Just two hours after the Czech upper house of parliament passed the European Union’s Lisbon treaty on Wednesday by a comfortable margin, I found myself in the Prague offices of Mirek Topolanek, the outgoing Czech prime minister. Tired but in good humour, he clearly wanted to hammer home the message that his turbulent four months running the Czech Republic’s EU presidency had been more successful than his critics allowed.
Like his country, which is a medium-sized EU member-state, Topolanek is a figure of medium-sized Shakespearean dimensions – a Coriolanus, not a Hamlet. He has done the noble thing by helping to get Lisbon passed. But he will be out of power on Friday, and he doesn’t want or expect praise from the plebeians elsewhere in the EU. Read more