published: 23.01.2013, 13:08 | updated: 23.01.2013 13:10:53
Prague - The Czech presidential candidates, Milos Zeman (Party of Citizens´ Rights, SPOZ) and Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) differ in their opinions on EU extending with addition of the Balkan countries as well as on Kosovo, it ensues from CTK´s interviews with them released today.
The second round of the direct presidnetial election will be held on January 25-26.
Zeman, former Social Democrat prime minister, supports Croatia´s and possibly Serbia´s EU entry, but he is not considering other Balkan states while Schwarzenberg is in favour of the gradual integration of all countries in the region.
Zeman and Schwarzenberg, foreign minister and TOP 09 head, fundamentally differ, on the independence of Kosovo which Zeman does not recognise. He, like the outgoing President Vaclav Klaus, would not allow for the appointment of an ambassador to the country.
Schwarzenberg, for his part, said the Czech Republic could have a fully-fledged diplomatic mission in Kosovo if he were elected president.
Now, the representation is at the lowest level over Klaus´s resistance.
"I would even withdraw the charge d´affaires who is there...I consider Kosovo a terrorist regime, financed by drug mafias," Zeman said.
He said he does not consider the former Serbian province a democratic state.
"The Czech Republic should have a fully-fledged ambassador to Kosovo," said Schwarzenberg, who was foreign minister also when Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia and when the Czech Republic recognised it.
Zeman and Schwarzenberg also differ on further EU extension.
"I can imagine the entry of Croatia that is already in the offing. And may be also Serbia, but this is about all," Zeman said.
Schwarzenberg, however, says "the integration of the whole Balkan region into the EU has long been a Czech foreign political goal."
Both politicians are reserved about possible admission of Turkey.
"I have the impression that Turkey is not going to fulfil the conditions necessary for admission, such as settlement of its relations with Cyprus and a change of stand on ethnic and political minorities," Schwarzenberg said.
"I am resolutely against Turkey´s EU entry because it is a different culture while Europe is not integrated only economically, it is integrated also via its cultural values," Zeman said.
He said he would, however, respect Turkey becoming a privileged strategic partner of the EU, which is one of the considered alternatives of the EU´s cooperation with Turkey.
Zeman said Europe should become a federation in the long-term, but it should not be a "super state."
He said foreign and defence policies should be transferred to the European level.
"But I like to mention nonsensical examples, such as energy-saving bulbs and dozens of other similar things where the powers of national governments and parliaments should be fully preserved," Zeman said.
The EU should "jointly make decisions on issues that are of key importance for the development of all Europe. Matters related to regions should be solved on the national level," Schwarzenberg said.
Turning to the stabilisation mechanism with which the EU is trying to consolidate the euro zone, Zeman said he agrees with the stability pact, including mechanisms for the failure to observe it.
"But I am not much in favour of the European stabilisation package because I think it is rather a covert form of support to the governments that are not capable of good financial management," Zeman said.
He said Europe overcame many crises in history that have strengthened it.
"We must try for the EU to be operable, but the process of coming closer to one another must also be done with EU citizens´ agreement," Schwarzenberg said.
Both Zeman and Schwarzenberg would probably support the continuation of the exception from the Lisbon Treaty that Klaus secured for the Czech Republic.
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