Czech Press: “At a Dead End”

The Czech on-line press has not paid too much attention to the recent Brussels EU summit. The exception is Hospodarske noviny, the country’s leading business newspaper. HN is no more impressed by the results out of Brussels than were the French or Dutch press; the headline reads International Conference Is As Yet at a Dead End. In fact, the article reminds us that things have bogged down this way despite four EU meetings intended to get things moving with the approval of the EU Constitution: There were the summits of heads of state/government in Rome and now in Brussels, yes, but each of those also had a meeting of EU foreign ministers attached to it, namely at Rome and Luxembourg. And so far – nothing.

As you would expect, a specifically-Czech tidbit is thrown into Hospodarske noviny’s reporting: Czech foreign minister Cyril Svoboda has been lobbying at these events to prevent the EU “Minister of Foreign Affairs,” envisaged in the draft Constitution, from actually having that title. According to Svoboda, much better would be something less grandiose, like “Foreign Policy Representative.” “Minister,” you see, implies a sovereign state – and we don’t want to give any support to the notion that this Constitution will in any way create a sovereign state. (Actually, within the Czech Republic it is primarily President Václav Klaus and his opposition ODS party who are sticklers on points such as this; Svoboda’s campaign reflects his government’s weak position in the Czech legislature, which forces that government to keep the ODS sweet by taking up its causes in this way at the EU level.)

The HN article speaks of a compromise “package” that EU President Silvio Berlusconi undertook at the Brussels summit to fashion, which would be examined by the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Rome on 28/29 November, to prepare it hopefully for acceptance at the end-of-presidency EU summit of 12/13 December. It also mentions the mid-November “mini-summit” that Berlusconi wanted to hold to help him along with this; but that last bit has probably by now been overtaken by events, given the reluctance to meet yet again on the part of EU government heads that emerged in the French and Dutch press.

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