Czech Elections 2017: Exclusive Interview with Kateřina Konečná (KSČM – GUE/NGL)

Kateřina Konečná, member of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (GUE/NGL), is a former Deputy of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. She is a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.  She drafted a report on palm oil and deforestation of rainforests, as well as a recommendation on amending the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer.
PJvw68 CZ Project - Kateřina2 [draft1][18Oct2017]

VoteWatch Europe: Ms. Konečná, you have been representing Czechia in the EP for more than 13 years, how would you describe the KSČM delegation’s work during this period?

Konečná: We are trying to be a constructive opposition to the ruling parties – EPP and S&D. We are fulfilling our program about a more social and inclusive Europe for the European people and not just the lobbyists. Europe can definitely do more in this matter, especially when it comes to European citizens’ initiatives, which we very much support. Too many people in the EU feel unrepresented and that must change unless we want to see the rise of right-wing populism. We are giving a voice to the people, who are more critical of the EU but also want to see cooperation advances on peaceful and social development in Europe.

VoteWatch Europe: As a member of ENVI committee, what strategy do you think EU should adopt with the aim of countering climate change? How do you comment the Trump’s administration decision to pull out the US from the Paris Agreement?

Konečná: The Trump’s administration is a disaster for the environment and our struggle against global warming. Sadly, Trump himself does not understand that we are sharing the same space. Instead of going for “Earth First”, he follows the selfish interests of his country. He puts the Paris agreement at risk. Even though we could debate if the suggested goals in the Paris Agreement and its procedures are indeed sufficient enough. I believe that one of the biggest EU challenges is to make transportation more ecological and environmental friendly.

VoteWatch Europe: As a Czech MEP, do you see a consolidation of the Visegrad group as a way to strengthen the leverage of your country in EU politics, or would you rather see Prague as a possible mediator between Western, Central and Eastern Europe?

Konečná: I will always support cooperation between nations, but this cooperation must be between equals. The Visegrad group exists because countries in central Europe don’t feel equal to the “old states”. We could discuss, if it’s because of the way too powerful Germany and France, or rather because the Visegrad group states don’t have a long-term strategy about what they want to achieve in the EU.

VoteWatch Europe: The Visegrad countries have very different positions with regard to Russia: while Poland wants the EU to keep a safe distance from our Eastern neighbour, Hungary doesn’t shy away from displaying friendlier relations with Moscow. How does a former Vice-Chair of the Foreign Affairs committee in the Czech Chamber of Deputies see the future relationship scenarios between Czechia and Russia after the upcoming legislative election?

Konečná: That is, of course, a very complicated question. I believe we must all understand that we are all (both the EU and Russia) facing the same global problems – terrorism, instability, global warming etc. I believe therefore that cooperation on these issues is absolutely essential. The positions of Russia and of the EU vary on many issues. But, I believe we should try to find out what connects us and not only focus on what divides us.

VoteWatch Europe: China is increasingly interested in strengthening ties with Central and Eastern European countries, including Czechia. Do you think that the EU should adopt a more cooperative stance towards China, given the current international developments?

Konečná: I believe it would be very wise, yes. If you are sitting with someone at the table, you can also tell them what you don’t like about them and try to find common ground. We already talked about Trump´s decision to pull out the US from the Paris Agreement. Imagine China would do the same. That would be a disaster. Cooperation is the key to make sure that will not happen.

VoteWatch Europe: In 2016, the Czech president, Milos Zeman, called for a referendum to decide the country’s EU and NATO membership. How do you forecast the future of the Czechia’s membership in both these blocs after the legislative elections?

Konečná: My party is for referendums in general, but we must make sure that people do actually know what they are voting for and understand the consequences of their decisions. A genuine referendum must take place at the end of a long public debate and shouldn’t just be the outcome of a political campaign. Referendums must be about merit and not a popularity contest between party leaders.

Click here to follow the activity of MEP Kateřina Konečná .

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