Commentary Euroscepticism

Klaus: The EP is just a game for parliament

In an interview with Lidové noviny, former President Václav Klaus evaluated the elections to the European Parliament and the EU. Klaus also commented on Brexit, Donald Tusk and his meeting with Steve Bannon.

Ex-president Klaus is known for his Euroscepticism. In the interview, he reiterated that he is skeptical about the importance of the European Parliament, which he described as "mostly a dumping ground for second-rate politicians for which there are no sufficient roles at home". This statement has aroused criticism from Prime Minister Babiš and the leaders of other parties. The prime minister responded that Klaus talked about the time when members of the "old" ODS and other traditional parties ran for the European Parliament, and he certainly did not mean the current ANO candidates.

Although Klaus cannot choose a party he would give his vote to; he no longer considers his candidacy. According to him, the biggest disadvantage is that on the Czech political scene, no such party that would clearly mark today's EU as a dead-end street did dare to emerge. Klaus made it clear that we should start a debate on the meaningfulness of the Europarliament, which is currently rather a game of parliament. He added that for this reason, the sacrifice of the candidate politicians is admirable.

Regarding Brexit, the EU, according to Klaus, did not have the slightest interest in any positive outcome of the negotiations that the United Kingdom failed to manage, if not could not manage at all. However, the ex-president respects the British decision to abandon the "wrong construct of European integration". In this context, Klaus described the words of Donald Tusk, who spoke of a “special place in hell” for the architects of Brexit, as meaningless.

The editor asked Klaus about his contact with Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist of US President Donald Trump, who recently launched an initiative in which he wants to bring together various nationalist subjects across Europe. At first, Klaus opposed any negative connotations of the concept of nationalism. He emphasized that the ambitions of the Europeans to whom Bannon's activity relates cannot be considered nationalistic in the traditional Western sense, i.e., negative meaning. Klaus specified that he and Steven Bannon had agreed on views of Europe, the organization of the world, and human freedoms, but he does not actively participate in further political talks.

At last, Václav Klaus commented on the situation on the domestic political scene. He thinks that the Czech Republic needs to calm down the public relation to politics. Klaus appreciates that lately, politics has not been "the biggest fury for the Czech public", and that people are "not buying the non-stop media-created and inflated agendas". One reason for this is the prosperity that the Czech Republic has experienced in recent years, along with the rising economy and almost zero unemployment. On the other hand, Klaus cannot positively evaluate Czech foreign policy. He fears that it is rather part of the European Union´s or German policy, and disagrees with certain activities of Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček, which have also been criticized by President Miloš Zeman.

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