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Reasons for despair: Lisbon Missile Treaty

by Colman Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 04:22:30 AM EST

EurActiv reports that the Lisbon Treaty depends on the US missile shield:

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek yesterday (18 March) confirmed reports revealed by EurActiv in January: President Barack Obama's decision to put on hold US plans to construct its missile shield and radar base in the Czech Republic effectively blocks his country's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

As reported by EurActiv seven weeks ago (EurActiv 30/01/09), the Czech Senate said it would be unable to move on ratifying the Lisbon Treaty without the accompanying ratification of an agreement with the US to install a radar system, part of the anti-missile shield favoured by the previous American administration.

The stalemate in the Senate arose due to the position of members of Prime Minister Topolánek's ruling ODS party (Civic Democratic Party). On Tuesday (17 March), Topolánek was forced to withdraw legal texts committing his country to the US missile shield for fear that they would be defeated.

To which I can only say: what the fuck? Can someone explain to me how and why any Czech politician feels it is reasonable to make ratification of Lisbon (or not) conditional on a military treaty with the US (even if it wasn't a hare-brained super-villain scheme like the missile shield)?


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I look forward to explanations of how the Czechs should be thrown out of the EU for this.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 04:23:47 AM EST
I guess we have to wait for the ODS to be thrown out in the next Czech Senate elections (2012) and for Klaus's second term to be up (2013) in order for the Czech Republic to ratify Lisbon.

How long is Ireland going to take?


Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 04:53:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd guess it'll be ratified here (or not) in 2009.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 05:05:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, it may happen earlier... here I find the news in an entirely different context:

Opposition launches new attempt to topple the government - 18-03-2009 15:28 UTC - Radio Prague

The coalition government of Mirek Topolánek is losing ground in the Chamber of Deputies. A day after a media scandal involving the prime minister's advisor, the opposition went on the offensive on Tuesday, saying they want to remove the government in a vote of no-confidence. The coalition had to admit its weak position, and withdrew votes on allowing a US radar base from the agenda in the lower house, fearing they would not muster the necessary votes.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:52:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Radio Prague can't tell the lower house from the upper house?DoDo:
The coalition had to admit its weak position, and withdrew votes on allowing a US radar base from the agenda in the lowerupper house, fearing they would not muster the necessary votes.
The Lower House ratified the Lisbon Treaty only last month.

ČeskéNoviny.cz: Czech lower house passes Lisbon treaty

The Czech Chamber of Deputies passed the Lisbon treaty to reform the EU institutions today by the votes of 125 deputies out of 197 present. advertisement

The ratification process in the Czech Republic will be completed after the Senate approves the treaty and President Vaclav Klaus signs it.

A total of 120 votes were needed to pass the treaty in the 200-seat lower house.



Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:58:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the link downthread, apparently, the link-up is somehow between upper-house approval of Lisbon and lower-house approval of the radar base.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:00:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, okay.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:01:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See below what I made of it after I re-read it all.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:08:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for bringing this up Colman.

By the end of Germany's presidency term, when it became clear Poland wouldn't sign the treaty by pure pride, a group of 9 states formed to start a "break up block" that would ratify and apply the treaty unilaterally. I haven't found entirely which states composed this group, but a local TV reporter at the time said at least Holland, Spain and Portugal were in it.

The story goes that at the last minute Merkel talked the group of nine out of it, asking them to wait at least until the next term.

It is now clear that for states like Ireland, Cechia or Poland the Union is something that you only use to take and not to give. At some point they'll will simply  left behind.

To complicate matters Cecchia joins the €uro in a few months time...

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:17:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't forget France and the Netherlands, those self-interested bastards.

They too are going to get left behind, no?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:20:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Luis de Sousa:
By the end of Germany's presidency term, when it became clear Poland wouldn't sign the treaty by pure pride, a group of 9 states formed to start a "break up block" that would ratify and apply the treaty unilaterally. I haven't found entirely which states composed this group, but a local TV reporter at the time said at least Holland, Spain and Portugal were in it.
The Council should start thinking about moving forward with "enhanced cooperations" under the Treaty of Nice.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:21:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Might that be related to the following "Group of Nine" member states call for social EU Constitution
Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg and Italy are among the signatories of the declaration who think it is necessary to link the institutional re-launch to a revival of the "Social Europe".
(Source: EurActiv)

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:30:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do all ex-communist countries think EU=NATO?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 04:44:53 AM EST
Because Washington told them so?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 04:49:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As you seem to have found out, the issue is something eltirely different.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:50:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To boot: the missile shield is not even NATO, it is USA.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:51:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what's the difference between USA and NATO, again?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:25:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And, does this story not show that European political leaders put US interests ahead of EU interests?

Well, given Obama's lack of enthusiasm for the missile shield, it's not even US interests any more, is it?

I guess it's just putting "poking Russia in the eye" ahead of both US and EU interests.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:27:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The USA thinks NATO is the moat around it.

The countries in NATO don't understand that they're the moat, not the castle.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 08:17:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The difference between the hegemon and a vehicle of the hegemon?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 08:27:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Presumably, his decision to make one vote conditional to another suggests that there is a group of Senators willing to vote for Lison but against the Missiles. Who are they? And can they be convinced?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 04:55:10 AM EST
They must be ODS (Topolánek's party) Senators. They don't need to be convinced: the Government is the one putting forward these treaties for ratification, and Topolánek is the one that withdrew the Missile one for fear of defeat, and is now blackmailing his own senators. Who needs to be convinced is Topolánek.

Suppose you had a bunch of Senators from UMP who were willing to vote for Lisbon but against joining NATO's military command, and Sarkozy had made the Lisbon vote conditional on the NATO vote. Who would need to be convinced, and how?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 05:01:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no. He's making ratifying the treaty conditional on the US changing its mind about the missile shield deployments. It's Obama's decision to put it on hold that is the problem here.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 05:08:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In theory, at least.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 05:09:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Reasons for despair: Lisbon Missile Treaty
The stalemate in the Senate arose due to the position of members of Prime Minister Topolánek's ruling ODS party (Civic Democratic Party). On Tuesday (17 March), Topolánek was forced to withdraw legal texts committing his country to the US missile shield for fear that they would be defeated.
Is it?Reasons for despair: Lisbon Missile Treaty
The stalemate in the Senate arose due to the position of members of Prime Minister Topolánek's ruling ODS party (Civic Democratic Party). On Tuesday (17 March), Topolánek was forced to withdraw legal texts committing his country to the US missile shield for fear that they would be defeated.
What is likely is that number of ODS Senators decided they would not ratify the CZ commitment to the missile shield unless Obama solidified the US commitment first. Then Topolánek withdrew the text. So far so good.

And then Topolánek says that he won't put the Lisbon Treaty to a Senate vote until the Senate commits to the missile shield.

So the fault is all Topolánek's. He can't pressure Obama on the missile shield so he has to pressure his own ODS Senators to commit the CZ to the Shield, and he has no other weapon than to make Lisbon hostage.

The EU Council meetings chaired by Czech officials over the next 3 months are going to be fuuuunnn...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 05:14:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is even possible that some ODS senators still swear loyalty to Klaus, who reportedly doesn't favour the missiles.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:46:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Klaus doesn't favour Lisbon either...

It seems the ODS has a problem, in any case.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:53:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, he is trying to blackmail rebellious Senators.

Linking up the vote on an important law that is widely supportewd with another that is not is common practice. It happened to the Lisbon Treaty before, too: recall Slovakia: Lisbon Treaty vote and domestic turmoil.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:48:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The saddest part of this is that Topolánek currently holds the EU Council Presidency.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 05:02:20 AM EST
"All your base are belong to us."
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:50:00 AM EST
OK, I find this for context:

Opposition launches new attempt to topple the government - 18-03-2009 15:28 UTC - Radio Prague

Nearly half way through the Czech presidency of the European Union, the country's government is on the ropes. On Monday, Czech TV broadcast a recording of Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek's right-hand man trying to convince a reporter to drop a story which could be damaging to a former opposition MP who now supports the coalition. Now the opposition has struck back, saying they would try and topple the government in a vote of no-confidence next week. The Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek accused the government of resorting to mafia practices. Mirek Topolánek, photo: CTK "The methods of Prime Minister Topolánek and his associate Mr Dalík have exceeded all tolerable limits of democratic society. We have witnessed further mafia practices of Mr Topolánek's government and his collaborators. These have been an unacceptable intervention into the independence of the media and the independence of police investigation." The coalition came under pressure in Parliament on Tuesday, with two of their MPs sick and two ministers away. The opposition took advantage of the situation and managed to attach the radar treaties with the US to the agenda - with good prospects of voting them down. The cabinet, with their backs to the wall, were forced to pull the votes. But Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek told reporters this was not the end of the matter. "This does not mean we would end the ratification process, as we can return the material at any time. It means the approval of the treaties by the Senate is valid, and we will come back to this after negotiations with the US administration and after the NATO summit in Strasbourg and Kehl." The vote of no-confidence in the government is expected to take place on Tuesday. The opposition have failed to bring down the cabinet on four previous occasions, but if they succeed this time, the country will be left without a government in the middle of the six-month EU presidency, and some two weeks before an EU-US summit in Prague.

Heh. Methinks if they succeed in toppling ODS, this is worth it...

On the other hand, while the SocDems are pro-EU and pro-Lisbon-Treaty, a lot of their voters aren't, and their likely coalitioners the Communists are Eurosceptics.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:55:30 AM EST
...as a reminder, the vote in the lower house a month ago:

Lower house says Yes to Lisbon but battle looms in Senate - 18-02-2009 15:48 UTC - Radio Prague

Czech MPs bowed to the inevitable on Wednesday morning and said Yes - many of them reluctantly - to Lisbon. 125 of the 197 MPs present voted in favour, just five votes more than the minimum needed for a constitutional majority. 61 MPs voted against the treaty, over half of them from the conservative Civic Democrats hostile to any further European integration.

...however, and here it is getting ridiculous, I also find that back then, it was the pro-missile-radar-base senators who wanted to link up the two issues:

Lower house says Yes to Lisbon but battle looms in Senate - 18-02-2009 15:48 UTC - Radio Prague

So the Lisbon Treaty now goes to the Senate, although senators won't begin discussing it until April. The Civic Democrats' Senate caucus has already said it will not recommend its members vote in favour until the U.S. radar base has been ratified in the lower house, which remains an unlikely prospect.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 06:59:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thinking about it, I guess I got the full story now.

  • After the lower house vote last month, some Eurosceptic ODS Senators said they'll approve too only if the lower house votes on the US radar base.

  • The government would have a very narrow majority on the radar base, so it played on delaying it, while pushing on with the Lisbon Treaty.

  • However, the opposition saw that with some MPs missing in the lower house, the government is vulnerable, so they got the missile base issue on the agenda in the lower house.

  • The government knew that it would lose the vote on the missile base in the lower house, and as a result itz would also lose the vote of its own senators on Lisbon, so it pulled both from the agenda.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:07:47 AM EST
After this, I think the opposition's move is even more worth it: they also had a chance to stop the radar bases!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:09:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks! Makes sense.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:25:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, even if the Vote of No Confidence succeeds next week and the Missile Shield is voted down, a CSSD government won't be able to get Lisbon through the Upper House?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:15:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That needs more research. It may be that the current opposition in the Senate includes people whom the ČSSD could convince otherwise. (I'm thinking mainly the Communists, but mabe some ex-ODS and ex-ČSSD guys who'd have to make different political calculations then, too.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:36:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Czech Chamber unlikely to vote on Lisbon treaty in early February - ČeskéNoviny.cz
The CSSD, KDU-CSL and the Open Democracy senators' group are pushing for the ratification of the document. They have 42 votes in the 81-member upper house but at least 49 votes are necessary to ratify the treaty.

That means the ODS (35 senators) has a blocking minority. Assuming they can convince the 3 commies and 1 Green, the ČSSD needs 3 ODS members. That may be possible if they play as dirty for deflections as the ODS did after the stalemate elections... or if a pro-EU wing within the ODS breaks away or follows its own line.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 08:16:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ha! It gets interesting with this one-month-old article:

Czech opposition thinking of Lisbon referendum - press - ČeskéNoviny.cz

Paroubek hopes that he could thus win over some rebels from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS, senior coalition government member) and with them topple its shaky government through a no confidence vote, MfD writes.

Paroubek is thinking of holding the referendum along with early elections, perhaps in the autumn, MfD writes.

"If I see that there is no other way toward the approval and ratification of the treaty, we will embark on it," Paroubek has told the paper.

Paroubek said he believed that the general public would approve the treaty in a referendum, while its critics are of the view that it might give them a chance of rejecting it, MfD writes.

Juraj Raninec, an ODS rebel and a deputy, has said the proposal to vote on the treaty in a referendum was a "strong card."

MfD writes that Raninec as well as Jan Schwippel, another ODS rebellious deputy, have not ruled out voting against the government, but President Vaclav Klaus's position is decisive for them.

Klaus founded the ODS in 1991, but he left the party last December over disagreement with the current party leadership and it political line.

The view of Eurosceptical Klaus was conveyed by Martin Erva, from the press department of the Presidential Office: "The vote takes place in the parliament, such speculations are useless."



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 08:37:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way... CVVM runs a poll on the radar base...

"Souhlas" is approval.

Only among ODS voters is there a majority for (a clear one: 61% to 35%).

There are similar but inverted figures on the question of whether there should be a referendum to decide.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:31:02 AM EST
...and this one is on the Lisbon Treaty (made before the vote).

Should Parliament approve it?

(Green parts: strong/weak aproval, red/yellow: disapproval, grey: don't know)

As everywhere in the EU, mosat citizens feel uninformed on the issue, though the informed figures have been steadily rising over time. No party preferences in this one.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:56:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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