Slainte! to a New EU Official Language?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2004

Slainte? That’s Irish, or Gaelic (henceforth we’ll use the latter) for the salutation made at a toast with alcoholic drinks – as in “Bottom’s up!” or “Here’s to you!” – and the Irish hope to be commemorating soon with a celebratory round of the finest Irish whiskey the addition of Gaelic to the EU’s corridors of power. As reported by the sharped-eyed Hana Lesenarová of the Czech daily Mladá fronta dnes (Ireland Desires Recognition of its Original Language in the EU), the Irish government decided this week – “unanimously,” whatever that means – to ask the EU to recognize Gaelic as its twenty-first official language. (Yes, it’s a little bizarre to be reading this news in Czech. I did consult the Irish Times, but didn’t find any mention – although much of that website is shut off behind pay-per-view.) (more…)

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United We Stagnate

Monday, July 5th, 2004

Lately in EuroSavant we’ve been reviewing articles complaining over economic slowdowns in the Netherlands and in Germany – “complaining” from outsiders’ points-of-view, that is, so perhaps you can assume some element of Schadenfreude. Now comes a piece in the German opinion newspaper Die Zeit (United in Stagnation) advising us not to count too much on the European Union to pull such countries out of their economic problems, not if the draft EU Constitution is any guide. At least when it comes to economic policy, author Petra Pinzler writes, that Constitution is “as superfluous as a bicycle for a fish.” (more…)

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Turkey and Other Bones of Franco-American Contention

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004

At the NATO summit in Istanbul, wrapping up its second and final day today, relations between the United States and France have certainly not gotten any better. Bush did not help prepare things very well with an interview he had with RTE (Irish Radio and Television – official transcript here) as he made his way to Istanbul by way of Ireland (and a summit there with top EU officials over the weekend). In the interview he strongly suggested that it was really only France that opposed the Coalition attack on Iraq – “And, really, what you’re talking about is France, isn’t it?” – an assertion which seems to be in contradiction with widely-held facts. Then, once in Istanbul, Bush seemed to think he had the authority to advise the EU to admit Turkey as a member-state, which prompted French President Jacques Chirac to declare that Bush “not only [went] too far, but he went into territory that isn’t his. . . . It is not his purpose and his goal to give any advice to the EU, and in this area it was a bit as if I were to tell Americans how they should handle their relationship with Mexico.” Undaunted, Bush has since repeated this line today at a speech at an Istanbul university: “America believes that as a European power, Turkey belongs in the European Union.” (This CNN report has all the details of the spat in English.) (more…)

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Six of One, Half-A-Dozen of the Other

Wednesday, April 7th, 2004

Let’s continue today our “When Good Central European Electorates Go Bad” series in which, while defending to the death the right of voters there to choose the governments they want, we take out our spectacles, lean in for a closer look, and then blurt out “You want to choose that lot?!”

Today’s subject is one I mentioned in passing in this weblog’s last post, namely the seemingly unstoppable ascent of Vladimir Meciar to the presidency of the Slovak Republic. I took a closer look myself, and while the crisp, succinct, bottom-line summary of what’s going on that I’ve just given you is bad enough, in fact the situation viewed more broadly is even worse – not that there aren’t plenty of comic elements that can’t be extracted to put a little sugar on the bitter pill. Or at least that’s for those of you who are not Slovak and so will not have to live through the next few years with the results of what is about to happen. We’ll do our best to do this in the following, so get yourself in tune for some bittersweet humor. (more…)

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Saving Poland from Lepper-osy

Sunday, April 4th, 2004

Regular €S readers (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!) will have picked up certain themes to which this weblog returns regularly: Alyaksandr Lukashenka, for one, and the Polish forces in Iraq, for another. (Well, I’m supposed to do the latter; it’s been rather inactive for a while.) Another such theme seems to be shaping up quite spontaneously: that of sounding the alarm over Central European states that are threatening to make “bad” electoral choices. Sure, as proud new members of the community of democracies they’re more-or-less entitled to make whatever electoral choices they want. But really, elect back into power in the Czech Republic the KSCM – the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, which is “unreformed” and therefore unashamed of the over forty years of misery its predecessor inflicted on the country? Or, in Slovakia, elect as president in the immediate wake of NATO membership, on the very eve of EU membership, the corrupt political thug (we’re talking here about Vladimir Meciar, for those who came in late) whose behavior in the mid-1990s was responsible for Slovakia missing both such boats then? Or, in Poland, elect into power a farmers’ party notorious for blocking highways and throwing livestock products recklessly around in order to make its political points, whose leader has been banished from the Sejm (Poland’s legislative lower house) a number of times for his reckless accusations and other attacks on other leading political figures? (more…)

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The EU’s New “Terrorism Czar”

Friday, March 26th, 2004

I really wanted to use this weblog entry to continue my coverage of the Danish newspaper Politiken’s great “Europa XL” series of cultural portraits of the current EU member-states. (Portugal was up next.) But 1) Politiken has changed its on-line format since I last looked (check it out), and in that new format I’m having a hard time finding anything about “Europa XL” (although that was supposed to be an on-going, long-running series that was going to segue into covering the ten new EU member-states); and 2) There are a heck of a lot of important things going on now, like the just-ended EU summit, not mention changes of government in both Spain and Poland (the key states blocking progress on approving the proposed EU Constitution back last December, you may recall).

So OK, let’s take one of those important new developments – namely the appointment of the Dutchman Gijs de Vries as Europe’s newly-created “terrorism czar” – and see what we can find out from the Dutch press about this guy and what he’s supposed to do. (more…)

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Into the New Year With Fear and Trembling

Friday, January 2nd, 2004

You would really think the Czechs would be looking forward to 2004. After all, this is the year when, on May 1, they finally enter the European Union. True, there’s no new-and-improved Constitutional Treaty in place yet to adjust the EU to the reality of ten new members, but that’s (hopefully) just a matter of time; in any case, at least Vladimir Spidla’s government (no matter what the opinions of President Václav Klaus may be) can’t really be blamed for the constitutional hold-up.

But that’s not the case, as a pair of articles by Petr Holub in today’s Hospodárské noviny reveals. As Holub points out at the beginning of one (The More the Union Approaches, the More Czechs Are Afraid), “Half of the people think that they will have it worse [in the coming year], and the cause is what they themselves approved in a referendum – May’s accession into the European Union.” (more…)

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Dividing the Agency Spoils at the Brussels Summit

Sunday, December 14th, 2003

Still working hard on my across-the-continent European press-review of the “failure” of this weekend’s EU summit on the proposed Constitutional Treaty. Patience, please – there’s a lot to be covered. For now, let me mention an interesting article I ran across, from Belgium’s De Standaard, discussing something that the assembled European leaders did managed to agree on, namely the placement of various new EU agencies – a plum for any city to get, naturally, not only because of the prestige but also the influx into the local economy of highly-educated bureaucrats, paid well and, what is more, paid from an outside source, the EU budget. (more…)

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The Final EU Reports on Accession States: Polish View

Thursday, November 6th, 2003

Yesterday the European Union issued its final reports on the progress towards meeting required EU standards of the 10 accession nations scheduled to become members as of next May 1. Inevitably, the issue arose of rankings: which country was doing the best job in finally adhering fully to the EU’s vast body of laws and regulations known as the acquis communautaire, which country the worst. In this, Slovenia comes out on top, and Poland at the bottom – although, in an interview yesterday evening on the BBC World Service, enlargement commissioner Günter Verheugen tried to downplay the question of rankings, claiming that it was no surprise that Poland had the most remaining problems, since it is the largest of the new member-states by far.

At the same time, Verheugen has made clear that each of these countries can face sanctions if it doesn’t get its act together. They don’t have to worry about being excluded from EU membership at the last minute, of course, but they could encounter things that could add a distinctly sour note to next May’s celebrations. These could include being hauled before the European Court of Justice or facing extraordinary “protection” measures from other EU states, such as tariffs on goods and/or restrictions on cross-border movements of their citizens.

If you’re willing to by-pass Verheugen’s “largest country” excuse, Poland’s place at the tail-end of the pack is rather ironic, considering the big trouble that country is stirring up in the ongoing Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) to adopt an EU Constitution. Article foretaste: In Poland Threatens a Blockade, in yesterday’s Rzeczpospolita, deputy Polish foreign minister Jan Truszczynski explained how the “quality of the document” – i.e. getting its way on the EU Constitution – is far more important to Poland than mere questions of calendars and timetables. Although, in Waiting for Mutual Concessions in today’s edition of that paper, his boss foreign minister Cimoszewicz is quoted as declaring in Berlin that “we are ready to search for rational compromises.” But he also said that he expected such “compromises” to be attained by means of the German government changing its view on the European Council voting-weights arrangement that is at the center of controversy, and there is no sign that it is about to do that.

Let’s take a look at what one of the mainstays of the Polish press is saying about Poland’s having been singled out as class dunce. (more…)

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Wasted (Brussels) Days and Wasted (Brussels) Nights (French View)*

Saturday, October 18th, 2003

Bad news for EU taxpayers, at least those who rather expect some concrete results from their representatives at European Union fora in return for the tax-euros they are paid. (Come on now – could anyone really be so naïve?) I know you recall that EU summit in Brussels that took place yesterday and the day before – Chirac also spoke for Germany during yesterday’s session, remember? (Covered in €S from both the French and German points-of-view.) That was nice, a great symbolic gesture and all that, but more pertinent might be the fact that little of note was actually accomplished. At least so the French on-line papers say. (more…)

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Gerhard Chirac: The French View

Friday, October 17th, 2003

Now that we’ve already covered German reporting and commentary on Jacques Chirac acting to represent German interests during the second day of the European summit in Brussels (today, in fact), let’s look at the French side. Another day’s passing has even allowed the time for more detailed, nuanced coverage to spring up in the French press, and so I concentrate on these recent articles. (more…)

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A Nice* Refresher

Wednesday, October 8th, 2003

The EU’s Nice Treaty of December, 2000, stands in the immediate background to the ongoing deliberations in Rome over the draft Constitution that began this past weekend. As I mentioned yesterday, should this attempt to arrive at a mutually-acceptable EU Constitution (or perhaps “constitutional treaty”) fail, the status quo of that Nice Treaty is what the EU will be left with, until (if/when) the next attempt at further institutional reform actually succeeds. As we also have seen, Nice has had a more direct influence on the Rome IGC, in that the advantageous voting allocation in the European Council awarded there to Spain and Poland – for whatever reason – has become a point of contention. Those countries seemingly refuse to agree to the draft Constitution terms which would have them give it up.

So we find just what the doctor ordered in the Dutch newspaper Trouw, namely a refresher on that Nice summit of almost three years ago was all about, in an article entitled Failed Nice Summit Continues to Play Tricks with the EU. (more…)

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Polish-German Relations Dampened by Expellee Dispute

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003

Meetings, meetings, meetings! But maybe that’s a foretaste of the soon-to-be EU of twenty-five members. As we noted, Tony Blair met on Saturday (20 Sept.) with Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac in Berlin. Then on Sunday he met back at Chequers (the British Prime Minister’s country residence) with Spanish premier José Maria Aznar. (Those were surely discussions most suited to Blair’s day of rest, as he and Aznar see much more eye-to-eye on international issues these days than do his interlocutors in Berlin.) As for Gerhard Schröder, he met yesterday with Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller – just before flying yesterday evening to New York, for that all-important opening of the UN General Assembly and tête-à-tête with President Bush.

The German papers hardly gave front-page coverage to this meeting between Schröder and Miller (which took place at the conference center attached to the Schalke stadium in Gelsenkirchen, in the Ruhr area – Schalke are a famous German first-division football team, by the way). By and large that treatment was devoted to the overwhelming victory in the Bavarian state elections over the weekend for Edmund Stoiber’s Christian Socialist Union party – something that, unfortunately, EuroSavant isn’t all that interested in, although it has given rise to speculation that Stoiber is now rarin’ to take on Gerhard Schröder again in an electoral fight for the Chancellorship, when the time for that comes ’round again, of course.

That lack of press coverage was unfortunate, because Schröder and Miller had a lot to talk about in Gelsenkirchen. For one, they seem to have some hard-to-bridge differences over the draft EU Constitution, and this just a little over a week before the big EU Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) opens on October 4. Interestingly, according to an article previewing the Schröder/Miller summit in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung entitled No Unbundling of the EU Constitution-Package, it looks like Germany is considering deploying its big financial guns to try to get its way here. Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is quoted by the FAZ as saying as early as the beginning of September that, in his view, EU expansion, the adoption of the draft Constitution, and negotiations over EU finances – which have much to do with how much financial help of various kinds Poland gets upon entering the EU – all constitute an interrelated package. Subtext: If you want to get the money you expect, you better show some give on the Constitution. But let’s leave any further discussion of those negotiations to the near future. With the start of the IGC coming up soon, it’s guaranteed that we’ll get back to this subject soon, and in considerably more detail.

At their meeting, the German and Polish heads of government also devoted considerable time to a controversy that arose over the summer – but is still simmering – about a proposal to erect a memorial called the Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen or “Center Against Expulsions,” in Berlin. This has considerably strained relations with Germany’s neighbors to the east, not just Poland; and it’s a dispute that gives me the opportunity to display a neat picture on these pages – a magazine cover, sorta kinky! – for the first time. (But you’ll have to click on “More…” to see it – ha ha!) (more…)

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Holland Takes Aim at Stability Pact Violators

Wednesday, September 17th, 2003

Today is “Holland Day”! (To read why, see my previous post for today, below.) And this time I have a fairly serious subject to treat, namely the seeming determination on the part of highest Dutch government officials that the Stability and Growth Pact (hereafter just “Stability Pact”), which was added to European law in 1997 and whose key provision is that governments are not allowed to run budget deficits of more than 3% of their GDP, be enforced. When governments violate this rule, they’re supposed to be fined millions of euros by the European Commission; Germany and France are about to violate it for the third year in a row (Italy is also apparently a violator), and, as we’ll see, the Dutch together with some of their friends within the EU want to see those fines applied, even if it happens to be the two most influential countries against which that would happen, the very “motor” of EU development. (more…)

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Lindh and the Euro – The View from Denmark

Sunday, September 14th, 2003

Outside reality intruded for a while to hold up my planned survey of commentary in the Danish press over the murder of Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh and the effect of that incident on the upcoming Swedish referendum over whether to adopt the euro. But I did gather the relevant URLs on the subject from the main Danish on-line dailies, and am posting this early enough for there still to be suspense about the referendum’s outcome (for prompt EuroSavant readers, anyway.)

I start with Berlingske Tidende’s rather simplistic editorial leader, Svenskernes valg, or “The Swedes’ Choice.” (more…)

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September 11 Special – “We Are Not All Americans”

Thursday, September 11th, 2003

As an apt accompaniment to its coverage of all of today’s “September 11” ceremonies, remembrances, etc., the New York Times is also publishing a lengthy article by Berlin correspondent Richard Bernstein entitled Foreign Views of U.S. Darken Since Sept. 11 – basically about how the Bush administration within a mere two years has managed to squander all the sympathy and good-will that was being mind-beamed by foreigners in the direction of the US in the wake of the catastrophic attacks in New York and Washington. “Gone are the days,” Bernstein writes (towards the end of the article), “when 200,000 Germans marched in Berlin to show solidarity with their American allies, or when Le Monde, the most prestigious French newspaper, could publish a large headline, ‘We Are All Americans.'”

Things have reached a point, Bernstein notes, where “more recently” the French weekly Nouvel Observateur published an editorial entitled “We Are Not All Americans.”

That sort of mention always makes my antennae pop up and go “zing!”, and my fingers scramble to my keyboard to summon my faithful search engine. (Trusty “Geegor,” if you know what I’m trying to say.) Of course Geegor found this Nouvel Observateur article on-line, and a mighty interesting piece it is, too. Problem is (and, darn it, material in the Nouvel Observateur seems to suffer from this chronically), it’s written in French.

Hey! Hooya gonna call? Why, your friendly neighborhood EuroSavant, of course! Just look under the “Savant” heading in your local Yellow Pages!

Or, if you’re interested in what the French have to say, and you’re blessed with a connection to the Internet, you could instead click on “More…” (more…)

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Belgian General Speaks His Mind

Saturday, August 16th, 2003

Belgian Lt. General Francis Briquemont: Ever heard of him? Quite probably not, for although he did emerge onto the international stage in the early 1990s, his appearance there was brief – in fact, briefer than anyone could have expected. He was placed in command in July, 1993, of 12,000 multinational troops constituting UN forces in the former Yugoslavia – in the middle of the period of inter-ethnic conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina – for a tour of duty of one year. Yet he resigned this command after only six months, in early January of 1994, claiming that his job was impossible in view of the “fantastic” gap between UN rhetoric about Bosnia and what it was actually prepared to commit manpower and resources to accomplish.

So General Briquemont speaks his mind, and backs it up with action. Now retired, he is back again, “thinking outside the box” – to put things mildly – in a pair of thoughtful articles in Belgium’s La Libre Belgique that step back and examine the implications – and the fall-out – from the Anglo-American drive last spring to go to war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and the divisions exposed by the EU’s (failed) attempt to formulate a unified response. (more…)

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The “Blonde Beasts” and the Meaning of Europe

Friday, July 11th, 2003

The Italo-German dispute continues (last covered in EuroSavant here), with calls throughout Europe (but especially from Germany) for Italian minister for economy and tourism Stefano Stefani’s resignation, and German Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder’s bold and steely determination to vacation this summer anywhere else than in Italy.

But that’s just the wrong attitude to take, Michael Naumann argues in his treatment of this whole controversy in the latest Die Zeit (entitled Die blonden Bestien – “The Blonde Beasts,” itself a sufficient shorthand for Stefani’s recent characterization of Italy’s summer German tourists). (more…)

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For the EU, the Future Is Now

Friday, June 27th, 2003

Returning to Die Zeit – truly an excellent commentary newspaper, and very generous with what it’s willing to post on-line! – the article in its latest (on-line) issue (Der letzte Gipfel – “The Last Summit”) shows that the future which the EU has feared for so long has now arrived – whether it’s ready for it or not. (more…)

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More Views on the Proposed EU Constitution

Thursday, June 26th, 2003

I’m continuing my coverage of the EU draft constitution, which was handed over last Friday by European Convention President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing to EU member-states at the Thessaloniki European summit. Now it’s in their hands, to add to and subtract from as they see fit to agree (doing so formally in an Intergovernmental Conference which is due to start in mid-October), in preparation for ratification by all member-states separately in the spring of 2004. Considering now some of the German-speaking parts of Europe, reception of the draft here has been mixed – although, crucially, German Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder has endorsed it. (more…)

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“Hands off my draft constitution!” says Giscard

Monday, June 23rd, 2003

With the presentation last Friday to the EU summit in Thessaloniki of the draft EU Constitution, the work of the European Convention headed by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing came to an end. Now the text is in the hands of the national governments of EU member-states, which will formally begin negotiations over changes to that draft at the EU Intergovernmental Conference to begin in the middle of next October. (more…)

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Constitution Coverage Coming

Saturday, June 21st, 2003

Yes, the draft EU Constitution was presented yesterday by Constitutional Convention President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing to the EU summit in Thessaloniki. It’s an important, interesting, and detailed step – although EuroSavant did cover in the last weekend in May the initial unveiling of that draft Constitution that occurred then. (Starting here with reactions from the EU member which paid the most attention to it – the UK.) In any case, apparently there were some (minor?) changes made to that draft between then and its formal, final presentation to EU leaders this weekend. Plus, it will be interesting to see how countries are lining up for and against that draft Constitution, in the run-up to the EU Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) in which member-states will negotiate changes to this draft on the way to a final version of the Constitution which will then be put up for approval by all EU states (of which there will be 25 by that point). That IGC is supposed to convene next October, and it’s supposed to finish its work by December. (Good luck!)

This certainly merits some investigation, and that will be forthcoming. For this weekend, though, what caught my eye was the continuing Belgian-American tension over the former’s “genocide law” – see tomorrow’s weblog entry.

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Václav Sphinx

Monday, June 16th, 2003

Indulge me just a little, as I leave the Czech referendum story with a bit of tidying-up: you know, the results, the reaction. Once again, Mlada Fronta Dnes splashes an over-sized headline on its front page: “ANO EU: 77,33%.” (That’s 77,33% “Yes” on a turn-out of 55,21%, so once again anti-EU spoil-sports can point out that an actual majority of eligible voters did not approve EU accession.) To which the headline adds: “Spidla rejoices; Klaus stays silent.” (more…)

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It’s Czech Referendum Day!

Friday, June 13th, 2003

The Czech EU referendum is very, very near. Sure, we know that already, but even if we didn’t, we’d know something was up from today’s front page of the leading Czech daily, Mlada Fronta Dnes. Check it out for yourself (you can download the PDF here): the whole above-the-fold area is dominated by a huge “ANO” – which, it won’t surprise you to learn, means “Yes” in Czech. Directly underneath is the caption “Historical referendum: the accession of the Czech Republic into the EU is to be decided.” For those newspaper-buyers who, nonetheless, are not so much into reading text, up above there’s a whole gallery of famous Europeans. Take your pick (now, who wouldn’t want to join their company?): Günter Grass, Luis Figo (the football player for Real Madrid, but he’s Portuguese), Antonio Banderas, Margarethe II (present occupation: Queen of Denmark), and Ornella Mutti – from Italy; anybody ever heard of her? Wow: Guess who the MFDnes editors chose in the inside article (click on “15 tvárí Unii”) to represent Britain: Rowan Atkinson, a.k.a. Mr. Bean/Johnny English! Below, you can see for youself how serious premier Vladimir Spidla is about accession: he’s shown huffing and puffing (and wearing black business socks with his shorts and sneakers!) and racing EU ambassador Ramiro Cibrian in a “Eurorun.” (more…)

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Klaus Newspaper Interview

Wednesday, June 11th, 2003

Czech President Václav Klaus doesn’t want to reveal his voting preferences in the Czech EU accession referendum, to start on Friday – although he certainly promises to vote. (Indeed, he’ll be voting soon after polls open on Friday, as will premier Spidla and ex-president Havel and their wives.) Revealing his presidential preference is not his presidential function, he says; his pres. function is “rather to give arguments, to shake up citizens so that they think about these things.”

But you know this already, since you’ve read yesterday’s EuroSavant entry. Still, on Wednesday Klaus granted an in-depth interview to Lidové noviny, his favorite newspaper. (He used to write a regular column for it.) This interview deserves in-depth examination, since it lays out many of the Czech President’s shall-we-say unconventional and even abrasive views on the referendum and on Czech EU membership in general. Maybe we’ll finally get some “asking of the tough questions,” the absence of which I decried in my long entry about the Polish referendum of last weekend!

(Before we go to “More…”: Sick of Poland? Sick of Czech? Sorry about that. Remember, EuroSavant is also versatile enough to do France, Germany, the Benelux, who-knows-what-else. We’ll get back to other parts of Europe soon, but I did want to take a good look at these once-in-a-lifetime accession referenda. Anyway, if you don’t like this weblog’s direction – e-mail me! I might be so taken aback as to actually listen to what you say!) (more…)

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Václav Klaus: Which Way Will He Vote?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2003

The countdown is on for the referendum in the Czech Republic on EU accession, to take place over next Friday and Saturday (13 and 14 June). As most of the other candidate countries have done, Czech authorities are also making use of the tactic of opening the voting centers over two days to encourage as large a turn-out as possible (although referenda in the Czech Republic do not have any legally-mandated level of participation, below which they become invalid). And the Prague authorities enjoy a further advantage: their referendum is towards the end in the series of candidate country referenda (only a couple of the Baltic countries remain), and the script has gone according to plan – all of the other countries voting before have voted “Yes” (if in some cases with distressingly-low levels of voter turn-out), so that puts further pressure on Czech voters not to show themselves to be the odd man out. (more…)

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Why Referenda Usually Just Don’t Cut It

Sunday, June 8th, 2003

Now the second and final day of Poland’s EU accession referendum is underway. Radio reports indicate that participation through Saturday ran rather short of the 25% one would hope for, at least on an accountant’s straight-line basis, to assure that final participation reaches at least 50% and therefore validity for the whole exercise. But after all, this is not some financial exercise . . . (more…)

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The EU: Poland’s Fourth Partition?

Saturday, June 7th, 2003

Here in Wroclaw, it’s a bright and sunny first day of voting in the Polish EU accession referendum. More guerrilla anti-EU material has popped up, in a last-minute attempt to change people’s minds – this time, it was in the form of posters showing the famous EU twelve-yellow-stars-on-a-dark-blue-field emblem – with a swastika in the middle, and the caption up above “Rozbior Polski” – the partition of Poland. That should strike a chord with historically-oriented Polish voters: in the famous 18th-century partitions of Poland, Poland’s neighboring states (then Prussia, Russia, and the Austrian Empire) agreed among themselves to simply reach out and grab the pieces of Polish territory that they wanted, and Poland was too weak at the time to do anything to defend herself. There were three of these land-grabs, and by the end of the third there was no more Polish land to seize any more, as it all had been taken – and Poland was not to re-emerge as an independent nation for more than a century, namely in 1918 directly after the First World War. (more…)

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Poland: The EU Accession Referendum Nears. An On-the-Scene Report

Friday, June 6th, 2003

The referendum on Poland’s accession to the European Union is very close now – it starts tomorrow, Saturday, and carries on through Sunday. As in most of the candidate states which have already held the referendum – particularly in Hungary and Slovakia – and as will most likely be the case in the one remaining significant state to do so after Poland, namely the Czech Republic next weekend, the crucial issue is not so much the referendum’s result, but rather the rate of voter turn-out. (more…)

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German Disappointment over the Draft EU Constitution

Saturday, May 31st, 2003

To round out our survey of initial national press reactions to the draft EU constitution unveiled for the public this past week, today we examine selections from out of the German press. (more…)

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