The Czech Republic took over the six month rotating presidency of the European Union from France last week. The EU’s new figurehead leader, Czech President Vaclav Klaus, believes that global warming is a myth, prompting Prague to scramble to keep Klaus as far away from Brussels as possible.
The European Union’s new figurehead believes that climate change is a dangerous myth and has compared the union to a Communist state. The views of President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic, 67, have left the government of Mirek Topolanek, his bitter opponent, determined to keep him as far away as possible from the EU presidency, which it took over from France yesterday.
The Czech president, who caused a diplomatic incident by dining with opponents of the EU’s Lisbon treaty on a recent visit to Ireland, has a largely ceremonial role. But there are already fears that, after the dynamic EU presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy – including his hyper-active attempts at international diplomacy over the credit crisis and Georgia as well as an historic agreement to cut greenhouse gases – the Czech effort will be mired in infighting and overshadowed by the platform it will give to Mr Klaus and his controversial views. Czech diplomats in Brussels insist that Mr Klaus is not a big part of their plans and are trying to limit him to one speech to the European Parliament in February and chairing one international summit, either the EU-Canada or EU-Russia meeting.
The Czech Republic is the only member of the 27-nation EU that has not yet voted on the Lisbon Treaty, a sweeping set of reforms for the now bigger EU. Ireland voted against it and Poland’s president refused to ratify it without those two nations, citing the treaty’s unanimous vote requirement.
The treaty was rejected by Irish voters in a referendum on 12 June 2008 and, under EU rules, it cannot enter into force if any of the 27 member states fails to ratify it. Since then, the Czechs have delayed their parliamentary ratification and Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski has refused to ratify the treaty for the time being, calling it “pointless”. The treaty, signed in Lisbon in December 2007, was drawn up to replace the draft European constitution, which was thrown out by voters in France and the Netherlands in 2005.