Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Zeman, Hofer want to to strengthen role of Central Europe in EU

ČTK |
13 September 2016

Prague, Sept 12 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman and Austrian presidential candidate Norbert Hofer would like to strengthen the role of Central Europe in the European Union, the latter told journalist after their meeting yesterday.
"We spoke about whether it would be possible to give Central Europe a stronger voice within the EU in the future since we have a joint history and a similar way of discussing matters," Hofer said.
"We want to create a union in the Union, we would like to cooperate," Hofer said.
He talked to journalists alternately in German and English.
He added that the meeting with Zeman had taken place in a wonderful atmosphere.
Their talks also touched upon some controversial points, such as the Czech Temelin nuclear power plant, situated in south Bohemia only some 60 km of the Austrian border, and the post-war Benes decrees.
"Norbert Hofer has presented his project of 'a union in the Union' that roughly corresponds to the idea of extended Visegrad Four (V4) group into Visegrad Plus," Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek added.
The Visegrad Four is comprised of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.
Zeman and Hofer also debated migration on the assessment of which the agreed and two controversial points: such as the emelin nuclear power plant, situated in south Bohemia only some 60 km of the Austrian border, and the post-war Benes decrees.
"We naturally talked about Temelin. It is our problem," said Hofer, adding that Austria is not a fried of nuclear energy.
The use of renewable energy sources in Europe must be strengthened, he pointed out.
Hofer at the same time said after the meeting with Zeman that though some of their opinions differed, the future was common and they must work on it.
The Benes decrees provided for the confiscation of the property of collaborators, traitors, ethnic Germans and Hungarians, except for those who themselves suffered under the Nazis. They also formed a basis for the transfer of the former groups from Czechoslovakia.
Temelin is sharply criticised by activists in Austria, Bavaria as well as the Czech Republic who say it is not safe because it combines Soviet design and western fuel and safety technology. These doubts were repeatedly dismissed by the Czech Republic.
Zeman stressed the unchangeable stance of the Czech Republic on Temelin and on the Benes decrees, Ovcacek said.
The Czech Republic refuses to open the Benes decrees issue and insists on nuclear energy being part of its "energy mix."
The meeting between Zaman and Hofer lasted for an hour. Hofer gave Zeman a Sachertorte cake from Vienna.
Hofer's visit stirred up reservations by some politicians. It was unclear in what capacity Hofer would come to Prague. At present, he is one of the deputy chairpersons of the Austrian parliament and also a member of the collective head of the state.
This is why Zeman was blamed for having interfered in the Austrian presidential election by receiving Hofer.
In May, Hofer lost with the narrowest margin to Greens' leader Alexander Van der Bellen. However, due to problems in the calculation of the votes sent by mail, the Austrian Constitutional Court cancelled the election
Zeman has welcomed the step and backed Hofer.
The repeated election was originally scheduled for the beginning of October, but the Interior Ministry postponed it yesterday until early December due to technical problems connected with balloting papers.
hol/dr

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