Good Looking – Poor Substance

Good Looking – Poor Substance

The Aus­tri­an news­pa­per “Die Presse” com­pared Nico­las Sarkozy to the fire brigades, which tried to extin­guish one fire after the oth­er. He was present every­where, pre­sent­ed ideas, visions and riv­et­ed the audi­ences’ atten­tion, but when he left a vac­u­um was left behind. Although Sarkozy was bustling and tried to tack­le many issues, he seemed to for­get oth­er urgent ques­tions as for instance the prob­lems in the sub­urbs of Paris.

The peace agree­ment between Geor­gia and Rus­sia leaves many ques­tions and prob­lems unsolved and could cause more con­fu­sion because of its inac­cu­ra­cy. Sarkozy pressed too hard on a Mediter­ranean Union, which nobody want­ed except him and his agrar­i­an reform is rather seen as a step back­wards than any­thing else.11“S wie Nico­las Sarkozy: Am Arm der schö­nen Car­la, auf Dis­tanz zur sprö­den Angela”, Die Presse, 30 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://diepresse.com/home/jahresrueckblick/440929/print.do (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009). In brief, the French Pres­i­den­cy has shown Europe what can be done and how it could be done, but also how it should not be done. Sarkozy man­aged to put new dynam­ics into Euro­pean pol­i­tics, but his doings with­out tak­ing care of con­se­quences has left lots of con­fu­sion. Again the news­pa­per “Die Presse” put it very blunt­ly by say­ing that Sarkozy had raised so much dust, that on one side none could see where the Euro­pean jour­ney was going and on the oth­er side the errors com­mit­ted and the emp­ty promis­es could be hid­den quite well.22“Wirbel­sturm aus dem Élysée”, Die Presse, 22 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://diepresse.com/home/meinung/kommentare/leitartikel/439724/print.do (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).

The offi­cial Aus­tria rep­re­sent­ed by Austria’s Min­is­ter for Euro­pean and Inter­na­tion­al Affairs Michael Spin­de­leg­ger, drew a rather pos­i­tive bal­ance by say­ing that the French Pres­i­den­cy proved that Europe is able to stand unit­ed in times of cri­sis.33“Sarkozy zog Bilanz der EU – Rat­spräsi­dentschaft”, Die Presse, 16 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://diepresse.com/home/politik/eu/438157/print.do (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).

The already men­tioned oppo­si­tion­al Aus­tri­an Free­dom Par­ty val­ued – through their Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Andreas Mölz­er – that the French Pres­i­den­cy had had no respect for the Irish ‘No’ and instead of cor­rect­ing the – accord­ing to their point of view – unde­sired devel­op­ments, the Pres­i­den­cy tried to force upon the mem­ber states the Lis­bon Treaty. Mölz­er said that Sarkozy could have used the Irish ‘No’ against the Lis­bon Treaty to cre­ate a bet­ter Europe, where all sov­er­eign nation-states could work on an equal lev­el.44“Mölz­er: Sarkozys Lobeshym­nen auf Liss­abon-Ver­trag – Kein Respekt vor dem Nein der Iren”, press release, avail­able at: http://www.fpoe.at/index.php?id=477&backPID=616&pS=1230767999&tt_news=23208 (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).

Modest expectations – Many critics

The expec­ta­tions in Aus­tria for the Czech Pres­i­den­cy are rather low. The media has been crit­i­ciz­ing Mirek Topolánek because of his non acknowl­edge­ment of the Lis­bon Treaty and keep­ing the oth­er mem­ber states in the dark con­cern­ing the ques­tion of the date for the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Lis­bon Treaty by the Czech gov­ern­ment.55“Europa­parla­ment: Die Prager Sphinx”, Die Presse, 14 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://diepresse.com/home/politik/eu/443875/print.do (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).

The Czech takeover of the EU-Pres­i­den­cy was high­ly crit­i­cised by the right wing Aus­tri­an Free­dom Par­ty. The main rea­sons were on the one side, the endur­ing dis­pute between Aus­tria and the Czech Repub­lic over the Benes Decrees and on the oth­er side, the dis­cus­sions in regard to the nuclear pow­er plant of Temelin. Andreas Mölz­er said the EU was mak­ing a fool of itself by still accept­ing that the Czech Repub­lic was hold­ing on to the Benes Decrees, which proved to be against the so called “com­mu­ni­ty of val­ues” of the Euro­pean Union. He also accused the Czechs of still dis­crim­i­nat­ing against the Ger­man minori­ties in dai­ly life.66“Mölz­er: Mit Tschechien übern­immt Land mit Völk­er­mord­dekreten Vor­sitz in EU –‘Wertege­mein­schaft’”, press release, avail­able at: http://www.fpoe.at/index.php?id=477&backPID=616&tt_news=25472 (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).

Ulrike Lunacek, for­eign spokesman of the Greens, stat­ed that she expect­ed the Czech Pres­i­den­cy to become “pos­i­tive” and high­light­ed the work of the Czech Green Par­ty in the fields of cli­mate change and the Lis­bon Treaty.77“Grüne hof­fen auf pos­i­tive tschechis­che EU-Präsi­dentschaft”, press release, avail­able at: http://www.gruene.at/aussenpolitik/artikel/lesen/39026/ (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).

Gen­er­al­ly it is expect­ed that under the Czech Pres­i­den­cy the Czechs will rat­i­fy the Lis­bon Treaty.

    Footnotes

  • 1“S wie Nico­las Sarkozy: Am Arm der schö­nen Car­la, auf Dis­tanz zur sprö­den Angela”, Die Presse, 30 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://diepresse.com/home/jahresrueckblick/440929/print.do (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).
  • 2“Wirbel­sturm aus dem Élysée”, Die Presse, 22 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://diepresse.com/home/meinung/kommentare/leitartikel/439724/print.do (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).
  • 3“Sarkozy zog Bilanz der EU – Rat­spräsi­dentschaft”, Die Presse, 16 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://diepresse.com/home/politik/eu/438157/print.do (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).
  • 4“Mölz­er: Sarkozys Lobeshym­nen auf Liss­abon-Ver­trag – Kein Respekt vor dem Nein der Iren”, press release, avail­able at: http://www.fpoe.at/index.php?id=477&backPID=616&pS=1230767999&tt_news=23208 (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).
  • 5“Europa­parla­ment: Die Prager Sphinx”, Die Presse, 14 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://diepresse.com/home/politik/eu/443875/print.do (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).
  • 6“Mölz­er: Mit Tschechien übern­immt Land mit Völk­er­mord­dekreten Vor­sitz in EU –‘Wertege­mein­schaft’”, press release, avail­able at: http://www.fpoe.at/index.php?id=477&backPID=616&tt_news=25472 (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).
  • 7“Grüne hof­fen auf pos­i­tive tschechis­che EU-Präsi­dentschaft”, press release, avail­able at: http://www.gruene.at/aussenpolitik/artikel/lesen/39026/ (last access: 17 Feb­ru­ary 2009).