Saturday, 25 November 2017

HN: Elections to decide on Czech position in two-speed Europe

ČTK |
8 September 2017

Prague, Sept 7 (CTK) - The October 20-21 general election will decide on whether the Czech Republic will join the core of the nascent two-speed Europe or become a marginalised eternal grouser, economist Tomas Sedlacek writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) on Thursday.

Will the Czechs remain a cynical, nowhere belonging country of "grumbling Vaclav Klauses and Milos Zemans" or will they wake up and start trying hard to behave like an ally and "a gentleman of the 21st century," instead of its present conduct as a rude boor and troublemaker, Sedlacek asks, alluding to the former and the incumbent Czech presidents with their critical lash-outs at the EU.

Those who take the European project seriously and want to meet allies to discuss integration in the global world, joint steps within the digital revolution and ways to make Europe wealthier and more secure, should join the group of the countries that want to help and consult each other, Sedlacek writes.

This, however, cannot apply to a nation that continues rejecting the euro and refuses to respect the EU's decisions such as the introduction of refugee relocation quotas, Sedlacek writes in an allusion to the Czechs.

A nation whose elected political leaders consider the parroting of Moscow's stances the freedom of speech, while they label a jointly agreed-upon and democratically approved European policy a dictate - such a nation has no place in the Europe that strives for faster integration, Sedlacek writes.

What would such a nation do in the EU core? Would it grumble twice as much? he asks.

Or a miracle may happen and the Czech nation may wake up and start working hard to improve its image. This, however, would require a new strong political stream that would mentally return the Czechs to Europe and maybe eventually to the core of Europe, Sedlacek writes.

Similarly, the Scandinavian countries previously succeeded in exporting issues such as the environment protection and gender equality, Sedlacek writes.

What political ideas do the Czechs export? The president's obscene scepticism? Professional cynicism of a large part of the political elites or, in the better case, the silence or unimpressive and average talks and ideas as presented by the pro-European members of the Czech government, Sedlacek writes.

Europe assesses the Czechs based on the steps and words of the Czech government or, in the worse case, on the words and steps by the Czech president. Up to now, Europe has heard nothing but lash-outs, offences, haughtiness and unwillingness to cooperate from them, Sedlacek writes, adding that the first president, Vaclav Havel (1989-2003), was and exception in this respect.

Thirteen years after their EU entry, the Czechs still do not approach the EU as a project they should help build, but as a grouping that is meaningless but pours money in the Czech Republic, Sedlacek writes.

Either the Czechs will tremendously intensify their efforts now or they will stay aside the EU core, he continues.

Out of the "new" EU members, it is Slovakia, Slovenia and the three Baltic countries that have a chance in this respect. The rest of the "newcomers" cannot join the hard core without each radically changing its political line, Sedlacek writes.

A pre-condition for this is a change in the thinking and the mentality of the nation, he says.

Even if such change occurred, it would be very difficult for countries such as Poland, Hungary and Czechia to make the rest of the EU believe that they really seek fast integration all of a sudden, he writes.

Whatever their efforts, the Czechs still may end up outside the EU's hard core where they may be joined by countries such as Italy and Greece. True, these nations are close to the Czechs, but there was never any strong tie between them and the Czechs in the past. A new grouping will come to being and stroll around the EU aimlessly, Sedlacek writes.

The forthcoming elections are more important for the Czechs than many previous elections, he concludes.

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