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Iran Press TV

Brexit leaves European leaders reeling

Iran Press TV

Fri Jun 24, 2016 9:21AM

European leaders have expressed dismay after Britain voted to leave the EU, triggering warnings of repercussions and fears of further calls for similar referendums.

EU chiefs told Britain Friday to start negotiations to quit the bloc "as soon as possible," after outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron said he would leave the negotiations to his successor.

"We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be," said a joint statement.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the EU assembly will hold an emergency session next week. France was also to hold an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the impact of Britain's exit.

Schulz said he would speak with German Chancellor Angela Merkel "on how we can avoid a chain reaction" of other EU states following the UK's lead.

"The chain reaction that is being celebrated everywhere now by euroskeptics won't happen," Schulz said. "That'll have consequences and I don't believe other countries will be encouraged to follow that dangerous path."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier voiced regret over the decision, calling it a "sad day for Europe."

Former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb described the 'Leave' vote as a bad nightmare, saying the development could lead to crisis and chaos.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli, whose country has long been pushing for a membership in the EU, said Britain's vote marks the beginning of the disintegration of the bloc.

The Brexit campaign and the rise of Europe's populist right have further dented Turkish hopes of ever joining the EU.

Russia, however, said it wanted the European Union to remain a major economic power.

"Moscow wants the EU to remain a major economic power which is prosperous, stable and predictable," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with journalists.

Far-right parties celebrate

Europe's far-right parties praised the vote as a victory for their own anti-EU stance and vowed to push for similar referendums in their own countries.

President of France's Front National (FN) Marine Le Pen welcomed the vote, describing it as "a victory for freedom."

"Like a lot of French people, I'm very happy that the British people held on and made the right choice. What we thought was impossible yesterday has now become possible," she said.

Far-righ Dutch MP Geert Wilders also called for the Netherlands to hold a referendum on whether to leave in the EU.

"The Dutch people deserve a referendum as well. The Party for Freedom consequently demands a referendum on NExit, a Dutch EU exit," Wilders said in a statement.

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK's Independence Party (UKIP), also hailed the Brexit win as the country's "independence day."

"The dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom," Farage said, adding, "Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day!"

The top anti-EU campaigner also said the European Union is dying. He said Britain has left behind a failing political union.

Madrid urges 'Spanish flag on Gibraltar'

Spain said Friday it was closer to bringing Gibraltar under its control after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

The two countries have been locked in a long-running dispute over Gibraltar. The UK has always insisted Gibraltar is rightfully British. The Spanish government maintains the territory is Spain's.

Gibraltar, with a population of over 30,000, is located on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula and has an area of 6.7 square kilometers (2.6 square miles).

"Our formula... is British-Spanish co-sovereignty for a determined period of time, which after that time has elapsed, will head towards the restitution of Gibraltar to Spanish sovereignty," Spain's acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told Spanish radio.

But Britain's Minister for Europe David Lidington sought to ease concerns in the 33,000-strong territory.

"I want to be absolutely clear. The United Kingdom will continue to stand beside Gibraltar," he said in a statement.

"We will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against your wishes."

Gibraltar's defense and foreign relations issues are supervised by British authorities.

Since 1989, British military aircraft have been banned from flying over or landing in Spain if their final destination is Gibraltar.

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