In an interview with the Echo24 daily, Czech MEP Jan Zahradil (ODS) rejected speculation that the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) might disband. On the contrary, he stated that he would like to bring the party of the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to the European Parliament faction.
“The speculation was caused by the fact that our Polish allies convened a wider meeting of parties with a similar opinion several times this year. Parties from the Identity and Democracy group, including Mr. Matteo Salvini, also took part in it,” Zahradil said.
He emphasized his party’s loyalty to the Italian Fratelli d’Italia., which is chaired is Giorgia Meloni, who is also the president of the ECR. Zahradil will respect Meloni’s agreements with Salvini.
Zahradil is open to negotiations with Orbán, but the Hungarian prime minister must take the first step. Zahradil does not oppose Fidesz’s entry into the ECR.
“I do not claim to agree with Orbán in everything. His sometimes tense Christian conservatism is a little too much for me. However, I fully acknowledge his reservations about the progressive ideas that often flow into Hungary from the West, often through NGOs,” Zahradil said.
In the interview, he also enumerated the priorities of the Czech Republic during the EU presidency, which the country will take over on Jul. 1, 2022. His nation will deal with, for example, the controversial EU Green Deal. Regarding the environmental agenda that defines the Green Deal, he said he will try to explain the position of Czechia to colleagues from Western Europe regarding the different economic and energy structures of Eastern Europe. Czechia, along with countries like Poland and Hungary, are more reliant on fossil fuels, and have all been pushing for the EU to recognize nuclear power as a “green” energy source due to the fact that it produces virtually no carbon emissions.
Zahradil also considers it crucial to protect the EU’s external borders from illegal migration.
“We may have some problems with the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which pushes us towards deeper integration. I am convinced that the Czechia will not go in this direction and will not support further restrictions on majority voting in the European Council,” Zahradil said.
According to Zahradil, Czechia will try to take on the role of mediator in the case of currently tense relations between Poland, Hungary, and Belgium. He also commented on the issue of abortions in Poland. He thinks that it is necessary to respect deep-rooted secularism there.