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Slovak PM Fico urges end to referendum 'adventures' in EU

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico addresses the European Parliament during a debate in Strasbourg, France, December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico urged other European leaders on Monday to stop calling referendums on domestic issues, saying they posed a threat to the EU and to the euro.

Last June Britain voted in a referendum to leave the European Union and last month Italian voters rejected a constitutional reform plan. Right-wing, anti-immigrant parties in France, the Netherlands, Italy and elsewhere are demanding referendums on their membership of the EU or the euro.

“I am asking EU leaders to stop with adventures like the British and Italian referendums (...) on domestic issues which pose a threat to the EU,” said Fico, whose country handed over the rotating six-month EU presidency to Malta on January 1.

“Britain is not a eurozone country, Italy has a huge impact on the banking sector, the euro.

“What will we do if ... there is a referendum in Italy on the euro and Italian citizens decide they don’t want the euro,” Fico told reporters.

In Slovakia the small far-right People’s Party has started a petition to call a referendum on the country’s membership of the EU and of NATO, though it is unlikely to pass. Even if the party raises the 350,000 signatures needed, legal rules require a 50 percent turnout for the vote to be valid.

More than 90 percent of Slovak voters on a turnout of 52 percent voted for the country to join the EU in a 2003 referendum. Slovakia joined the bloc in 2004 along with the Czech Republic and eight other, mostly eastern European nations.

Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Gareth Jones