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Trans-Atlantic ties need to be deepened – Czech PM in USA

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Washington, March 31 (CTK) – It is crucial to deepen trans-Atlantic ties and it is dangerous and short-sighted to take the trans-Atlantic partnership for granted, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in his address in the Brookings Institution think tank yesterday.
As voices challenging the trans-Atlantic partnership can be heard on both sides of the Atlantic, interest in the developments on both sides and readiness to listen to one another needs to be encouraged, he said.
In a 15-minute speech delivered in his mother tongue, Sobotka said this was also the reason why he was visiting the United States.
Last week, before the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Prague, Czech President Milos Zeman told Chinese Central Television (CCTV) that the previous Czech government ruling in 2010-2013 was subjected to the pressure exerted by the USA and the EU. Zeman said a restart of Chinese-Czech relations was possible now that the Czech Republic was an independent state once again and did not meddle in the affairs of other countries.
Sobotka said yesterday the deepening of the trans-Atlantic ties and cooperation with NATO are one of Europe’s main priorities.
He said he cannot imagine the European security architecture without NATO.
The strategic partnership between the EU and the USA should concern not only defence and security but also other spheres.
In the debate following his address, Sobotka supported the view that the defence budgets of EU countries should be gradually increased.
Trans-Atlantic cooperation is also needed when tackling situations such as the crises in Syria and Libya and the consequent wave of refugees streaming to Europe, Sobotka said.
He said the fear Europeans feel in connection with migration is justified to a certain extent.
Sobotka said the biggest problem of the EU is that it is in a state of permanent crisis management and that it is unable to observe its own rules.
He also talked about Brexit, Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, and the European vision of late Czech president Vaclav Havel based on universal respect for human rights, political pluralism and freedom of choice.

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