Don't forget! Government launches final phase of EU campaign

Referéndum sobre el ingreso de la República Checa en la Unión Europea - el 13 y 14 de juno de 2003

The sound of a clock ticking, a picture of a knot in an EU flag, and the words "Don't forget!" With these TV ads the government has launched the final stage of its campaign to get people to vote in the EU referendum in two weeks' time. A simple message, but right from the start the campaign has been heavily criticised by the opposition as superficial and naïve. So how does the government answer that criticism? My colleague Rob Cameron spoke to the person in charge of the campaign, the Foreign Ministry's Jana Adamcova.

Photo: CTK
"First of all many people don't differentiate between the different campaigns. Czech Television are running their own TV spots, TV Nova are running their own spots, we have several NGOs which are doing their own "YES" and "NO" campaigns, so it's very hard for people to differentiate between what the ministry is doing and what it isn't doing - we can't expect them to differentiate. So when someone says 'the campaign is bad' they have to speak very concretely, because I cannot answer such critics."

The last time I spoke to you we were just a few days away from the Slovak referendum. While the result of that referendum was an overwhelming "YES" for EU membership, only 52 percent of people bothered to vote. Are you concerned about the threat of a low turnout in the Czech referendum, even though - unlike Slovakia - there will be no minimum turnout needed for the vote to be valid?

"Of course I am very much concerned. Because it's not clear, and as you can see from last week's figures, the number of votes which are for and against can increase and decrease from day to day. It depends also on the political situation. But last week we had a meeting in Brussels with other EU communication strategy directors from all the candidate countries, and we were all discussing the lack of motivation among people. And we think they are first of all just tired that the negotiations have been going on for many years, and that they are not motivated by their opinion leaders - the political elites. I think this is a common situation throughout Europe."

The last time I spoke to you were also quietly optimistic of a fairly healthy turnout and a YES vote. Are you still as optimistic, has anything changed?

"Yes I'm still optimistic. I hope we will get about 60 percent turnout, and I hope we will have more than 70 percent saying "YES". But there are so many factors that I cannot influence. I can only say that here in the communication department we're doing our best and we're doing the maximum we can."

And for more information about the Czech Republic's official "Yes" campaign, see www.euroskop.cz