Sunday 18 October 2009

With Vaclav Klaus only seeing is believing

Vaclav Klaus’ “heroic” stand against the EU Treaty of Lisbon was draining away his support faster than you can say General Custer. What were his options?

Yesterday, 17 October 2009, Czech Happenings published main points of the interview Czech President Vaclav Klaus had given to the Lidove noviny paper.

Klaus now seems to believe that the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon will enter into force, and it looks as if he is going to be content with face-saving “Irish road” assurances, instead of re-ratification.


Facts and views

Czech leader resigned to treaty”, reports the BBC, speaking of increasing signs from Prague Castle that Klaus’ battle may be lost.

Klaus, fin de partie”, is the headline on the Coulisses de Bruxelles blog. Jean Quatremer notes that Klaus is not going to wait for the general election in Great Britain.

Contrary to Klaus’ assertion that Lisbon has advanced too far for a retreat, Quatremer remarks with some irony that the reform treaty offers a procedure for secession, but Klaus wanted to do it without consulting the citizens.

In a Bloomberg report, written by Andrea Dudikova, EU Commission spokesman Michele Cercone makes the observation that Klaus did not say that he will sign the Lisbon Treaty ratification.


English scene

The English anti-EU scene is trying to get to grips with the new situation. In The Telegraph, Christopher Booker laments the Czech President as a fallen hero, in “Vaclav Klaus, the only leader who dared stand up to Europe”.

Anti-integrationist commentators have been quick to realise that the foundation for the Lisbon referendum promised by David Cameron and William Hague has eroded.

If the Czech Constitutional Court rejects the new legal challenges and the Czech Republic finally ratifies the Lisbon Treaty, the Conservative Party’s EU policy enters uncharted “we won’t let matters rest there” territory.

The Klaus peg was amoral, but convenient for the Tories, who now feel the pressure building up.

Or should Cameron and Hague still hope, knowing Klaus’ erratic behaviour and that in his case only seeing is believing?

Ralf Grahn


  1. Ralf. My reading of some of the reports you signal (read before I signed on here) left e with the view that Klaus is just playing with people. He did not say he would sign (nor that he would not) but dangled the prospect, tauntingly.

    What he should understand is that not even the staunchest supporter of Lisbon would agree that it is unblemished. But each party has their own list of good or bad parts: that is usually so in any treaty document. And some leaders have hinted that, once installed, it can be refined, built upon and improved upon - in ways that will not require the full ratification process (referendums, etc) all over again.

    As for the UK. Your later post is an excellent resumé, with which I fully concur.

  2. French Derek,

    Klaus' ambush only a week ago came as a total surprise for the Swedish EU Council Presidency, the member states and the Czech government.

    His rapid loss of support (previous post) may be a real driving factor, but I do not trust the man before I see that the ratification instrument has been deposited in Rome, because in the worst case this hint at ratification might be a feint to give himself breathing space.


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