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Czech Foreign Policy since 1990 From the Euro-Atlantic consensus to a deep identity crisis? David Král, EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy Budapest,

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Presentation on theme: "Czech Foreign Policy since 1990 From the Euro-Atlantic consensus to a deep identity crisis? David Král, EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy Budapest,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Czech Foreign Policy since 1990 From the Euro-Atlantic consensus to a deep identity crisis? David Král, EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy Budapest, May 2010

2 The two phases of the Czech foreign policy after 1990 Phase 1: The Euro-Atlantic consensus Accession to NATO and the EU primary (and probably the only) foreign policy objectives In fact it was consensus -1: the Communist party always disputed integration to EU and NATO, but ultimately more opposed to NATO Right (ODS) preferred NATO, while Left (CSSD) the EU- this structural cleavage intensified after 2004 Relations with neighbours arguably more important than today

3 Phase 2: We are in, what’s next? Post accession fatigue/inertia/indifference: Lack of vision on part of political representation, polarisation across political spectrum Desperate search for “added value”, “niche” Lack of a strategic concept (foreign policy priorities only for 2003-2006, national security strategy not amended since 2003) The only “boost” of foreign policy thinking: the Czech EU presidency

4 Characteristics of the Czech foreign policy today Lack of salience Lack of consensus among stakeholders Lack of coherence Lack of strategic concept Exploitation of foreign policy issues for domestic purposes

5 Lack of salience FP only a secondary issue Fostered by a relative indifference of public opinion (shifting perception of security threats) Lack of expertise among the politicians and political parties’ ranks Linking foreign policy issues to domestic ones (debate on the Czech missions and healthcare fees, shooting down the government during the EU presidency…)

6 Lack of consensus No inter-party debate nor expert nor public debate on the foreign policy priorities Diverging views on important issues: Transatlantic relations Russia China Security arrangements (radar, role of NATO vs. EU, participation in missions abroad, NATO strategic concept) Middle East

7 Areas where there is relative consensus EU Enlargement: All political parties support in principle All political parties except KDU-CSL support Turkish accession Western Balkans considered an overarching priority Eastern partnership: in principle, but lack of vision on the contents and possible involvement of Russia Reality always does not match rhetoric (Czech EU presidency, visa issues)

8 Lack of coherence Multitude of stakeholders: Political parties Government (often a coalition) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, line ministries Parliament President Businesses and NGOs (third sector) Often sending different or even contradictory messages (strike against Yugoslavia 1999, Iraq, Kosovo, Russian- Georgian conflict…) This results in a relative lack of credibility vis-à-vis the main partners (EU and NATO), limits the negotiating weight

9 Stakeholders – political parties Left – right cleavage clearly visible Diverging attitudes to international relations at large: Atlanticists (ODS, largely also TOP 09) Europeanists (CSSD) Internationalists (KDU-CSL, Greens) Isolationists (Communist Party)

10 Stakeholders – government and parliament Governments are often coalitions This results in accepting the “lowest denominator” position (Iraq, ESDP) Foreign policy issues are often not consensual even within the government (Iraq, Kosovo) Stances often reactive than pro-active (resulting from the lack of strategy) Parliament: generally very apathetic, doesn’t discuss foreign policy, except for visible issues (missions)

11 Stakeholders - president Much more important role than one would constitutionally assume Havel: high international reputation, close links especially to Clinton administration – “Euro-Atlanticist” president Klaus: autonomous foreign policy discourse, often goes against the official governmental position (“sovereignist president”) Government – President co-habitation in foreign policy extremely complex – creates negative precedents

12 Stakeholders – Ministry of Foreign Affairs The bearer of continuity in foreign policy Strong expertise but not sufficient political backing Open to co-operation with NGO sector, even cross- fertilisation (legacy of dissidents) Diplomatic representation still relatively big compared to the size of the country – legacy of active Czechoslovak diplomacy?

13 NGOs and businesses NGOs: humanitarian and human rights NGOs relatively big influence on the MFA and political representation – more reflected during Right-wing governments Businesses: important stakeholders especially in energy sector and industry  economic diplomacy relatively strong, supported by CzechTrade and CzechInvest – the two go often against each other, not clear which one prevails

14 So which issues are important in terms of Czech FP? Difficult to determine due to the lack of consensus and lack of strategic debate after EU accession Selected on an ad-hoc basis, without broader political consultations among different actors External relations priorities of the Czech presidency could serve as a guidance, but picture might look different if there was Left-wing government

15 Transatlantic relations More important for Right wing parties Paradoxically, the change of US administration aggravated relations with the Czech Republic: Withdrawal from missile defence shield Different ideas of tackling economic crisis (“road to hell”) Reluctance to accept Guantanamo prisoners Diverging attitudes towards climate change (Obama more open) Feeling of “loss of interest” in Central Europe, Czech Republic not considered a crucial ally anymore

16 EU enlargement More rhetoric than reality Bombastic plans of the Czech presidency did not materialize (Thessaloniki II in Hluboká nad Vltavou, no breakthrough on Croatia and Turkey, visa liberalisation only during II/2009) But: initiation of the “Friends of the Enlargement” group within the Council Visa policy: Czech Republic supports visa liberalisation, but in reality one of the main troublemakers The only visible success: Czechs got the EU enlargement/ENP commissioner

17 Eastern Partnership Czechs consider it to be “their baby” Not clear about how it should work in practice Rather unsuccessful in pushing it in the first phase: turned into the flagship during the EU presidency The issue of the role and desirable involvement of Russia still highly controversial Pragmatic approach: economic integration, good governance, democracy, energy – but where are the carrots? (not so much interested in visas) The long-term goal of EU accession on the table, but not spoken of openly

18 Democracy and transformation assistance Flagship of Czech foreign policy after 2004 Very well marketed, but in reality? Level of financial support relatively small Advantage: clear separation and different programming from the general development aid Focuses exclusively on civil society support Recently more pragmatic approach prevailing (trade off of Cuba for Eastern partnership)

19 Who are the Czech allies? Visegrad countries: high degree of alignment in foreign policy, natural forum for discussion Other new member states, like-minded countries Germany (on level of administration – politically not very spoken of) United States Otherwise no concept of strategic partnership building, very pragmatic approach, ad-hoc coalitions, explicable by reactivity of foreign policy after 2004

20 Conclusions The Czech foreign policy after 2004 has created a more positive image than reflects reality This is largely due to the EU Presidency and good marketing However, this is not underpinned by brought domestic consensus and truly strategic thinking among political actors MFA remains the main driver, but does not have sufficient political backing

21 Thank you! Any questions and comments welcome!

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