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Czech Christian Democrats still behind controversial leader

Prague, 4.4.2007 13:36, (CTK)

Most senior officials of the Czech Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) support their controversial leader Jiri Cunek before the party national conference to be held later today, CTK has found.

On Tuesday, the coalition leaders agreed that the situation Cunek caused by his embarrassing statements about Romanies was very serious and it should be dealt with by the KDU-CSL leadership.

However, some members of the KDU-CSL national leadership did not consider Cunek's statement as unsuitable or unfortunate.

Local Development and Deputy Prime Minister Cunek told tabloid daily Blesk last week that if "other people want to be be subsidised like Romanies, they will have to get sunburnt, start making a mess with their family, put up fires in the square and only then some politicians will say: they are really miserable."

Cunek apologised for his statements on Sunday, but said that his words were torn out of context and that he was misunderstood.

"The statement is not xenophobic. If anything, it criticises the hypocritical approach by some politicians," Vladimir Derner, a member of the Hradec Kralove town hall for the Christian Democrats, told CTK.

The view is shared by Karel Klima, the Mayor of Hostinne, East Bohemia, and a member of the KDU-CSL national conference.

"As a local politician, I understand Cunek's statement. All of this is an artificial problem. As far as the content is concerned, it was all right, perhaps I would have chosen slightly different words," Klima said.

"He has only said what most of the nation thinks. Besides, the journalists must have distorted what he said," Pavel Jiran, a member of the Liberec region party leadership, said.

On the other hand, Petr Sourek, head of the Liberec region party branch, said that Cunek's staying in the government harmed the party.

"I have known Cunek for over ten years and I know that he is no racist," Jiri Carbol, a member of the Chamber of Deputies, told CTK.

Cunek's statement was unfortunate, Rudolf Chamrath, a member of the KDU-CSL national committee, said.

"This should not have been said by the KDU-CSL leader, whose image should be cultivated. The Romany issue should be formulated by other words and forms," he said.

Chamrath said that it would be good if Cunek stopped dealing with the Romany issue for a time.

His involvement provokes controversy that benefits no one and nothing, he added.

Karla Rezacova, KDU-CSL secretary in the Zlin region, said that the regional officials would not propose Cunek's dismissal over the statement.

"Besides, our office has received scores of phone calls asking us to support him today," Rezacova said.

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Czech republic, Xenofobní výroky Jiřího Čunka



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