Sunday, January 4, 2009
The European Union’s new figurehead believes that climate change is a dangerous myth and has compared the union to a Communist state.
The views of President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic, 67, have left the government of Mirek Topolanek, his bitter opponent, determined to keep him as far away as possible from the EU presidency, which it took over from France yesterday.
The Czech president, who caused a diplomatic incident by dining with opponents of the EU’s Lisbon treaty on a recent visit to Ireland, has a largely ceremonial role.
But there are already fears that, after the dynamic EU presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy – including his hyper-active attempts at international diplomacy over the credit crisis and Georgia as well as an historic agreement to cut greenhouse gases – the Czech effort will be mired in infighting and overshadowed by the platform it will give to Mr Klaus and his controversial views.
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Czech diplomats in Brussels insist that Mr Klaus is not a big part of their plans and are trying to limit him to one speech to the European Parliament in February and chairing one international summit, either the EU-Canada or EU-Russia meeting.
They are pinning their hopes on a lunch between Mr Klaus and Mr Topolanek on January 5, which they hope will see both parties agree a truce after the President’s unsuccessful attempt to unseat his rival as Prime Minister at a party conference last month.