Czech PM responds to Orbán accusation of Czechia 'switching sides'

Petr Fiala disapproved with his Hungarian counterpart's claims that Czechia had abandoned Hungary in its fight for EU sovereignty. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 23.07.2023 09:40:00 (updated on 24.07.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has hit back against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's recent remarks regarding the Czech Republic abandoning the Visegrad Group and joining the ranks of European federalists. In a statement to ČTK, Fiala highlighted the need for constructive cooperation among Central European countries.

Orbán, speaking to a crowd in Romania's Băile Tușnad on Saturday, claimed that only Hungary and Poland were steadfastly defending the sovereignty of EU member states, while Slovakia appeared hesitant and the Czech Republic had "switched sides."

"The federalists attacked the Visegrad four group, and we can all see the result: the Czechs basically switched [to the federalist side], Slovakia is stumbling, only the Poles and Hungarians are holding on," Orbán said.

He further predicted that the 2024 European Parliament elections would be a showdown between federalists, led by Germany and France, and sovereignists. Orbán suggested that support for stronger member state sovereignty and a less centralized EU might grow in countries like Italy, Austria, or Spain.

In response to Orbán's statement that European federalists had influenced Czechia by attacking the V4, Fiala stressed that his country remained sovereign and was committed to safeguarding its national interests within the European Union.

"We, as Czechia, have the autonomy to determine our stances on EU matters, promoting what aligns with our interests, and supporting initiatives that we believe in," Fiala asserted.

The Czech PM pointed out that the previous Czech Prime Minister, Andrej Babiš, had been dependent on Orbán in European politics, leading Orbán to expect a different response from the current Czech government.

Fiala emphasized that resorting to "absurd labels" would not foster the much-needed cooperation among Central European nations. Instead, he stressed the significance of mutual respect in shaping collaborative relationships.

Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan also responded to Orbán's remarks on Twitter, asserting that the Czech Republic's EU approach had evolved from opportunism to constructive European politics grounded in shared values. He underlined that the country no longer adopted a stance of seeking subsidies while avoiding scrutiny.

The exchange of opinions between the Czech and Hungarian Prime Ministers underscores the complexity of regional dynamics within Central Europe and the diverse perspectives on European integration and sovereignty.

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