An Open Letter to Officials of the European Union: From a Czech Citizen

Article excerpt

Earlier this year, our country assumed the presidency of the European Union (EU). To many of you, our attitude and approach can politely be described as somewhat disconcerting. As a Czech citizen, allow me to give you an explanation.

From our birth as a nation in 1918, we Czechs have moved through history via big steps rather than smooth strides. And in 1989, we finally became free. However, freedom is not the same thing as democracy.

We remain handicapped by post-communist morals as well as by a history which punished those who begged to differ. Our reaction has been to withdraw into one's self. We shun giving something for nothing, since basic principles count for very little. True, we are bothered by omnipresent post-communist corruption, but just as with everything else, we shrug our shoulders. Seventy percent of us never go to vote.

For us, rulers and empires never signified anything good. We've had our share of them. When someone came to liberate us and we waved their flag, it was only a matter of time till someone else made us pay for it. That is why we mock great powers over our (very good) beer, be they old Austria, Germany or Russia. For many of us, Brussels and the EU tap into this sensitivity; another distant ruler with laws that no one really bothered to explain. …