There is a deep gap between the governing coalition and the opposition for change on the issue of the introduction of postal elections. And the opposition will mostly agree with the conservative part of the government coalition in opposing the introduction of the euro, the approval of marriage for all and the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.
Jiří Pehe: Trampling around the euro and value issues weakens the Czech Republic in terms of security
Those who oppose the introduction of the euro, the approval of marriage for same-sex couples, the Istanbul Convention and the correspondence election, deny that their positions have a dimension other than domestic. It is said to be only a domestic political and values battle between conservatives and liberals, or progressives.
But politics also has a symbolic dimension. And the positions of the political scene on the topics discussed can actually show the country as vulnerable in the world of geopolitics.
For example, the adoption of the euro today is not only an economic issue, but a step that firmly places the country in the hard core of the European Union and has geopolitical implications. The most important thing is that it is basically impossible for a country that is a member of the eurozone to withdraw from the Union, which greatly limits the possibilities of populists on the domestic political scene to fence with leaving the EU.
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It is possible to argue that if Great Britain had been a member of the Eurozone at the time the Brexit debate broke out, it almost certainly would not have left the EU. Not only because of the higher level of integration achieved with the rest of the EU, but also because of too high transaction costs.
The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, which have not yet adopted the common European currency, although they committed to this in the accession treaties, remain vulnerable to the pressures of populists, often supported by Moscow, who want to either weaken their countries’ connection with the EU as much as possible, or leave the EU straight away get off
The post-communist countries of Eastern Europe form islands in the EU also because of their opposition to marriage for all or the ratification of the Istanbul Treaty. And some also because of their restrictive measures towards sexual minorities. In addition, the countries of the Visegrad Group have earned a bad reputation in the EU also because of their non-solidarity positions on the solution to migration. Some of them also due to violation of the principles of the rule of law.
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At a time when Russia has launched a war in Ukraine and is suggesting that it might not stop at its western borders, such behavior by post-communist EU member states has a geopolitical dimension that Moscow surely understands well. It shows that these countries are not on the same page with the European West, that their integration with the rest of the EU is not yet solid. They are vulnerable.
This can be used, which Moscow is already doing in Hungary and Slovakia. It is no coincidence that it draws these countries into its value orbit in the form of agreement with them on opposition to sexual minorities and marriage for all. At the same time, Slovakia is very lucky to have adopted the euro in 2009, otherwise it would be even more vulnerable to the current government’s pro-Russian moves.
It is certain that even the missteps of the current Czech government coalition on the issues of adopting the euro, marriage for all, the Istanbul Convention or postal elections are watched with interest in Russia. It shows that the Czech Republic remains to a certain extent a weak link in the EU and that, especially if populists come to power here, it will be possible to play out the Slovak and Hungarian scenario here as well.
The author works at New York University Prague
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