PRAGUE (AFP) - The Czech prime minister said on Tuesday (Feb 23) he expects a debate on his country leaving the European Union if Britain chooses to quit the 28-member bloc in a June referendum.
Three-fifths of Czechs said they were unhappy with EU membership and 62 per cent said they would vote against it in a referendum, according to an October 2015 poll by the STEM agency.
"If Britain leaves the EU, we can expect debates about leaving the EU in a few years too," leftist Bohuslav Sobotka told the CTK news agency. Britain will hold a referendum on leaving the EU on June 23.
"The impact may be really huge," he said, adding that a "Czexit" could trigger an economic and security downturn and a return to the Russian sphere of influence.
Such a move "would be an absolute negation of the developments after 1989" when former Czechoslovakia shed Communist rule thereby quitting the Soviet sphere of influence.
Having separated in 1993, the Czech Republic joined Nato in 1999 while Slovakia followed in 2004, when both also joined the EU.
Former Czech president Vaclav Klaus, a staunch eurosceptic who served between 2003 and 2013, was long seen as the major motor fuelling anti-EU sentiment in the country of 10.5 million people.
Euroscepticism there is currently linked to the refugee and migrant crisis, with surveys showing a majority of Czechs opposed to accepting refugees and migrants.
Yet few asylum seekers have chosen to stay in the Czech Republic, with the majority heading to wealthier Germany and other western EU states.
Leftist Czech President Milos Zeman has nevertheless missed no opportunity to voice fiery anti-migrant rhetoric, even insisting that it was "practically impossible" to integrate the Muslim community into European society.