Doubt is the word most used by European media in connection to the end of French EU presidency that is to be followed by the Czech one for the next six months. Last week’s satirical programme on Canal Plus TV represented its latest form. The programme took advantage of hyperbole corresponding to the puppet show to address the question marks accompanying the Czech presidency, which were also underlined by a number of commentaries published in more serious media.

A scene including European politicians targeted Nicolas Sarkozy, as it has done before, but this time the Czech president also became an object of satire. It was not his views concerning Europe, however, since Klaus’ puppet only managed to utter a few sentences by which he attempts to correct Sarkozy’s waterfall of verbal errors and ironic allusions.

Judgments surfacing from numerous commentaries are a more important evaluation of the Czech Republic’s outlooks. “It seems that the Czech presidency will be unpredictable,” says a headline in last week’s Parisian daily Le Figaro. The article describes the Czech president as “very eurosceptical”, while the prime minister “lacks experience”.

Doubts concerning the Czech presidency have not emerged only recently and only in the country that is concluding its presidency right now. The British Times described Václav Klaus as “provocateur from Prague” in the headline of an article published in the middle of November. The paper states that the president has been criticised for the claims concerning the EU he uttered during his visit in Dublin but that Klaus “has never shied away from making enemies”. The Times predicts that the diplomatic battle in Dublin “could appear like a storm in a thimble compared to what lies ahead”. That is why the paper asks: “Who knows what political havoc Klaus may wreak in the EU in the first half of next year?”

The British Daily Telegraph belongs among papers that defend Václav Klaus. The paper this weekend returned to the recent heated debate between the Czech president and the delegates from the European Parliament. The daily says that the development served as proof of the way the governing elite fails to accept different opinions. The paper’s inaccurate orientation in Czech political system can be found in its comparison of a Prague castle visit to that of Buckingham palace.

German media also show a sceptical approach to the Czech presidency. The daily Handelsblatt wrote that the main reason of the opinion reigning in the European capitals is caused by the weak domestic position of PM Mirek Topolánek. The paper says this will make it even harder for the Czech Republic to lead the game between the different interests of influential member countries. Nevertheless, the paper says Prague should get a chance to show what it can do.

According to the daily Die Welt, Klaus’ recent reproach aimed at “naïve politicians” was meant for Topolánek. The paper finds it surprising coming from a politician who used to be what his successor is now – a pragmatist.


Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.