|Czech government collapses ahead of EU summit|
|Written by Chris Perver|
|Wednesday, 25 March 2009 06:36|
|Mirek Topolanek has resigned as Prime Minister of the Czech Republic following a vote of no confidence in his administration yesterday. The fall of the Czech government follows similar developments in Latvia and Hungary in recent weeks, as the financial crisis deepens in eastern Europe. But the resignation of Mirek Topolanek is expected to cause greater problems further afield, as the European Union is now essentially without a president. The Czech Republic was only three months into its six month presidency of the European Union. The Czech parliament was also engaged in ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, which will create the permanent posts of EU President and Foreign Minister and give the European Union its own legal identity on the world stage. The collapse of the Czech government is also likely to complicate matters at the G20 summit in London next week, as the heads of the European Union meet to debate measures aimed at resolving the financial crisis. |
Quote: "The Czech cabinet is expected to stay on until the country's controversial eurosceptic president, Vaclav Klaus, appoints a new administration or until after new national election. But Mr Topolanek's political demise will also create a political vacuum ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to Europe for the G20 talks and an EU-US summit to be held in Prague on April 5. "Will it be an empty chair? Who is going to represent the EU presidency and Europe? It could not come at a worse time," said one official. The Czech PM had been expected to represent the EU at next week's G20 meeting in London before playing host to Mr Obama in Prague for a symbolic meeting next weekend to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. "This episode is going help the case for a permanent EU President under the Lisbon Treaty," said a Brussels diplomat.
The fall of the government came just a month after its president expressed reservations about the Lisbon Treaty, and warned that bureaucrats in Brussels were attempting to recreate a "Soviet bloc in Europe".
Quote: "A longstanding Eurosceptic and admirer of Margaret Thatcher, Klaus remains scornful of attempts to impose the Lisbon treaty on an unwilling electorate. He said the treaty contained measures to give unelected officials in Brussels "even more power". Irish voters who threw out the treaty in a referendum last year "knew what they were doing", Klaus added, and he was not certain that the second vote which has been called will have a different outcome: "But the pressure will be enormous and not very democratic." He talked of a "democratic deficit" in the EU when he addressed the European parliament last month. In his interview, conducted by e-mail, he explained: "I see the democratic deficit in a growing distance between the citizens of the EU member states and the EU political elite, as well as in the shift of decision making from the member states' capitals to Brussels." About 75% of legislation was made in the EU by unelected officials, he said. The Lisbon treaty would give the EU its own legal personality and would abolish important rights of veto: "This certainly is not a solution to the democratic deficit. It makes the democratic deficit even greater." Klaus refused to say whether he would agree to sign the treaty, which has yet to be passed by the Czech Senate, if and when it arrives on his desk. "I don't wish to foresee ... what happens after that; let’s wait for the Senate's decision," he said.
The European Commission given the Czech presidency of the EU its full backing, but I can't help getting the feeling that some in the European Commission may have viewed the Czech government as an obstacle to the 'reforms' they want to bring in. When the European presidency was transferred from France to the Czech Republic, the Czech Prime Minister rebuffed an off-the-record bribe from French President Nicholas Sarkozy, which would have permitted him to remain leader of his Union for the Mediterranean despite not being leader of the EU. The Czech Prime Minister also expressed support for Israel during the recent conflict in Gaza, correctly stating that Israel has a right to defend itself against Hamas, which recently renewed its rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. For that the Czech government was criticized by other leaders in the European Union. And last month the Czech President told the European Union what he really thought of them, and was booed by MEPs for his efforts. While the fall of the Czech government will cause problems for the EU, I feel that the solutions that will be proposed to resolve the issues will not be for the benefit of European citizens or our freedoms. This financial crisis is fast becoming a political crisis, and there can be no doubt that the pressure will be on for the Irish Republic and the remaining governments of the European Union to ratify the Lisbon Treaty as soon as possible. The world needs a man who can restore public trust in the political system and gain control of the world's financial systems. Anyone?