Current and former leading Czech politicians who have contributed to the preparation of the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union met at the Foreign Ministry to celebrate the culmination of their efforts. Shortly after the polling stations closed and the first preliminary results started coming in, Rob Cameron spoke to some of the guests at the event. Pavel Rychetsky is deputy prime minister and the country's justice minister.
"The Czech Republic is indeed in the heart of Europe and it would be absurd if it did not become a member of the European Union. I must say we made a great effort. The last five years of harmonising our legal system, economic reforms and approximations have produced their results. I think the Czech Republic won't be lost in the EU."
Among the other guests at the Foreign Ministry was the head of the Delegation of the European Union in Prague Ramiro Cibrian. He also welcomed the outcome of the referendum.
"The decision is clear, is positive, and this is, of course, the essential result. On top of that if the levels of support and the levels of participation are confirmed, that would be very extraordinary and that would be, in my view, the best possible basis for a very successful membership of the Czech Republic in the European Union because it will indicate a very high level of national consensus regarding the membership of the European Union."
Jana Adamcova from the Foreign Ministry was responsible for the government's information campaign ahead of the referendum.
"My first reaction is a very positive surprise. I did not expect so many people to come to vote. But also our colleagues are calling us and saying they never saw so many people coming to elections. I am very happy and I think the campaign did work."
Fifty-seven percent turnout, that is fairly low, isn't it, really? Is that a disappointment for you?
"Not, in our country. In our country we used to have a twenty-percent turnout and this is the first time we had a turnout over fifty percent. And that's great."
So this is then a historic day for this country.
"Well, definitely. We are deciding about the future of our country, of the people who will come after us. And I think we are also paying tribute to all those who suffered under the totalitarian regime. For me this is an honour that I could participate in the campaign for European Union accession."
Jiri Dienstbier is a former dissident, the first post-communist foreign minister of Czechoslovakia and later United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the former Yugoslavia.
"Well, I am very satisfied. I was, of course, sure that the Czech people would not decide to be an isolated island in Europe. I expected about seventy percent "yes" but if it eighty percent, it is absolutely excellent."
So a historic day for your country...
"Well, I don't like these terms like "historic event" but it is a historic event."
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