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Czech PM on Ukraine: We cannot agree with right-wing extremism

Prague, 24.3.2014 20:03, (ROMEA)
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, chair of the Czech Social Democratic Party (PHOTO: ČSSD)
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, chair of the Czech Social Democratic Party (PHOTO: ČSSD)

Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka considers it important for the current Ukrainian government to implement a sensitive national minority policy based on the idea of integration. The PM made his remarks to Czech journalists in Brussels after signing the political section of the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine together with other EU leaders and Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

"It is very important that the Ukrainian government proceed to establish the foundations for maintaining the territorial integrity of Ukraine and be able to face down efforts to further divide Ukraine according to the principle of nationality," Sobotka declared. After the opposition seized power in Kiev, the Russian Federation separated the strategically-located Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and annexed it to its own territory through a rapid process that came to a head today with the use of Russian soldiers. 

The pretext for the move was the alleged threat to the Russian minority posed by the new powers in Kiev, whom pro-Moscow media outlets are labeling Fascist and nationalist; a referendum took place a week ago in Crimea in which more than 96 % of those voting supported the notion of uniting the peninsula with Russia. Sobotka says the EU must view the situation in Ukraine realistically; while the current government there has the support of the EU, some operations are also underway with which it is all but impossible to agree. 

"I am thinking of some of the manifestations of right-wing extremism or right-wing radicalism," Sobotka said. The Czech PM noted that the abolition of a law guaranteeing the right of national minorities to speak their own languages had been a misstep by the new powers in Kiev that the Russian-speaking minority had refused to accept.

The Czech PM also reminded the press that there is not just a Russian national minority in Ukraine, but also a Polish national minority and a Romanian one. The preamble to the association agreement that was signed on Friday references the values said to be shared by the EU and Ukraine:  Democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.

Sobotka said that by signing the preamble, Ukraine has pledged to promulgate such principles in its legal order. There are about 20 000 ethnic Czechs currently living in Ukraine today. 

A group of Volynian Czechs from the Zhytomyrs'ka Oblast' has recently turned to representatives of the Czech Republic with a request for aid for about 40 families who want to return to their original homeland. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek told the lower house today that a representative of the Czech Embassy in Kiev will be reviewing their situation as soon as possible and that Karel Kühnl, the Special Envoy of the Czech Foreign Ministry for Compatriots, is ready to travel to Ukraine as soon as possible as well. 

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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