Thursday, 2 May 2019

Czechs try to avoid clash between old, new EU members

24 August 2016

Prague, Aug 23 (CTK) - The Czech Republic tries to avoid a clash between old and new EU countries and prevent the animosity between Hungarian PM Viktor Orban and German Chancellor Angela Merkel from undermining the security, political and economic interests of the EU, Lukas Jelinek writes in Pravo on Tuesday.

Building of bridges is unpopular and some consider it wimpy, but somebody must perform such diplomatic activities, Jelinek writes.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (both Social Democrats, CSSD) promoted the role of diplomacy in averting conflicts and dealing with disputes in their annual meeting with Czech ambassadors on Monday, Jelinek says.

Sobotka and Zaoralek also proclaimed openness towards an integrated Europe, in which the Czechs have their closest partners, and said the country is wary of dictatorships and dictators, Jelinek writes.

Sobotka's politics is pragmatic and consistent. The dispute whether human rights or economic diplomacy should be the priority is long gone and it seems clear to Czech diplomacy that both attitudes need to be combined in the turbulent world, Jelinek says.

It is no surprise that Sobotka supported the formation of a common European army on Monday, he writes.

Sobotka is promoting the European army as a political project, not from the military point of view, Jelinek writes.

Europe was once united by the control of German industry, then by economic development and extending of the European welfare model. At present, the uniting issue might be common defence, Jelinek says.

If Europe wants to be strong, then soldiers and weapons are the symbol of strength. Though this equation is a simplification, it may appeal to the Europeans, Jelinek indicates.

However, the main problem with a European army is that it will weaken NATO, which represents the most direct tie to the United States. Europe needs the USA in order to be taken more seriously in Moscow, Beijing and even Ankara, Jelinek writes.

He recalls that French philosopher Paul Valery asked in the early 20th century whether Europe will not become what it in fact is, a small headland of the Asian continent.

The Prague talks between Sobotka and Merkel on Thursday will be an opportunity to show that the Czechs are able to reach agreement with their allies and avoid the risk Valery had spoken about, Jelinek writes.

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