gaffe-o-meter-2s1As reported by the Irish Times:

[…] all eyes were on the new president of the European Council, Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek. Outlining his priorities for the next six months, he surprised MEPs by announcing that if a referendum were held on the Lisbon Treaty in the Czech Republic, the Czechs would reject it like the Irish.

He described the treaty as average and “somewhat worse than the Nice Treaty”

What is Topolanek on about? While what he might say about the Czechs and a referendum might be true, but is he deliberately setting out to damage the prospects of a Yes in Ireland? As for the statement that the Treaty of Lisbon is somewhat worse than Nice – that’s just daft from a politician whose party has helped its passage through the Czech Parliament.

Apologies it’s taken me so long to notice this – rather hidden by all the art exhibition stuff.


  1. After the latest delays by the Czech Government to ratify the Lisbon Treaty for wholly unrelated reasons, I suggest upgrading the Presidency’s gaff-o-meter score to max.

  2. Damian Hockney

    …a b it po-faced John! And surely it is NOT the job of leaders of nations to damage their own interests in the pursuit of an EU agenda. In fact, it is the opposite and it is in the interests of the EU that truth and opinion should not be supressed. If leaders see something going wrong they should state it. Or are we saying that there should be no stating of the facts or truth in a fanatical pursuit of the agenda? Must all else be sacrificed and suppressed – truth, opinion, honesty? The ultimate gaffe is surely when it is admitted that this is the aim and approach and that all else must be sacrificed. That is one reason why there is so much hostility towards the EU

  3. If the Czechs are so bad; “this Presidency is completely and utterly incompetent as far as I can tell”, what did the previous presidency achieve that was so important, or that the Czechs should try to surpass? What did, for instance, Sarko achieve that we should celebrate?

    Obviously you are free to disparage whoever you like, it’s just that it comes across like you think the Czechs should ‘know their place’ and do what they’re told.

    I’m sure you recognise that, being a nationalist, anything that puts sand in the gearbox of European integration is the cause of much schadenfreude!

    My advice to you is: There’s probably no hope in the EU, so stop worrying about it and enjoy your life. 🙂

  4. Bully them? Me, a little blogger with no resources writing in my free time? They are a national government, people who are supposed to know better. This Presidency is completely and utterly incompetent as far as I can tell, and, frankly they deserve all the critique they are getting.

    Let’s also turn this around: Trooper you’re never going to have pity on any UK politician for showing incompetence, so why should I have pity on Topolanek?

  5. Why don’t you leave the Czechs alone for a moment, instead of trying to bully them into doing what they’re told?

    Regarding the Lisbon treaty, as an Englishman this will always be a symbol of the arrrogance and contempt for democracy displayed by the politcal parties who told the people there would be a referendum.

    The Lisbon Treaty marks the final, irrefutable truth that the EU is the enemy of democracy and liberty.

  6. Damian – please note that the Gaffe-o-Meter is judging the Czech Presidency on their ability to get their work done as a Presidency. Rightly or wrongly, the Presidency is supposed to make sure that the agenda in the Council is smooth for 6 months, that legislation passes in a smooth manner. It’s a little bit of agenda setting, and plenty of mundane stuff. But that’s the yardstick by which I judge the Czechs.

    The Presidency is not the place to poke fun at the institutions, as Topolanek and co are doing.

  7. Damian Hockney

    Jon, you only commit a gaffe if what you do truly damages your own interests or intended course of action – the Czech Prime Minister’s statement is the opposite of a gaffe if you believe that it has damaged Ireland’s chances of voting ‘Yes’!…

  8. Jon,

    Topolanek has not helped the passage of the Lisbon Treaty through the Czech Parliament. Instead his government party, the ODS, keeps inventing new delays, such as the long detour through the Constitutional Court (cleared), and holding the Lisbon Treaty hostage to the US missile defence agreement, demanding promises by the Social Democratic opposition not to disturb the government coalition during the Czech Council Presidency etc.

    The latest news reports indicate that they have invented some new delays beyond 3 February 2009, promised a while back.

    The Czech Parliament is the only one of the ratifying national parliaments not to have voted on the Lisbon Treaty or even to have debated it extensively.

    This, from the member state holding the Council Presidency, with the responsibility to advance the important dossiers for the EU as a whole, is an almost unprecedented low-water mark.

    Topolanek’s claim that the Lisbon Treaty is worse than the Treaty of Nice is absurd, if you accept that a European Union of 27 (or more) member states needs to evolve beoynd the rules initially devised for six.

    With the dynamic duo, Klaus and Topolanek, the Czech Republic is damaging its standing as a member of the European Union with unprecedented speed and force. Even if many Czechs are less than enthusiastic about supranational integration, I imagine that few of them want their leaders to damage the reputation of their country.

    By the way, Energy is one of the three E’s or priorities of the Czech Council Presidency. Surely, someone must have told the Prime Minister that the new Energy Title and Article 194 TFEU would improve the EU’s decision making on energy policy issues(?)

    If not, the Czech government’s officials and advisors are incompetent. If they have, the Prime Minister’s interpretation of facts is idiosyncratic (to use the kindest expression I manage to find).

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