Stanley's blog

Vaclav Klaus’ state visit the Ireland fills one with forboding ahead of the Czech Presidency. And what happened to diplomacy? The Czech President is entitled to his views but also expected to conform with protocol.

Klaus met anti-Lisbon group Libertas and its founder, Declan Ganley. At a joint press conference, the President endorsed

Libertas’ rejection of the Lisbon Treaty and the two Eurosceptics announced their intention to form a new pan-European political force opposed to the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and further EU integration.

A private dinner hosted by Ganley brought together some non-Irish Eurosceptics, such as French MEP Philippe de Villiers; Austrian MEP Hans-Peter Martin; Danish former MEP Jens-Peter Bonde and Dariusz Sobkow, until recently Poland’s consul general in Strasbourg and formerly a European Parliament official.

Several Irish politicians expressed outrage at this “inappropriate intervention”, to which Klaus responded by calling Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin a “hypocrite”, adding that the problem of “democracy disappearing in Europe” seemed far worse than he expected following the reactions of the Minister.” The Czech president controversially described Mr Ganley as a “dissident” in the mould of former Soviet-era dissidents in his own country.

This experience raises two questions? How does it augur for the Czech Presidency? What will be its effect on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty?

Although the Czech President has limited political power, he can act as a spoiler and damage the Presidency’s reputation. We have already seen the unpleasant antics of Polish President Kaczynski. There is no doubt that the Irish visit will intensify fears over the Czech Presidency which begins on 1 January 2009.

More worrying is the growth of Libertas into a pan-European Euro-sceptic anti-Lisbon Treaty party. This latest experience reinforces my view that we cannot risk poisoning the European Parliament elections by leaving ratification of the treaty until afterwards. We risk returning a chamber with a large and organised anti-European element that could even put at risk the cooperation procedure which requires an absolute majority.

I believe it essential that the Irish Government holds a second referendum at the latest in March 2009, even if the result is the end of the Lisbon Treaty. Having regard to the changed world circumstances, the critical problems of financial meltdown and economic recession, with Europe leading the fight, our Irish friends should appreciate that a strong Europe externally is critical for them and all of us. Only another incompetent performance by the Irish Government would lead to a second rejection.

Vaclav Klaus’ state visit the Ireland fills one with forboding ahead of the Czech Presidency. And what happened to diplomacy? The Czech President is entitled to his views but also expected to conform with protocol.

Klaus met anti-Lisbon group Libertas and its founder, Declan Ganley. At a joint press conference, the President endorsed

Libertas’ rejection of the Lisbon Treaty and the two Eurosceptics announced their intention to form a new pan-European political force opposed to the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and further EU integration.

A private dinner hosted by Ganley brought together some non-Irish Eurosceptics, such as French MEP Philippe de Villiers; Austrian MEP Hans-Peter Martin; Danish former MEP Jens-Peter Bonde and Dariusz Sobkow, until recently Poland’s consul general in Strasbourg and formerly a European Parliament official.

Several Irish politicians expressed outrage at this “inappropriate intervention”, to which Klaus responded by calling Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin a “hypocrite”, adding that the problem of “democracy disappearing in Europe” seemed far worse than he expected following the reactions of the Minister.” The Czech president controversially described Mr Ganley as a “dissident” in the mould of former Soviet-era dissidents in his own country.

This experience raises two questions? How does it augur for the Czech Presidency? What will be its effect on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty?

Although the Czech President has limited political power, he can act as a spoiler and damage the Presidency’s reputation. We have already seen the unpleasant antics of Polish President Kaczynski. There is no doubt that the Irish visit will intensify fears over the Czech Presidency which begins on 1 January 2009.

More worrying is the growth of Libertas into a pan-European Euro-sceptic anti-Lisbon Treaty party. This latest experience reinforces my view that we cannot risk poisoning the European Parliament elections by leaving ratification of the treaty until afterwards. We risk returning a chamber with a large and organised anti-European element that could even put at risk the cooperation procedure which requires an absolute majority.

I believe it essential that the Irish Government holds a second referendum at the latest in March 2009, even if the result is the end of the Lisbon Treaty. Having regard to the changed world circumstances, the critical problems of financial meltdown and economic recession, with Europe leading the fight, our Irish friends should appreciate that a strong Europe externally is critical for them and all of us. Only another incompetent performance by the Irish Government would lead to a second rejection.

Author :
Print

Comments

  1. This is very typical Mr. Klaus. He is, not unlike some other head-of-state in Central Europe, has a kind of role-playing problem with being president. His last great stunt was when he spoke out in the UN Climate Summit for a greener Greenland and claiming the green environmentalists are like water mellons who are red communists inside.

  2. You ask what happened to diplomacy, but what happened to democracy?

    I’m not a eurosceptic, I don’t agree with Klaus’ views, and you are right that his antics are not exactly one would expect from a country’s president when visiting another.

    However, when you write that you are worried about “the growth of Libertas into a pan-European Euro-sceptic anti-Lisbon Treaty party”, you leave yourself open to the eurosceptic accusation that Brussels is not interested in listening to Europeans – that whenever Brussels gets the “wrong” answer it keeps asking it until it gets the “right” one. Klaus’ reference to communist-era dissidents therefore seems rather apt.

    If the EU gets its Lisbon treaty by ignoring a referendum, it will only be storing up trouble for later. Europe needs to win the argument democratically, or not at all.

  3. Mathew
    It is their democratic right to set up a European Eurosceptic party.
    It is my democratic right to be worried about it
    S

Comments are closed.