Musician, architect appeal to President Klaus to raise EU flag over Prague Castle

Borek Sipek and Michael Kocab, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic has been a member of the European Union since May 2004, but the EU still has the potential to cause controversy. The EU flag flutters over the Foreign Ministry and the Government Office, but not over Prague Castle, seat of the Czech President - in this case euro-sceptic president Vaclav Klaus. Mr Klaus's refusal to fly the flag has angered two well-known Czech personalities - musician Michal Kocab, who composed the Castle fanfare, and Borek Sipek, architect to former president Vaclav Havel. On Wednesday the two made a public appeal outside the Castle - Rob Cameron spoke to Borek Sipek.

Borek Sipek and Michael Kocab,  photo: CTK
"We are here with Michal Kocab because we are people who like being Europeans, and we saw there is no European Union flag flying over the Castle. We've brought a flag with us, and we're here to ask Mr President to raise it on the Castle."

Is that a requirement, an obligation of EU member states?

"We aren't sure if it's an obligation, but everywhere in the European Union they flag the flag. Of course Mr President has his own opinion about that, but he's obliged to serve all the Czechs, not only his own opinion."

There's an EU flag flying over the headquarters of the government and the Foreign Ministry - isn't that enough?

"It's not enough because the Office of the President is the most important office in Prague, so I think the flag should be there, in the most important place."

So it has a very important symbolic value.

"Yes, absolutely. It's not only about symbolic value, it's also a kind of statement which we give to the European Union."

You were the architect of former president Vaclav Havel, a very pro-European and pro-EU president. Are you here on your own, or has he sent you here to do battle with Mr Klaus?

"No, no. We're here on our own. Of course he agrees with what we're doing, but he's not involved in this action."

So it's nothing to do with Mr Havel, it's your own idea.

"Yes, it's something thought up by Michael and me, and our friends. But we don't to make it too big, so we are here as representatives of lots of Czech people who would like to see the flag here at the Castle."

And if Mr Klaus refuses to fly the EU flag, what will you do then?

"We want to wait and see what his response will be. It's not only this action, what we did now. We want to continue. There will be some other steps."