Czech PM: Hate attacks in UK after Brexit are future of Europe if EU falls
On Friday, 7 October, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) said the British decision to leave the European Union has led to foreign nationals becoming targeted for assault in Britain. He believes a similar error must not be repeated in any other EU country, otherwise Europe will be smashed by its own hatreds and nationalism.
Sobotka also warned that negotiations about the future form of the relationships between Britain and the remaining EU states will be harsh. He also recalled incidents of recent months in which a Czech citizen was murdered in London in September and a mob killed a Polish citizen in Harlow in August.
"Now we are being shown the actually very unpleasant face of British nationalism, which was strongly supported by the Brexit result. This is just a taste of how Europe might turn out if, God forbid, we do not manage to keep the EU together. National grudges and hatreds would begin to crash down upon us," the Czech PM said.
During the negotiations between the EU and London, which should begin next year, Sobotka said he anticipates harsh clashes if the British side will not be willing to back down. "It will be a certain dilemma to negotiate a good agreement. We must protect the employees in Great Britain who are our citizens and at the same time not allow Britain to distance itself too much," the PM said.
Sobotka believes it is in the interest of the Czech Republic to maintain close relations with London. Brexit, in his view, is also an opportunity for the other EU countries to take over part of the EU investments that otherwise would have been sent to Britain.
"On the other hand, it will be negative because the British, within the framework of the European Union, and frequently in collaboration with the Visegrad Four countries, used to support resistance to protectionism and the mainteance of the free European market. We will miss Britain in the EU," the PM said.
The Visegrad group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) will, according to Sobotka, still be a good platform for advocating Czech interests inside the EU. However, the PM emphasized that it is not the only form of collaboration that the Czech Republic takes advantage of in the EU.
"Our policy has always been focused on doing our best to have good relations in Europe, we do our best to have friends there," Sobotka said. He stressed in that context, for example, the country's strategic dialogue with Germany.
The PM has also rejected some statements by Western politicians that the Visegrad group is against the EU. "The V4 has never functioned and never will function as an instrument for breaking up the EU," he said.
The murder of the Czech citizen in London took place during the week of 19 September. Sobotka said on 29 September that a hate attack was responsible for the death.
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