Green, Elena, The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs
With a presidency as old as this new year, and the worst of the global economic crisis looming ahead, this issue opens with sights set on what is to come. This gloomy forecast will hopefully brighten, however, with Obama leading the United States as the 44th president. And the Czech Republic, as the 103rd member-state to hold the EU's six-month rotating presidency, also feels the weight of global responsibility.
We speak, therefore, of a Sweet'n Low Czech EU presidency. In the fall of last year, a controversial advertising campaign for the presidency depicted Czech national figures tossing around a sugar cube (a Czech invention) under the slogan that the Czechs will "sweeten Europe." While harmless in English, in Czech the phrase's semantics carries a negative connotation--to make something more difficult for someone.
While the government retracted this poorly thought out advertising campaign, a bitter taste remains. Will the Czechs be able to balance their national interests with EU interests and lead the twenty-seven member organization forward? And in the face of global financial lows, will they be able to maintain both transatlantic cooperation and cooperation within the Union?
We pose these questions because what Obama has pushed for in America is lacking here in the Czech Republic: faith in the abilities of government. On the upside, there is nothing like a crisis to spur an individual or group of individuals to achieve the unexpected.
It's natural then, for this issue to focus its attention on the Central European perspective of the global economic crisis as well as on the historical Czech EU presidency. …