Prague, Sept 13 (CTK) – Czech PM Andrej Babis (ANO) will ask the ANO MEPs why they backed the recommendation for the EU to launch a procedure against Hungary over a threat to EU values in the EP vote, he said today.
He added that he considers this unnecessary in a situation where the last say is up to the EU states’ leaders.
Babis told journalists that Europe should not split, since the problems it faces lie elsewhere. It should solve issues such as Brexit, Babis said.
President Milos Zeman called the voting of some Czech MEPs for launching an EU procedure against Hungary the lack of solidarity within Visegrad Four (V4) Group, comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
“This is the lack of solidarity, in this case solidarity with Hungary,” Zeman told Barrandov TV tonight.
Out of the 21 Czech MEPs, the launch of a sanction procedure against Hungary was supported by the four MEPs elected for ANO, all three elected for TOP 09, Mayor and Independents’ (STAN) Stanislav Polcak and Miroslav Poche, one of the MEPs elected for the Czech Social Democrats (CSSD).
Babis said everyone is speaking of European values.
“We have freedom and democracy, a project that bought peace to us,” he said, adding that the EU should return to its genuine essence.
“We do have the values. If some say something about Poland and Hungary, and if some say I pose a threat to democracy, I must laugh at this,” said Babis, a billionaire who transferred his chemical, food, agricultural and media empire on trust fund onto compliance with the conflict of interest law last year.
He said the EU’s problems lie elsewhere.
“We have a problem with Brexit. If Europe is permanently splitting, this is wrong. We should have a joint aim,” he said.
Next year’s elections to the EP might bring about a change, he said.
Babis said he has not yet talked to ANO MEPs on why they backed the proposed anti-Hungary procedure.
He labelled “traitors” Pavel Telicka and Petr Jezek, two MEPs elected for ANO who have fallen out with ANO in the meantime.
The other two ANO MEPs, Dita Charanzova and Martina Dlabajova, have been working very well, Babis said.
“Of course, I will ask them why they voted this way, because it was unnecessary, since the issue will be decided on by the European Council, not the EP,” Babis said.
Telicka, who is the EP Vice President, has raised an objection to Babis’s criticism.
“I do not understand why to label not only me, but also the MEPs from his own party as traitors and why to contribute to the wave of aggression that is spreading via social networks. I have not deviated from the original programme (of ANO for European elections),” Telicka said on Twitter.
Telicka also refused to connect the criticism of Hungary with Hungary’s decision not to accept migrants.
“There are other alarming matters, such as restrictions of constitutional court powers and restrictions of the freedom of media and the activities of non-profit organisations,” Telicka said.
Jezek, on the other hand, said he did not feel offended by Chamber of Deputies chairman Radek Vondracek (ANO) having distanced himself from his vote, since he was no longer an MEP for ANO, but that Babis’ words about traitors touched him.”
He added that he did not like the aggressive rhetorics that appeared in the Czech Republic after the EP vote.
“I am alarmed at the level of debate opened in the Czech Republic… It only confirms that the development in our country goes in a very undesirable direction,” Jezek said in a statement for CTK.
The EP vote is the result of long-term developments, Jezek said, referring to reports on the situation in Hungary.
The sanction proceedings against Budapest might theoretically result in stripping Hungary of its voting rights, but observers do not expect it to go that far, since this step would require an unanimous consent of all EU members, while Budapest can rely on support from Poland, which faces similar criticism itself.