Saturday, 18 August 2018

Prague should condemn Hungary, Poland's attack on democracy

25 July 2017

Prague, July 24 (CTK) - The Czechs harm their own position by being active members of the Visegrad Four (V4) group now that the rule of law and liberal democracy have been attacked in Hungary and Poland, Jiri Pehe writes in Pravo on Monday, adding that Czech leaders should at least distance themselves from the attacks.

The fourth member of the V4, a grouping of post-communist central European countries, is Slovakia.

Not a single glimpse of criticism was heard from the Czech government in recent days when the Polish parliament passed a bill further reducing courts' independence from the political power, which provoked a new wave of massive protests in Poland and sharp criticism across the EU, Pehe writes.

The Czech government's failure to react had to be compensated by top representatives of Czech judiciary with their open letter condemning the Polish judicial reform, he writes.

It is hard to say what Czech politicians expect from further cooperation within "this kind of V4," Pehe continues.

He says the V4's reputation in the EU has been deteriorating not only because of Hungary and Poland's excesses, but also due to the V4's approach to the migration crisis, which has made the European Commission launch proceedings against Prague, Budapest and Warsaw for a violation of EU rules.

True, Brussels' approach to migration is far from flawless itself. However, Prague's belief that its joint drive with Hungary and Poland raises its own weight in Europe amounts to delusion, since the rest of the EU increasingly tends to consider Hungary and Poland "non-European" countries, Pehe writes.

Unlike them, the Czech Republic still abides to democracy and the rule of law for the time being. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka's recent joint appearances together with his Polish and Hungarian counterparts, at which the latter declared a crusade against the different quality of foods on the western and the V4 markets, almost ridiculously illustrated the chaotic priorities and the chaotic choice of allies by the Czechs, Pehe writes.

More and more dominated by two authoritarian regimes, the V4 definitely does not boost the Czech Republic's international weight. Just the opposite is true, Pehe writes.

Prague need not necessarily call for the V4 to be abolished. After all, the V4's current troubles are not troubles with Poles or Hungarians but with the two countries' regimes, which may change one day, Pehe writes.

Nevertheless, the Czechs should suspend their participation in the V4 at least until the situation in Poland and Hungary changes to the better, he writes.

This would be a positive and honest signal the Czech Republic, which is still a democratic country, would send to democratic-minded people in Hungary and Poland, showing them that Prague does not want to legitimise authoritarian tendencies in the two countries any more, Pehe concludes.

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