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Saturday 2nd
posted by Morning Star in World

PM ‘doesn’t envisage any referendum on EU or Nato’

THE Czech government rebuked President Milos Zeman yesterday after he called for referendums on EU and Nato membership.

“I disagree with those who are for leaving the European Union but I will do everything for them to have a referendum and be able to express themselves,” he said at a meeting on Thursday, according to Czech radio.

“The same goes for a Nato exit too,” he added.

But the government said “it does not envisage any referendum,” citing EU and Nato membership as “a guarantee of stability and security.”

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s spokesman said: “The government is not considering taking any steps which would question in any way our membership and the long-term orientation of the Czech Republic’s foreign policy.”

Acting Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo also weighed in, calling the suggestion “a very bad idea.”

Czech satisfaction with EU membership fell to 25 per cent in an April poll, down from 32 per cent the year before.

In neighbouring Slovakia, the far-right People’s Party launched a petition yesterday to hold referendums on EU and Nato membership, just as the country assumed the rotating EU presidency.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Thursday that the bloc was dominated by founding states including France, Germany and Italy, who should listen to newer members.

“The crucial decisions on the future of Europe cannot be defined by the decisions of one or two member states, or by the founding member states.”

Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak said bureaucratic institutions like the European Commission wielded too much power.

“Policy should be driven by the member states and the commission should turn it into legislation,” he said. “This is where citizens live, they don’t live in the institutions.”

n Meanwhile a Hungarian court sentenced 10 refugees to jail for illegally crossing the border during a riot in September 2015 after Hungary erected a fence along its border with Serbia.

Nine defendants were sentenced to a year each, but were released as the judge cut their terms by two-thirds and took time on remand into account.

But one was handed a three-year sentence for issuing instructions to rioters through a loudspeaker. Both the prosecution and defence are appealing the ruling.