the Czechs steer the ship

Posted January 13, 2009 from Czech Republic

As of this month, the Czechs have, for the first time, assumed the six month rotating European Union presidency. That is a big deal, especially in light of the economic crisis, sweeping across Europe.

To add drama to the mix, the Czech president Václav Klaus, who is undeniably one of the only world leaders doubting climate change is real and manmade, is playing prima donna with his "Euroscepticism." He wallows in the fact that he is the only head of state in Europe who is opposed to ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, sighting a significant loss of Czech sovereignty as his primary motivation. As the UK Daily Mail posits, Klaus "looks certain to use his tenure as an opportunity to publicise views which will enrage other EU leaders."

Though his role in the Czech EU leadership is largely ceremonial, unlike that of the diplomats representing the Czech Republic in the EU headquarters in Brussles, Klaus's anti-EU views and climate skepticism are creating tensions within the union, leading to bad press and premature accusations of incompetency on the part of the Czechs to lead.

True, the French president Sarkozy is having a hard time passing the baton, and has even tried to fudge the law to extend his EU presidency for another two years as head of an alternative EU governing body comprising the powerful players, fortunately to no avail.

Though the International Herald Tribune stipulates that economic crisis may provide the perfect opportunity for Sarkozy to push the "inexperienced" Czechs aside jump into the drivers seat again as a capable crisis manager, it is clear that Sarkozy hasn't moved over yet to let the Czechs lead. Just days ago, Sarkozy led the "official EU" delegation to negotiate ceasefire in Gaza, while the Czechs embarked on their own diplomatic mission, further enforcing the image of a fractured Europe.

Will the big players move over and let the Czechs show their chops?

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