Prague, Sept 13 (CTK) – Czech lower house head Radek Vondracek (ANO) distanced himself today from the ANO MEPs’ position in the EP when they voted for the EU to launch a procedure against Hungary over a serious threat to EU values on Wednesday.
Today’s session of the Czech Chamber of Deputies touched on the Hungarian affair within its debate on the EU financial outlook for 2021-27.
The EP passed the above recommendation to the EU by a comfortable majority of votes. Czech MEPs were split on their positions, with all four MEPs elected for ANO voting for the proposal.
Vondracek, from ANO, which is the senior government party, said he has no information about the ANO MEPs having consulted the ANO leadership over their position.
“In the current time of various crises, not only migrant ones, Europe needs respect and confidence between the states, and also a dialogue, but this is nothing but deepening the trenches that already exist,” Vondracek said, referring to the EPs’ recommendation.
Unlike him, Jan Farsky, head of the Czech opposition Mayors and Independents’ (STAN) deputies’ group, praised STAN MEP Stanislav Polcak for voting for the recommendation.
“He voted prudently and correctly,” Farsky said.
The anti-EU far-right opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement leader Tomio Okamura called the ANO MEPs’ position in the vote a fateful failure.
He said he suspects PM and ANO leader Andrej Babis telling the Czechs things that are different from those he has been promoting in Brussels.
Babis did not attend the lower house discussion today. The debate flared up when some MPs said the [Czech] drawing of EU subsidies might become conditional on their observance of the-rule-of-law principles.
In this connection, Civic Democrat (ODS) lawmaker Jan Skopecek called it scandalous that some Czech MEPs on Wednesday voted against Hungary, which is an ally of Czechs.
Pirate MP Mikulas Peksa said it is important that the rules of law be observed in EU countries. Hungarian PM Viktor Orban is not an ally of all, Peksa said.
ODS deputies’ group Zbynek Stanjura said the proposed EU proceedings are not aimed against Orban but sovereign and democratic Hungary.
“The launch of a procedure against Hungary is not in the Czech interest,” Stanjura said.
Jiri Kobza (SPD) said the goal is evidently to use Hungary as a deterrent example. If the pressure works as expected, the question is whose turn it will be next, Kobza said.
Peksa said he felt fascinated how opinions were shared by the ODS and the SPD.
Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) deputies’ group head Jan Bartosek said he considers the plan to punish Hungary very unfortunate.
Helena Langsadlova (TOP 09) said the Czech Republic’s interest is to be a firm part of the EU.
“Don’t offer any other path, no such exists,” she said, adding that Czechia should help contribute to the EU becoming a better project.
Out of the 21 Czech MEPs, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) Pavel Svoboda, Michaela Sojdrova and Tomas Zdechovsky voted against the recommendation, as did Civic Democrats (ODS) Evzen Tosenovsky and Jan Zahradil, Jiri Payne (Free Citizens’ Party), Jan Keller (for the Social Democrats, CSSD) and Communists (KSCM) Jaromir Kohlicek, Katerina Konecna and Jiri Mastalka.
Unlike them, the step was backed by Czech members of the European Liberals faction elected for the ANO movement: Dita Charanzova, Martina Dlabajova, Petr Jezek and Pavel Telicka, and also by Stanislav Polcak (Mayors and Independents, STAN)), MEPs elected for TOP 09 Ludek Niedermayer, Jiri Pospisil and Jaromir Stetina, and CSSD MEP Miroslav Poche.
Another CSSD MEP, Pavel Poc, abstained from the vote.
The last Czech MEP, Olga Sehnalova (CSSD) does not figure on the list of voting MEPs. She probably did not take part in the vote.