The Czechs will vote to elect a new president on Sunday and Vaclav Klaus will step down, as he cannot run for a third term. His departure will probably be a relief for the ‘politically correct’ European establishment who saw him as a eurosceptic and a major troublemaker.
I always made the distinction between the primitive euroscepticism, which has in power base in the UK, and the enlightened euroscepticism, of which Klaus is definitely the front man.
I may be oversimplifying. That what we journalists do most of our time.
Not being an eurosceptic myself, I cannot say that I sympathised with Klaus when he was giving the EU hell, like when he was making obstructions to the Lisbon Treaty.
But I will miss him.
I will always remember when Klaus visited my country Bulgaria in 2004. He made a speech in a Sofia university. I wrote a short article that can still be found in the internet.
The students didn’t have a clue who this gentleman was. He started speaking about the democratic deficit in the EU. The students first became strangely silent. Soon they were applauding him like a rock star.
Six months later I was not surprised when the French and the Dutch rejected the European Constitution at referendums.
A few years later I had a Slovak female colleague with EurActiv who told me Klaus was her professor in the university and that she was “in love with him” as most of the students. I told her I understood.
The Slovak TV interviewed me today on Klaus. I told them that as an Eastern European, I remember the Czechoslovaks as the greatest dissidents and iconoclasts, and that for me it was only natural that they brought this healthy tradition in the EU.
Klaus will soon be gone, but the democratic deficit will remain. I wish I will see students applaud Van Rompuy or Barroso, anywhere in Europe, as they applauded Klaus in Sofia.
“La pensée unique” is dangerous I think. Especially ahead of EU elections.