Put to the Test: Czech Politics in the Global Arena: Over the Course of the Next Six Months, Whoever Cares for the Czech's National Interests Should Pay Close Attention to Their Successes and Failures as They Stand at the Helm of the EU's Presidency

Article excerpt

The first days of the Czech presidency were already unexpectedly busy. Any assumptions that the Czech presidency will limit itself to "moderating" as Sarkozy stated were completely dispelled. Just as France was forced to abandon its original priorities due to the crises at that time--the conflict in the Caucasus, the collapse of global financial mechanisms, and the beginning of an economic recession--the Czech Republic swiftly adapted its agenda in the first hours of its presidency.

This time we saw an explosion of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza strip, and a Russian threat to cutoff gas to the EU because of conflict with Ukraine. Czech politicians thereby entered global politics "without a warm-up." Were they startled? I think not. Their undeclared intention was to influence global politics through the EU presidency anyway. These issues, however, appeared suddenly and with great significance for Europe and the rest the world. It is necessary, therefore, to concentrate on them more than any other issue, despite the fact that no one in the world believes that (regardless of who holds the presidency) the EU has either the power or ability to solve any of them.

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TOO MUCH IS AT STAKE, MODERATING IS NOT ENOUGH

And so, simply "moderating" will not suffice. Besides, the other significant inherited global concern at this time--the need to stop the global economic recession and prevent it from becoming a social crisis--requires action, ingenuity, and experience from the presiding EU country. The Czech Republic cannot, therefore, simply organize meetings and conferences, and resign itself to a "moderating" role. As the economic crisis progresses throughout the year, the Czech Republic will need to lead Europe into action.

The present financial crisis and its effects on each respective European state clearly reveals that the EU's discussions for a common anti-crisis strategy are by no means over. Some mechanism or system is needed that will help devise strategies to respond to market problems before they explode into full-blown crises in the future. The Czech Republic could not have predicted such an enormous task in advance!

There is, however, a sphere in which the representatives of the Czech presidency knew (ahead of time) of the historic nature of their newfound global role. The first months of this year are critical for determining the shape of the transatlantic relationship between Europe (rather the EU) and post-Bush America. These first months will decide whether Europe will act towards Obama's America as a unified homogeneous unit capable of equal partnership. The presiding country of the EU, or rather its government, will have crucial influence in this historic moment of European-US relations.

Until now, the Czech government has built its own transatlantic relations with Bush's America without any visible aspiration to act in conjunction with "Old Europe. …