Monday, 20 November 2017

Respekt: ODS's pro-EU assertions rather unconvincing

ČTK |
22 August 2017

Prague, Aug 21 (CTK) - The Czech opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) vehemently promote a full Czech rejection of the euro ahead of the October general election and their assertion that they do not wish Prague's departure from the EU is rather unconvincing, Marek Svehla writes in the political weekly Respekt on Monday.

The departure from the EU would definitely neither boost the security of Czechs nor the country's prosperity, Svehla writes. The EU is the far most reliable, most democratic and richest allied grouping of which the Czech nation has ever been a member, Svehla writes.

In case of departure, the Czechs would also have to consider what to do next. Only those who do not know history may find the idea of an entirely independent Czech state attractive. Out of the past 500 years, the Czech Lands spent only less than 40 years as an entirely independent state, because Central Europe simply does not offer conditions suitable for the existence of independent states, Svehla writes.

There is no reason to believe that this may change in the future. Since centrifugal forces work in geopolitics, withdrawal from the West would undoubtedly throw the Czechs eastwards, Svehla writes, adding that the post-Soviet republics are the only potential partners for Prague to ally with outside the EU.

In addition, 83 percent of Czech exports go to the EU. As a result, Czexit would reliably make the country poorer and lead to its political radicalisation, Svehla writes.

That is also why Czexit has been demanded by the opposition Communists (KSCM) and Tomio Okamura's populist movement, to mention parliamentary parties only. After last week, however, doubts have arisen about the ODS's position in this respect, Svehla writes.

Ahead of the general election, the ODS emphasises that it is not for Czech departure from the EU and that it only wants to definitively rid the country of its previous commitment to adopt the euro, Svehla writes.

Last week, the ODS even included the euro rejection among the 12 conditions it set for its joining the next government. However, this demand is rather incomprehensible and irrational. On entering the EU in 2004, the Czech Republic pledged to introduce the euro, but no date was set, and any decision in this respect is up to the Czech government, Svehla writes.

Irrespective of whether joined by the ODS, it will be up to the next government whether to take steps towards the euro. On the other hand, an effort to completely cancel the commitment would mean difficult negotiations that would make Prague unpopular in Brussels and complicate its positions in the debate on other issues such as migrant quotas, food quality standards etc, Svehla writes.

The ODS is definitely well aware of this. By demanding such negotiations, it evidently pursues a more important goal, which may be the Czech departure from the EU, Svehla writes.

The ODS's behaviour does not indicate whether the party really means its support for the Czech EU membership. It may change its mind any time in reaction to Czech voters' rising resentment of the EU, for example during an escalating conflict over the relocation of migrants, Svehla writes.

More than verbal proclamations, the ODS's position is clear from its practical steps and reactions, Svehla writes, referring to the ODS's reaction to Slovak PM Robert Fico's statement that he wants Slovakia to join the hard core of the EU.

On behalf of the ODS, Fico's statement was commented by Jan Zahradil, a MEP who is the party's contender for foreign minister. Zahradil called Fico "a useful idiot who will help split the Visegrad Four group (V4, comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia)."

Afterwards, Zahradil added: "Mr Fico has understood it, the post-communists are talented in this respect. Swimming with the current, they lean on another ideological crutch, instead of real socialism."

These definitely were not words by a politician who would like to cooperate, but still no one from the ODS turned up to soften them. On the contrary, the ODS too often uses the same style to comment on the EU, Angela Merkel and anyone who supports them, Svehla writes.

Neither Zahradil nor any other ODS official ever admit that the EU is a value that must be promoted despite its various flaws. Zahradil has branded Czech media articles in support of the EU hard core "protectorate journalism", alluding to articles in the wartime Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia with their repugnant anti-Semitism and kowtowing to Adolf Hitler, Svehla writes.

The ODS evidently strives to prevent the EU from changing and interfering in Czech affairs. However, the EU cannot but continue changing like the whole world. The ODS knows the only way to "prevent" this - to lead the Czech Republic out from the EU, Svehla adds.

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