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Vadim Ghirda/AP
Czech President Václav Klaus

Czech President Compares EU to Soviet Union, Angering Leaders

February 19, 2009 04:15 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
Czech President Vaclav Klaus is raising eyebrows again, this time for likening the European Union to the Soviet Union in a speech before EU legislators.

EU Parliament "Undemocratic," Klaus Insinuates

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In a speech today before European Union lawmakers, Vaclav Klaus labeled the parliament undemocratic and said it was "comparable to Soviet-era dictatorships that forbade free thought," reports the Associated Press.

Klaus is a longtime critic of the EU, and as Czech president, he is also the current EU president in rotation. Today, he took aim at the latest EU treaty, which would grant additional “powers and oversight” to the EU parliament. Klaus indicated that the EU's focus should be “on offering prosperity to Europeans, rather than closer political union,” according to the AP.

“Those who dare thinking about a different option are labeled as enemies,” Klaus said in the speech.

In his first two months as EU President, Klaus has made quite a wave. In early February, he spoke out against global warming, dismissing former Vice President Al Gore’s claims of “manmade greenhouse gases,” reported the Washington Times. His comments came as the rest of the EU prepares for the UN climate conference next December, drawing ire from environmentalists and green party constituents.

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 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 remains 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 Times.

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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