Stanley's blog

Looking back with the Czechs

Like many, I look forward to the Czech Presidency, which begins on 1 January, with some trepidation. Not because the Czech Republic is a small and new member – Slovenia ran the Presidency in the first half of this year, but because of the attitude of the leaders to the Union itself. Vaclav Klaus has just been on a state visit to Ireland (see post of 15 November) where, at a joint conference with the anti-Lisbon group Libertas and its founder Declan Ganley, 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

Klaus called 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.

Having re-assured ourselves that the President has little power, the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek now says that his country would ratify the Lisbon Treaty, (but only after a favourable decision of the Constitutional Court), despite its imperfections, as a result of fear of Russia.

He said “It is better to embrace the German Chancellor than the Russian bear.” saying, “We criticise many EU policies, but it is better to be inside than to stand outside. The benefits of being in this civilisation space exceed the costs.”

This is not the style of talk welcome from the next European Council Presidency. It takes us back, but only to the Cold War’s ‘zero sum game’ and not to the Founding Fathers’ ‘win-win’ thinking.

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  1. Dear Mr Crossik,

    if you find even Mr Topolanek’s opinions too heretical, I am afraid that you should be really afraid of our presidency. You know, Czechs have quite some experience with other nations’ approaches to us, their promises, and betrayals which has created a huge body of realism, pragmatism, and skepticism in our minds.

    If you want all of us to be naive and think that everything about the European Union is a win-win situation, you will have to build a time machine and repair many events in the past. For example, you will have to return to 1938 and convince your countrymate Neville Chamberlain that the war was inevitable, anyway, and the he should respect the military treaty with his important, democratic, peaceful ally in the middle of Europe who is threatened by a very dangerous regime, rather than to help to strengthen Adolf Hitler.

    There will be many other things you will have to do in order to transform the real world into an ideal one. Until you do so, you should learn how to live with the fact that the Czechs realize that most decisions in the real world have a “catch” and most decisions are about comparing advantages and disadvantages, costs and benefits.

    I am confident that hundreds of millions of EU citizens think in a similar way and they will find our presidency refreshing, after years or decades of politically correct, hypocritical, and conformist babbling about the ever closer Europe, a fight against global warming, social justice, and all this crap.

    Best regards

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