Prague - Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) rejected the imposition of political and economic sanctions on Russia by his country, demanded by three ex-ministers today, and he said European countries should proceed in a coordinated way.
Předseda ČSSD Bohuslav Sobotka vystoupil 15. března v Praze na tiskové konferenci po jednání o vnitrostranické reformě. ČTK Šulová Kateřina
"The Czech government will not declare any one-sided sanctions, but we are prepared to negotiate within the EU," Sobotka said.
If the European Union agrees to react to the current developments in Ukraine, the Czech Republic will participate in this reaction, he said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) supported Sobotka.
The power of the EU is in taking joint action and separate steps taken by individual countries would harm the EU, Zaoralek said.
Martin Bursik, Michael Kocab and Lubos Dobrovsky, who were ministers of past Czech right-wing governments, said their country should impose political and economic sanction on Russia unless Russian troops withdraw from Ukraine´s Crimea.
Bursik read out the call at a demonstration against the Russian military intervention in Crimea near Prague Castle today.
Crimea holds a referendum on its status today that is likely to transfer control of the region from Ukraine to Russia. Kiev said the referendum was invalid. Moscow today vetoed a U.N. draft resolution against the Crimean referendum.
The EU and USA plan to freeze bank accounts of Russian officials and ban issuing of visas for them.
The former ministers also call for depriving Russian citizens of the possibility of dual citizenship, not letting Russian investors enter the country and cancelling the huge tender for building two new reactors in the Temelin nuclear power plant, in which one of the bidders is the Czech-Russian consortium MIR.1200.
Sobotka said previously the government could hardly scrap the tender.
Sobotka said Czech sanctions against Russia would be a mistake.
He pointed out that the country is considerably linked to the Russian market, which means that economic sanctions would not be beneficial.
"It would threaten jobs in our country," Sobotka said.
Bursik, Kocab and Dobrovsky say the Czech Republic should be a resolute advocate of the opposition against the arrogant attempt to revive Russian economic and political influence in Eastern and Central Europe.
They say sanctions would make Russian citizens understand that representatives of Vladimir Putin´s undemocratic regime were leading their country into isolation from the free world.
Bursik was Czech deputy prime minister in 2007-2009 and Green Party leader in 2005-2009. Kocab was human rights minister in 2009-2010 and he supervised the moving of the Soviet troops out of the country in the early 1990s. Dobrovsky was defence minister in 1990-1992 and ambassador to Russia in 1996-2000.