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ALDE group react to remarks by Czech President Klaus

19. 2. 2009 - alde

Reacting to the speech of the Czech President in the European Parliament today, Graham Watson, ALDE group leader acknowledged that he made some fair points on the importance of carrying the trust of EU citizens but was arrogant and ignorant in his depiction of the European Parliament:

"It is appropriate that the Head of State of the country holding the Presidency should address Parliament. His address was controversial but frank and some of the reactions to it exaggerated. There were some kernels of truth in what President Klaus said about the distance between the voters and the EP to which MEPs should pay heed. Nonetheless, he fails to appreciate how EU democracy works, nor how the Lisbon Treaty would change it for the better.

Vaclav Klaus' assertion that democracy and freedom is more highly valued by those who experienced communism is regrettably arrogant, as is his assertion that the current recession is due to the growth of what he called "a centrally controlled economy" in the EU. However, I have no doubt that many Czechs also disagree with him on these matters. Indeed, many public opinion surveys suggest that the views and wishes of most Czechs are better represented in the European Parliament than in the Presidential Palace in Prague".

Andrew Duff MEP, UEF President and ALDE constitutional affairs spokesperson also said he is astonished by the profound lack of understanding of the European Union shown by Czech President Vaclav Klaus in his speech to the European Parliament today.

"President Klaus should be thanked for being such an undiplomatic head of state. His bold speech certainly enlivened this morning's session. The astonishing thing, however, is that Mr Klaus seemed to blame the Union for not having an executive government which could be held properly to account by the European Parliament. Is he a closet federalist, after all?

"As things stand, Mr Klaus demeans the legitimacy of the European Parliament, but has no alternative democratic solution to offer. Does he think that a curious assemblage of 27 different national parliaments could possibly exercise the scrutiny, budgetary and legislative powers of the European Parliament with greater effect?

"The top priority of the EU is to see the Lisbon treaty ratified. When everyone else is drawing the conclusion that Europeans will be stronger together, it is sad to see the presiding head of state of the Union pulling in the opposite direction."