Civic Democrats reject 'Eurosceptic' tag: 'We're Eurorealists'

Take a look through the election manifesto of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, and you'll find the party's top priority is the Czech Republic's entry to the European Union. But Vaclav Klaus's party has often been described as Eurosceptic; the Civic Democrat website criticises the 'bureaucracy, federalism, socialism and protectionism' of Brussels. This week the Civic Democrats sought to clarify their stance towards the EU: announcing that they were 'Eurorealists' who want the Czech Republic to be ready for any eventuality, even failure to join the EU. Earlier today Rob Cameron asked Civic Democrat MP Jiri Payne for a more precise definition of 'Eurorealism'.

Radio Prague: But critics would say that really it's just Euroscepticism dressed up in fancy words.

JP: If anybody is asking questions, asking what are our interests, what we'd like to reach by EU membership, what we will do the day after joining the EU, what is our programme, our political perspective for the Czech Republic, it doesn't mean scepticism. And I have a lot of concerns, for example for our civil servants working in the governmental administration. Many of them are a product of the past regime, and of course they are very Eurooptimistic because they'd like to improve their benefits by joining the EU. But it's not the same for our citizens. On the other hand not having qualified civil servants representing the Czech Republic in the EU, we will not be capable of [keeping up with the pace of] European discussions and solving problems. I think there is one more aspect. There is a younger generation, people who are finishing university, and in five years they will be ready to replace these old civil servants and they speak four of five languages in comparison with these old civil servants, who speak, very badly, English and German. Wouldn't it be very practical for the Czech Republic to wait for an additional four or five years and to have very qualified representation in Brussels?

RP: Are you suggesting then that the state administration, the government, the civil service are more in favour of rapid membership of the European Union than the people of the Czech Republic?

JP: That's sure.

RP: For their own interests?

JP:"Yes surely, because their salaries representing the Czech Republic in Brussels will be comparable with the salary of the President.