Monday, 23 October 2017

HN: Czechs need victory of Merkel as Germany's pro-EU leader

ČTK |
22 September 2017

Prague, Sept 21 (CTK) - The Czechs need Germany having a leader who would keep its pro-EU line, not one to pursue German aims regardless of others, which is why Angela Merkel's election victory and her continuation as German chancellor is in Prague's interest, Ondrej Houska writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) on Thursday.

Former Czech president Vaclav Klaus often presents his adherence to the legacy of the interwar Czechoslovak presidents, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk and Edvard Benes. However, if the two were alive now, they would desperately protest against his harming Czech interests by openly supporting the Alternative for Germany (AfD) at its meetings ahead of the German general election, Houska writes.

At AfD meetings, Klaus has referred to Merkel as an enemy of freedom and democracy. He mentioned her next to his arch-foes, which are "political correctness, multiculturalism, humanrightism, feminism, genderism and the aggressiveness of homosexualism," Houska writes.

It is a mystery what his support for the AfD has in common with his alleged adherence to Masaryk and Benes, since it is widely known that German nationalists never brought anything good to Czechs in the past. Why should this be different in the case of the AfD, a pro-nation populist party Klaus has sided with? Houska asks.

Masaryk and Benes realised and repeatedly said that for Czechoslovakia, it was of vital importance that staunch nationalists were not in power in Germany. Interwar Czechoslovakia did not have to fear about its future until Germany had leaders who were ready to seek international understanding, Houska writes and adds that the eventual arrival of different [Nazi] politicians resulted in a disaster that was fatal not only for the Czechs.

Like in the 1930s, the Czechs still need Germany that has a chancellor who will keep its clear pro-European line instead of promoting German interests regardless of the rest of the EU, Houska writes.

European Germany is needed, not German Europe, he says.

That is why it is in Prague's interest that Merkel remains German chancellor. Any successor to her would be worse from the Czech point of view, Houska continues.

True, there are many things Merkel can be reproached for, he writes, mentioning Germany's sudden withdrawal from nuclear energy and its pressure for all EU states to compulsorily accept refugees. However, the crucial thing is that in a vast majority of issues, Merkel is an ally of small countries such as the Czech Republic. Only few have done so much for the preservation of the EU's unity, Houska writes.

Each EU country mainly eyes the interests of its own, which is normal. Merkel, nevertheless, knows that Germany bears wider responsibility (not only) due to history, Houska writes.

Germany's political and economic strength is an unchallengeable fact, as is its position as the largest and the most significant country in Europe to the west of Russia. The important thing is how German politicians will use this strength, Houska says, adding that he would not like anyone else but Merkel to "receive the keys to this giant power" after the Sunday election.

In 2015, Merkel had no other choice but to open the borders to the wave of migrants. Or should she have left thousands of migrants stuck in Hungary? If so, the migrants would have undoubtedly tried to reach Germany, including via the Czech Republic. Czech critics of Merkel would definitely protest if Germans closed the border and the migrants would be trapped in the Czech Republic, Houska says.

Merkel's one-off acceptance gesture was rightful, but she deserves criticism for pursuing her "welcome policy" for too long. Nevertheless, those who compare her to Hitler and shout that she must end in politics are unaware of what they say. Who the Czech nationalists and xenophobes would like to become German chancellor instead of Merkel? Houska asks.

Apart from Merkel, her Social Democrat (SPD) rival Martin Schulz has a chance to achieve the post, but definitely no one else - no one who would like to dissolve the EU, surround Europe with a wall and suppress homosexuals, which would be hailed by Klaus and others in the Czech Republic, Houska writes.

If Merkel and Schulz are compared, Merkel emerges clearly better for the Czech Republic. Schulz is even more open to asylum applicants than Merkel, who has toughened her position in the meantime. Schulz is also far more resolute towards the states rejecting the refugee relocation quotas, Houska writes.

Merkel takes regard of the Czech Republic far more than Schulz does, while Schulz does not conceal his plan to pursue close cooperation within the euro zone only, with the German-French core at the head. The Czech Republic would probably have big problem joining such cooperation, Houska writes.

Merkel does not want to wait for the hesitating countries either. Nevertheless, she would not build an impenetrable wall between the EU core and the rest, he writes.

Schulz says Merkel's Germany has shown insufficient solidarity with the rest of Europe and that is should start sacrificing more for the common benefit. However, he has the benefit of the euro zone in mind, while he finds countries like Czechs bothersome, Houska writes.

Faced with the Merkel vs Schulz offer, the Czechs should prefer Merkel, he adds.

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