The Czech Republic has just assumed the presidency of the EU, and the Czechs are making the Mandarins of Brussels a little bit nervous by insisting on listening to the voices of the people of Europe, particularly the Irish voices which voted “no” to the Lisbon Treaty.
A couple of weeks ago an EU delegation led by MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit paid a visit to Václav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic, in Prague.
Readers of a certain age will remember Daniel Cohn-Bendit as “Danny the Red”, the young Communist revolutionary and veteran of ’68. During the ferment of the late 1960s, when I was living in England, Cohn-Bendit was synonymous with revolution, and aimed to overthrow the existing power structure. Whenever I see his name, I think of the Red Brigades or the Bader-Meinhof Gang. He was an archetype of the youthful revolutionary vanguard, a leader of the proletarian struggle.
However, times have changed. Daniel Cohn-Bendit is a no longer a wild-haired revolutionary, but a grizzled member of the European Socialist establishment. When he went to see Václav Klaus, it was to lay down the law: Mr. Klaus is obliged to recognize the supremacy of the European Union Politburo, and give up any lingering foolishness about liberty and Czech sovereignty. This is 2008, and not 1989.
But Václav Klaus persists in his intransigence, and refuses to fly the EU flag over Hradcany Castle. This aroused Mr. Cohn-Bendit’s anger, and he took the Czech president to task for his impertinence. Unbeknownst to the participants, however, the meeting was tape-recorded, and widely reported in the Czech media.
MEP Nigel Farage took umbrage at Danny the Red and his fellow EUniks for their bully-boy behavior. Here’s a video of the exchanges that took place in the European Parliament. According to the YouTube notes:
Nigel Farage raises the issue of the verbal attacks on Czech President Václav Klaus at the Prague meeting with the European Parliament “Conference of Presidents” on 5 December 2008.
See for yourself:
For excerpts from the transcript please go to this link (pdf): http://www.maltafly.com/images/excerp…
On Klaus’ website, in Czech: http://www.klaus.cz/klaus2/asp/clanek…
As described to me by someone present, President Klaus greeted the MEPs with his usual genial courtesy. Whatever his own views, he assured them, his countrymen would conduct their presidency in fully “communautaire” fashion. Cohn-Bendit then staged his ambush. Brusquely plonking down his EU flag., which he observed sarcastically was so much in evidence around the palace, he warned that the Czechs would be expected to put through the EU’s “climate change package” without interference.
He then moved on to the Lisbon Treaty. “I don’t care about your opinions on it,” he said. If the Czech Parliament approves the treaty in February, he demanded, “Will you respect the will of the representatives of the people?”
That’s the EU in a nutshell: it doesn’t care about your opinion. A “no” vote is irrelevant: the aristocrats of Brussels know better than you do what is good for you. They will act accordingly, regardless of what you think.
Needless to say, Nicolas Sarkozy sided with Danny against the upstart Czechs. Again, according to The Telegraph:
The French president sided with federalist Euro-MPs who are engaged in a bitter feud with Václav Klaus, the Czech president and a Eurosceptic.
“It was a wound, it was an outrage to see that flags had been taken down from public buildings,” said President Sarkozy, the current holder of the EU’s six-month rotating presidency which he hands over to the Czech Republic in January.
“Mr Poettering can count on the full support of the French president.”
But Mr. Klaus is putting up an admirable resistance to Imperial Brussels:
“There is no law binding the Czech Republic to hang the EU flag over Prague Castle. Prague Castle is a symbol of the Czech state and not the EU,” [the Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg] said.
“It is not up to the head of another state to criticise the Czech president over flags.”
And Nigel Farage is explicit in his comparisons:
Nigel Farage, the leader of UK Independence Party, compared the EU flag demand to the behaviour of Nazi or Soviet officials, both dictatorships that had occupied Prague and its Castle in the past.
“The manner in which Cohn-Bendit demanded that President Klaus fly the EU flag over his castle could easily have been done by a German official of over 70 years ago or a Soviet official of 20 years ago,” he said.
Is such resistance futile? Will everyone be assimilated?
The EU brings a formidable pressure to bear on member states that refuse to cooperate with the grand European scheme. But that pressure is primarily economic — the EU has no military enforcement capability, unless it can persuade the United States to supply the muscle and bomb recalcitrant countries into compliance.
We are entering a period in which the economic options of all Western governments will be severely curtailed. It remains to be seen how much centrifugal force is thus released by sudden changes in the dynamics of political power.
Hat tips: Tuan Jim and TB.