Czech PM says he stands behind Hungary after EU parliament vote

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis attends a news conference in Berlin, Germany, September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech government stands behind Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban after a European Parliament vote to sanction the country for flouting EU rules, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Thursday.

The vote on Thursday was the parliament’s bid to launch the punitive process of the European Union treaty’s Article 7, although the vote has little chance of ending up with the ultimate penalty of Hungary being suspended from voting in the EU.

“This nonsense just ushers in negative sentiment into the European Union,” Babis told online news website Parlamentni Listy when asked on the vote. “Instead of getting together, there is politics.”

“So, I stand behind (Prime Minister) Orban. We are allies,” he said.

The Czech Republic is part of the Visegrad group of countries that includes Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, the latter also facing a similar sanctions procedure launched by the executive European Commission in 2017.

Reporting by Jason Hovet and Robert Muller; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg