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Christian Democrat leadership continues to support party head

Prague, 3.4.2007 10:57

The Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) leadership continues to support party chairman Jiri Cunek who was criticised for his recent statements about Romanies by both the opposition and his coalition partners.

Cunek was explaining and defending his statements to his party this morning.

"We have accepted his words and his explanation as he has apologised for them in public. I consider it mainly an affair from a tabloid daily adopted by serious media that pay too much attention to it," Christian Democrat deputy chairman Marian Hosek told journalists.

The party is in a difficult situation as Cunek has also been accused of corruption earlier this year and the opposition has been calling on him to leave the cabinet.

In his last week's statements for a tabloid daily, Cunek ironically referred to the fact that some Romanies abuse the system of social benefits.

He said that people "have to get sunburnt, start making a mess with their family, put up fires in the square" to receive subsidies from the state.

Cunek said earlier that his words were taken out of the context and that his statements were not aimed against Romanies, but against politicians, although he apologised to those who felt insulted by them.

All four parties in parliament condemned Cunek's statements as xenophobic and President Vaclav Klaus strongly criticised them, too. Klaus called on politicians "not to ride on the wave of cheap populism and not to accept the prejudices of no small part of the Czech public."

The junior ruling Greens (SZ) want to discuss them within the coalition.

Cunek confirmed that his controversial statements may be discussed at a today's meeting of the coalition leaders that is to mainly deal with the Czech stance on the EU constitution.

However, some influential Christian Democrats joined the criticism of Cunek earlier this week, namely lower house deputy head Jan Kasal and upper house deputy head Petr Pithart who labelled his statements unfortunate.

Kasal and Pithart refused to comment on the issue today. Neither Minister Cyril Svoboda who also attended today's meeting was willing to comment on it.

Media attention become focused on Cunek last year already when he had Romany rent-defaulters moved to container-like flats on the edge of Vsetin, north Moravia, and to houses outside the area when he was the town's mayor.

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Czech republic, Xenofobní výroky Jiřího Čunka



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