September 30, 2009
Regarding ‘Eurosceptic Czech senators put Lisbon Treaty on hold‘:
I am just an amateur historian, but I try to learn history so that I avoid committing the same errors made in the past.
From the little I know, the Czech Republic is a rich and industrious land which was in the world’s top five for GDP per inhabitant before WWI. It also is a generous country: few remember that Bohemia and Moravia sent food packages to the Belgians and the Dutch after WWI devastated their fields.
So it is no surprise that ‘big empires’ have always lurked around and invaded the Czechs, from the Huns, Roman emperors to the Ottomans and the Habsburgs. Hitler and Stalin of course both invaded the Czech Republic in the last century, so it is not surprising that the Czechs are protective of their independence.
Given the small size and international weight of the Czech Republic, I understand the wish to ensure its independence. What I do not understand is President Klaus’s rage against European “unelected bureaucracy”.
The European Union practices, for me, an original ‘democratic diplomacy’ among elected national ministers, allowing, for example, newcomers like small Estonia to veto a proposal for an association with Russia which was much favoured by the 26 other EU member states.
Mr. Klaus is concerned that he might be bullied by the European Union. Yet this organisation respected the will of the Danish and Irish people (each representing some 2% of EU population) three times, despite the fact that in all cases these governments signed and supported the Maastricht, Nice and Lisbon Treaties. The treaties were amended.
This should rather reassure the Czechs – and Mr. Klaus. For me, the European Union is the best guarantee for smaller member states against bullying by larger ones.
I now see that 17 elected Czech senators (20% of the CZ senate and 1 % of the Parliament) are challenging the constitutionality of the Treaty, which was paraphed by Klaus, voted by its democratic government and already upheld once by the Czech Constitutional court.
Your editorial of 30 September hints at the fact that it is for Klaus to wait for the UK to change government so the Treaty is definitely “killed” by the Brits. Surely the Brits prefer intergovernmental agreements. They are a major nation and can stand up for themselves and for others as they have done in the past.
This might suit the Brits, but my humble opinion is that it wouldn’t suit the Czechs.
When big neighbours bullied the Czechs last century, intergovernmental agreements did not protect them.
To an EU federalist friend asking ‘What can we do with Klaus? His position is nonsense,’ I replied that I understood Klaus’s position, but that cynically, eventually, if all else fails, ‘we can always invade Prague Castle’.
Private citizenAuthor : Letters to the EurActiv editor