VISEGRAD: Presidential hopeful announces Czech exit from EU

By bne IntelliNews October 24, 2012

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A hopeful looking to take part in the Czech Republic's first direct presidential elections announced in a mock speech on October 23 that the country has left the EU, managing at the same time to lampoon Vaclav Havel, Czechoslovakia's first post-communist president, whose death late last year was mourned across the country.

Assistant to outgoing president and virulent eurosceptic, Vaclav Klaus, Ladislav Jakl published a mock "New Year's Speech" in which he announced that the Czech Republic has withdrawn from 27-member bloc, reports CTK. "This morning, I sent a letter on behalf of the Czech Republic to the president of the European Council saying that as of Monday, the Czech Republic is leaving the European Union, becoming again an independent, sovereign state," Jakl says on a video posted on YouTube.

Appealing to the wide sense of discomfort with the EU in the country, Jakl said that membership has done "more harm than good" to the Czech Republic. Stating that the country is ready to cooperate with anyone, but only under mutually advantageous conditions, the candidate for the marginal, extra-parliamentary Free Citizens' Party (SOS) said: "The time of the Brussels dictate is over."

"The EU is no space of cooperation and harmony, but the space of a growing tension between social groups and nations," Jakl said at the beginning of his speech.

Imitating Vaclav Havel's first speech as post-communist president, delivered on January 1, 1990, Jakl said: "No, the European Union is not flourishing." Twenty two years ago, Havel told the nation, "No, your country is not flourishing."

Jakl has yet to secure the 50,000 signatures needed to allow him to join the presidential race, although his boss Klaus - who has been an outspoken critic of Brussels throughout his eight-year tenure in Prague Castle, even comparing it to the Soviet Union on more than one occasion - has put pen to paper and signed his support. That said, Klaus has never baulked at using crude populist tactics during his political career. According to the latest polls, former prime ministers Jan Fischer and Milos Zeman are the favourites for the country's first ever direct presidential election set for January, while six others have met the required conditions.

On Sunday, October 29, SOS will stage a demonstration for the "freedom" of the Czech Republic. "We will recall again the day of our becoming independent from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the establishment of the sovereign Czecho-Slovakia in 1918," SOS spokeswoman Tereza Melisova said. "We will speak in favour of the Czech Republic's becoming independent from the EU."

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