Minister Roche expresses disappointment at Czech President’s comments
Minister for European Affairs, Dick Roche T.D., commented on last night’s statements by visiting Czech President Vaclav Klaus at the conclusion of his meeting with Spanish European Affairs Minister Diego Lopez Garrido.
“I have had fruitful and productive discussions with Minister Lopez Garrido on a range of current issues, in particular the Lisbon Treaty. Consultations between like minded Member States are a valuable way of ensuring the smooth functioning of the European Union and ensuring understanding of national positions and sensitivities.
This stands in contrast to the meeting organised during the visit of the President of the Czech Republic by the Libertas Group last night. The Libertas meeting was attended by the presence of committed opponents of the European Union such as Philippe de Villiers and Jens Peter Bonde, who are well outside the European political mainstream. This is not where Ireland’s interests lie. We need to work with Member State governments like Spain in a positive and productive manner in finding solutions to shared problems.
A visiting Head of State is perfectly entitled to pursue private interests during their free time in the course of a State Visit to Ireland. We made no objection to President Klaus having private engagements during his visit. However, his public comments on an issue of ongoing domestic political debate are unusual and disappointing during a State visit.
His description of Declan Ganley as a dissident and the comparison with pre-1989 Czechoslovakia are clearly misguided, especially in regard to a State which has an unbroken tradition of democratic political life and free debate since independence.
Ireland enjoys excellent relations with the Czech Republic and cooperates closely with the Government of that country on the full range of European issues. We look forward to continuing that cooperation during the coming Czech Presidency of the European Union, when the Czech Government will be the international voice of Europe. I would not expect President Klaus’s particular personal views to affect either the very good relations between our two countries or the efficient conduct of the Czech Presidency.”