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Opposition TOP 09 head rules out cooperation with ANO

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Prague, June 1 (CTK) – The Czech opposition right-wing TOP 09 rules out its cooperation with the ANO movement after the autumn general election no matter if its chairman Andrej Babis were in such a coalition or not, TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek said in an interview with CTK on Thursday.

The failure of TOP 09’s initiative to create a block of parties “from the centre to the right” before the elections was mainly caused by the parties seriously considering governing with ANO and Babis, Kalousek said.

Babis, his former concern Agrofert, which he transferred to trust funds in February to comply with a new conflict of interest law, and ANO are an indivisible organism, Kalousek said.

This is why he disagrees with the view that there would be a difference between ANO being and not being represented by Babis in a possible government coalition.

Along with the Communists (KSCM), ANO is the only of the entities that wants to change the system of liberal democracy in the Czech Republic into “a system with much more autocratic and oligarchistic elements,” Kalousek pointed out.

“No democratic party should cooperate in this. This is our stance, we are the only ones to put it absolutely clearly,” he added.

Kalousek also said he would connect his future at the party’s helm with the results of the October general election.

TOP 09 will elect its new leadership at its autumn congress to be held after the elections.

Kalousek said by the elections, he would focus on the election campaign in which TOP 09 would prefer socials networks and a door-to-door campaign.

Along with its long-term priorities, such as a pension reform, defining the above-standard health care (not covered by public insurance), and the introduction of tuition at universities, TOP 09 would like to address voters with its proposals in the education and science and research spheres, Kalousek said.

He also told CTK that TOP 09 supported the adoption of the euro single European currency in the Czech Republic as soon as possible. The euro zone membership will delineate the border within the multi-speed Europe in the future, he stressed.

There is no time to hesitate with the euro adoption for political reasons since the Czech Republic should not end in “the slow line,” he said.

Babis rejected the country’s entry into the euro zone in an interview with CTK on Wednesday. The Czech Republic should not join the euro zone as it would have to be responsible for foreign debts in such a case and it would lose its currency, which is one of the instruments that help manage economic crises, he said.

The opposition right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) are also apposed to the euro adoption.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said in May the country should set the date for the euro adoption and this decision should be made by the next government. If the country does not adopt the euro, it may be pushed away from the EU core, he added.

The Czech Republic pledged to adopt the euro when it joined the European Union in 2004.

Kalousek also commented on President Milos Zeman and other presidential candidates in the interview with CTK.

Zeman will be striving for playing the strongest possible role after the autumn general election also because he will be defending his mandate three months later, in January 2018, and it will be up to the democratic parties’ resolution whether they will enable him this, Kalousek said.

Out of the current presidential candidates, Jiri Drahos, former head of the Science Academy (AV), meets TOP 09’s criteria in the best way.

Kalousek refused to speculate about other parties hesitating to support another presidential candidate to keep good relations with Zeman after the elections.

He only reiterated that TOP 09 would never cooperate with the KSCM and ANO, with or without Babis, after the elections.

TOP 09 has four simple criteria for a presidential candidate, Kalousek said.

“We want the candidate to be a democrat, respect the constitution and constitutional habits, to unambiguously show the country’s orientation towards the West and not to constantly puzzle our allies in the European Union and NATO by his statements. We are sure that the Czech Republic belongs to the heart of Europe and not to the buttocks of Asia. The last criterion is that the president must not disgrace the Czech Republic in the world,” Kalousek told CTK.

Zeman meets none of these criteria, he added.

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