November 24, 2008
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.Author : Stanley Crossick