February 20, 2009
Czech President Vaclav Klaus today compared supporters of greater European Union integration to Soviet-era communists.
As leader of the Czech Republic he holds the EU’s rotating presidency, but that did not stop Mr Klaus kicking aside diplomatic niceties to tell EU lawmakers their parliament intervened too much in people’s lives.
The controversial Lisbon Treaty, meant to streamline the bloc’s creaking institutions, would only make things worse, he said.
In his attack, delivered at the European Parliament in Brussels, he branded the EU an undemocratic and elitist project comparable to Soviet dictatorships that forbade free thought.
He added: ‘Here in the European Parliament there is only one single alternative, and those who dare think about a different option are labelled as enemies of European integration.’
His speech provoked boos from many lawmakers, some of whom walked out, but applause from a minority of nationalists.
Klaus has long been one of the most strident critics of the EU and is refusing to fly its flag over his official seat in Prague during the six-month Czech presidency.