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Yes, it is my people’s day. Or six months, rather. Starting January 1, 2009 the Czech prime minister is also the leader of the European Union for the first time. Heads of government of the EU countries take six-month turns at the EU Presidency.
Mirek Topolánek is the current Czech PM. He’s conservative and leads a weak government and is battling calls to resign. It seems he is overshadowed by his political opponent, Czech President Václav Klaus, who’s personality is so large that several publications misstated that it was Klaus and not Topolánek who would lead the Czech EU Presidency.
Klaus is likely to make this a rough presidency: he is a global warming denier and has said that environmentalism is a threat as grave as communism, so he’s a little out of step with the EU’s environmental policy. He calls himself a “Euro-dissident” who is against the Lisbon Treaty, which, among other things, would make the Charter of Fundamental Rights (55 human rights for EU citizens) legally binding throughout the whole EU. Somehow, probably with Klaus’s help, the Czech Republic has managed not to join the Eurozone.
From the Christian Science Monitor:
Klaus is at loggerheads with the Prime Minister Topolanek, who is barely holding onto power thanks to a break some Klaus loyalists have made inside the coalition government. For months, the pro-Europe Topolanek has faced calls to resign.
“Traditionally the European Union presidency has a stabilizing effect,” Mr. Techau says. “But the domestic situation in the Czech Republic is so contentious and unpredictable, it’s really a question whether the government can hold. This could undermine the Czech presidency.”
Get your shit together, people! Come on Czech Republic, this is your moment to shine! Don’t fuck this up.
What they hope to accomplish in the next six months:
-Ensuring energy security
-Using research and development along with small/medium business enterprise to increase Europe’s competitiveness
-”Eastern neighborhood initiative” to bring Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova closer to the EU
Ambitious, yet not.
A Message from Mirek Topolánek:
The motto of the Czech Presidency, “Europe without Barriers”, reflects the four basic freedoms: the free movement of goods, capital, workers, and services. We intend to uphold these freedoms to their fullest. The logo of the Czech Presidency, i.e. the http://www.EU2009.cz website, adds a symbolic fifth freedom: free movement of information and knowledge. The main priorities of the Czech Presidency can be summed up as “the 3 E’s”: Economy, Energy and External Relations.”
Well, Mr. Topolánek strikes upon something that is of great importance to me: the freedom of movement of workers, or as I like to call them, people. That is one of the supposed benefits of true capitalism that we see almost no allegedly “capitalist” or “free market” society actually implement. If we implemented freedom of movement of people in the US, we’d solve illegal immigration with the swoop of a pen! Of course, Topolánek is referring to movement only within the EU, but it’s a start.
The English version of the Czech EU Presidency website is here.