"Welcome to the Community" - government launches EU Yes campaign


A Greek café owner - dubbed into Czech - explains to TV viewers how EU membership has helped his country since joining the European Union. The 30-second TV ad is one of three being aired as part of the Czech government's EU referendum campaign, which began in earnest on May 1st. At the same time billboards are going up across the country featuring a Portuguese fisherman, a Spanish bus driver and an Austrian taxi driver, accompanied by the phrase "Welcome to the Community." The ad campaign is certainly slick and professional, but will it work? We spoke to the person in charge of it, the Foreign Ministry's Jana Adamcova.

"When I started working here the first thing I thought I have to do is to switch the debate about EU accession from "money" to "values". Because I don't think it's right that the debate over EU accession should be concentrated only on how much money we'll get. So therefore this campaign shows the EU in a little different light."

Talk me through it - you have these billboards with the Portuguese fisherman and the Spanish bus driver and the TV spots with the Greek café owner and so on, all extolling the benefits of joining the European Union, how it's helped their countries, and also this phrase "Welcome to the Community". Do you think this really is going to appeal to the Czech mindset?

"Well, first of all this is the first phase, we will be a little more pushy in the second phase, two weeks before the referendum, where we will say please don't forget to go and vote. This is very important. This first phase is saying the EU is just a community of normal people like you. That their countries came through joining the EU, they also had their problems but they managed it. We want to tell people why shouldn't we manage it? Why should we end up worse off than Portuguese or Austrian people?"

Czechs are often described as being rather lukewarm towards the EU, less enthusiastic than Poles or Slovaks or Hungarians. Do you think that's fair, or is it just an invention of the media?

"We have to count on typical Czech behaviour. The Czechs always criticise everything, they are never happy with anything, you always do everything wrong. So what we wanted to do with this campaign was to tell the Czechs that we like them! We like ourselves. And I think they have to hear that. It's like with a little child. If you always tell him you're wrong, you'll never manage to do that and that's bad, then he or she will not manage to do it. I think we must function here as a kind of teacher who tells his or her children that they are good. And this is what we want to tell the whole Czech Republic - yes, we are good!"

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