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Czech President Václav Klaus

Controversial Czech President Václav Klaus to Lead EU

January 01, 2009 03:15 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
In January, the Czech Republic assumes the EU presidency, prompting speculation over the potential response of its controversial President Václav Klaus.

Klaus at the Helm

As European Union president for the first six months of 2009, the Czech Republic will be responsible for coordinating EU operations and activities, and will speak on behalf of the EU, which has left some Czechs and members of the media concerned over the potential impact of Czech President Václav Klaus. 

According to the Prague Daily Monitor, the Czech Republic views the position as an opportunity “to present” itself, and intends to hold some EU meetings outside of the capital city of Prague to showcase other regions. But, whether Klaus will negatively color the world’s perception of the Czech Republic is a serious concern for some.

Klaus has emerged as a controversial figure, known for his arrogance and outspokenness regarding the European bank bailout, global warming and the Lisbon Treaty. Furthermore, Klaus’ “ideas about governance are out of step with many of the European Union nations that his country will lead,” according to The New York Times.

For example, Klaus deemed the bailout “irresponsible protectionism” with excessive regulation, and has argued that global warming is a myth, and that the fight against it “threatens economic growth,” The New York Times reported. Klaus has also called for the EU to be dissolved, and has vehemently opposed the Lisbon Treaty, which he feels “will strip countries of sovereignty.” 

His strong views reflect his past, some say. In an interview, Klaus said, “If you lived under communism, then you are very sensitive to forces that try to control or limit human liberty,” according to The New York Times.

Background: Klaus’ Controversies

Klaus’ dealings with Ireland have been fiery. On a November 2008 visit, Klaus “angered ministers” in Ireland by meeting with Declan Ganley, the leader of Libertas, an anti-Lisbon Treaty group, The BBC reported. Klaus also called himself a “European Union dissident” before meeting with Ganley, according to

Klaus is openly skeptical of manmade global warming, calling it a myth and questioning Al Gore’s sanity, according to Deutsche Welle. When the Czech Republic assumes the EU presidency, Klaus could make changes to EU climate laws. But according to Deutsche Welle, changes will only be possible if an agreement to cut EU greenhouse gas emissions is not established at a summit to be held later this month.

Related Topic: Interview with Klaus

In an interview with Cristina Galindo of El Pais in June 2008, Klaus discussed his role as president of the Czech Republic, his relationship with Russia and the global warming debate. “I see the danger in the ideology of environmentalism and its currently strongest version, climate alarmism,” Klaus said. He continued, “[W]hat is at stake in the debate about the so called fight against global warming is not the climate but our freedom and prosperity.”

Opinion & Analysis: Opposition from within

Reference: Official Czech Republic presidency site


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