Czech President Vaclav Klaus has taken his criticism of European integration to new heights. Many of the European Parliament’s members refused to sit through his speech.
Later, reactions varied. Some said Klaus did not know how democracy works, that his view of Europe was twisted, his approach to politics fantastical and boorish. At least one member, however, did credit his assertion that voters and their European representatives were alienated. Klaus told the parliament it meddled where it should not, in too many aspects of people’s lives. Fellow eurosceptics had a field day. Klaus said: “Without a European people, reinforcing the European Parliament’s role is not a solution.” He stressed the need to guarantee freedom and create prosperity. He likened EU control to that of the former Soviet Union and said “political manipulation of the market” had caused today’s economic crisis. He repeated his criticism of the Lisbon reform treaty and would not say whether he would sign it: “This is really a question to which I am not ready to answer because I always say that a chess player does not announce his next move.” Klaus is a popular president at home. However, during the Czech Republic tenure of the EU presidency for the first half of this year, the government in Prague has assigned few of the presidency tasks to him.