Interview: Czech government ‘not fighting for survival’

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The EU doesn’t need to worry about internal political in-fighting in the Czech Republic during its upcoming presidency of the bloc as the country has seen much worse in times past, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek told EURACTIV Czech Republic in an exclusive interview.

The Czech prime minister, who will hold the six-month, rotating EU presidency from 1 January, explained that for people familiar with Czech politics, his government was rather stable, or at least “not worse” than any previous cabinet over the last twelve years. 

Topolánek, chairman of the right-wing, neoliberal ODS party, cited his Social Democratic predecessor Ji?í Paroubek as an example of this. Paroubek depended upon the vote of a single independent MP to survive various no-confidence votes. 

“If I want to be ironic, I can say that a caretaker government would lead the European Union even better than a government that still has to implement various steps of its […] programme back home. However, I do not think this will be the case,” Topolánek said. 

The Czech PM also dismissed concerns that the often Eurosceptic outlook of Czech President Václav Klaus would undermine the presidency’s credibility. He described Klaus as a “democrat” and a “professional” who would never put EU affairs at risk, and said he would never stop explaining this to his European counterparts. 

“Fascination with Klaus is, as I sometimes tell them, obsessive,” said Topolánek. 

Regarding the Czech EU Presidency’s priorities, which he described as “ambitious”, the ODS chairman singled out the Eastern Partnership (EURACTIV 04/12/08), commenting on the Union’s relations with Russia in this context. 

“The re-emergence of Russia represents an important element in foreign policy and a big challenge. Its policy is very assertive and it tries to intervene in EU security and energy policies. Russia wants to become a superpower again. For us, this represents a big challenge,” the Czech prime minister stated. 

Topolánek also expressed hope that the drafting of Croatia’s EU accession treaty would begin under his watch. In his opinion, Croatia will be the last country to be able to join the Union after a relatively short negotiating period. 

To read the interview in full, please click here.

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