Wednesday 14 October 2009

EU Lisbon Treaty: Clear summary of Czech problem

Klaus keeps EU guessing on future of Lisbon Treaty – Prague is keeping the rest of the EU waiting”, is a clear EUobserver summary of an unclear situation, written by Honor Mahony.

Recommended reading for all Czech and EU citizens, with matters fast approaching crunch.

Ralf Grahn


  1. Do you happen to know if the law on Klaus's desk is a "constitutional law" in the sense of article 50 of the Czech constitution?

  2. At this moment I only know that the Czech Constitutional Court has already declared that the Lisbon Treaty is compatible with the Czech Constitution.

  3. One thing is evident - Václav Klaus wants not the Lisbon Treaty and does everything to delay its legal force. Therefore he exploits (or better takes advantage of) Czech fear of giving back properties of their former German fellow citizens expelled after the World War II (3 millions people!). This fear is something like a Czech national obsession, probably due to their guilty conscience. Some politicians take advantage of it, Václav Klaus among them too.
    In these days, his acting has been naturally discussed much in the Czech republic - most of the voices say that the president acts unacceptably, but there is also indispensable number of them who claim that Mr. Klaus heroically defends Czech national interests after other Czech politicians have failed scandalously and have endangered their citizens toward the demands of "Sudetian" (a technical word for all former Czechoslovakian) Germans. So, Václav Klaus feels some popular support of himself, therefore it cannot be expected that he will follow soon an example of his Polish colleague, president Lech Kaczyński.

  4. Citizen of Europe,

    Yes, it is almost obscene that the president of an EU member state stirs up fear and loathing against citizens of other EU members, especially since he knows that his reasoning is rubbish (as stated by the Constitutional Court and the Government).

    European integration has, from the start, been meant as a process of healing in Europe, but naturally it requires sane and responsible leaders to succeed.

  5. I'm unclear as to what the Czech Constitution states over who is empowered to speak (and act) for the nation in any international negotiations. If it is the Prime Minister - then the Czech PM has acted on his nation's behalf and the Czech government have ratified his actions. If, however, the President himself should conduct international negotiations - why wasn't he personally involved?

    Second, if the Czech President had any misgivings about the Lisbon Treaty and its possible effects on Sudetenland properties, etc, why did he not voice these at the appropriate time - ie during negotiations on the Treaty?

    To pretend that he has suddenly been taken with pangs of conscience on behalf of his citizens in peril stretches one's imagination beyond belief. He is trawling the depths to prevent the day when he would have to append his signature to his government's democratically agreed Treaty decision.

    OK, the Lisbon Treaty is a pretty boring piece of work BUT Is there no-one in the Czech Republic sufficiently aroused by this presidential lack of democracy to take to the streets in protest?

  6. French Derek,

    One of the problems might be that the Czech Constitution is less than clear. It is based on parliamentary democracy (with two chambers), and the president is elected by parliament. Still, in principle, he negotiates (if he has not delegated) and ratifies; but I just saw an interview, where Vaclav Havel said that ratification was just a formality.

    Constitutional practice is often as important as the wording. (Imagine Elisabeth II refusing royal assent - the last time was some years after 1700.)

    I wonder if the Czech Constitutional Court could rule on the matter, since it has been forced to turn every stone, anyway.

    As for reactions, I wonder if you read the recent Financial Times editorial on Klaus and Lisbon?

    There have been at least two fresh posts in English on the blog Between Brussels and Gazprom (if I remember the name correctly).

    At home, as among EU-rejectionists elsewhere, Klaus has supporters who see him as a martyr. They totally disregard the political will of 27 governments, 26 national parliaments and one referendum, all notions of loyal cooperation and fair play, the interests of their country etc.

    They condone Klaus' spurious reasons for obstruction or destruction, as well as his timing.

    It boils down to the robustness of the Czech constitutional system, nothing less.

    The government has two weeks to solve the problem internally, or to drop it into the lap of the EU member states.


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