EU president likens integration supporters to Soviet communists

The Czech Republic holds the EU's rotating presidency but this did not stop Klaus telling EU lawmakers unused to eurosceptic speeches.

EU president likens integration supporters to Soviet communists
Czech President Vaclav Klaus likened supporters of greater European Union integration to communists of the Soviet era on Thursday.

The Czech Republic holds the EU's rotating presidency but this did not stop Klaus telling EU lawmakers unused to eurosceptic speeches that their parliament intervened too much in people's lives.

A treaty meant to streamline the bloc's creaking institutions would only make things worse, he said.

Klaus said he rejected the "uncriticisable assumption that there is only one possible and correct future of ... deeper and deeper integration".

"Not so long ago in our part of Europe we lived in a political system that allowed no alternative and therefore no parliamentary opposition," Klaus said, referring to the communist regimes that fell in 1989.

"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," Klaus said.

Klaus's euroscepticism has irritated many in the EU even though his post is largely ceremonial. The Czech Republic holds the EU presidency for the first half of 2009.

Klaus said that although he believed there was no alternative to EU membership for the Czechs, EU integration could take many different forms.

He repeated his criticism of the Lisbon treaty on institutional reform and refused to say whether he would sign it. The Czech senate is still to vote on the treaty, probably in April.

"I am not really ready to answer -- a chess player does not announce his next moves," he told a news conference.

The Czech Republic is regarded as one of the last obstacles to the treaty taking effect. Ireland has rejected the charter in a national referendum and is to vote on it again this year. The treaty must be approved by all 27 member states to take effect.

Klaus also criticised the EU's response to the economic crisis and said the bloc needed less regulation, not more.

"We must say openly that the present economic system of the EU is a system of a suppressed market, a system of a permanently strengthening, centrally controlled economy.

"Although history has more than clearly proven that this is a dead end, we find ourselves walking the same path once again," he said.

The president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, offered an ironic comment immediately after Klaus's speech.

"Thank God we live in a European democracy in which everybody can express his or her own opinion ... In a parliament of the past I am sure you would not have been able to give this speech," Poettering told the assembly, earning applause.

Reuters
Last Mod: 20 Şubat 2009, 08:55
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