and economically interconnected with our foreign partners, mainly European countries. Only a stable economic environment and safety in the EU can create a space in our country for its further growth and development,” Sobotka said.

He said the Czech government puts emphasis on its foreign policy’s continuousness and predictability.

The national interest of the Czech Republic is its position as a country anchored in European structures. The guarantee of its prosperity and safety is the trans-Atlantic tie, Sobotka said.

At the same time, Prague uses strategic partnerships to deepen its cooperation with some countries in Asia and Africa, he said.

He called it a crucial task for the Czech Republic to further enhance its economic diplomacy as an instrument to boost Czech firms’ export and investment capacities in relation to abroad.

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