By Green, Elena
The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs , Vol. 12, No. 2
Since our last publication, the Czech Republic has given an abrupt goodbye to one head of state and a warm welcome to another. And while the former was the CR's own Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, the latter was US President Barack Obama. On the 24th of March, the lower house of the Czech parliament cast a vote of no-confidence against Topolanek's centre-right government, stripping the country half-way through its first EU presidency of, most importantly, its credibility. In these troubling economic times, this is one loss a country simply does not want to suffer. And as that aforementioned presidential visitor of Prague knows, confidence and credibility are in short supply.
This issue of The New Presence tackles these two themes, confidence and credibilty, as they relate to the global problems we face today. But as many of our contributors reveal, referring to these troubles as today's problems is a misnomer that overlooks their often historic nature. In our section on immigration, the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimir Spidla, notes that xenophobia still influences how some EU member-states approach immigration from third (non-EU) countries. As with every EU policy endeavor, the inability to achieve consensus will undermine confidence in the bloc's stated purpose to share common beliefs and values.
Further questions of confidence and credibility rise as we enter a section on the Middle East. Irena Kalhousova, an analyst at the Czech think-tank the Association of International Affairs, asks: how the people of Israel and Palestine can possibly remedy--let alone tackle--a conflict decades-long if their governments are incredible in the eyes of each other and lack the confidence of their people? …