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Austrians, Schwarzenberg and irresponsible Czechs

From time to time we debate in the newsroom whether we can praise Karel Schwarzenberg as foreign minister without appearing to have a conflict of interest. Maybe now, following the recent conflict with Austrian Defence Minister Darabos over the US radar on Czech soil, praise is appropriate.

  • Autor: Respekt
• Autor: Respekt

From time to time we debate in the newsroom whether we can praise Karel Schwarzenberg as foreign minister without appearing to have a conflict of interest. Maybe now, following the recent conflict with Austrian Defence Minister Darabos over the US radar on Czech soil, praise is appropriate.

Unlike Temelín or expelled Czech Germans, the radar isn't and can't ever be on the agenda of Czech-Austrian issues. If the Austrians have a problem with the radar, they need to take it to Brussels.

But they will have a significant handicap in any debate on this issue: their neutrality. Maybe, more than anything else, it's a psychological handicap. Neutrality in today's Europe seems like an ancient relic, and it places Austria in a position paradoxically similar to the one for which they so like to criticise the Czechs. It's the position of an irresponsibly individualistic country.

The whole thing is illogical: Neutrality stands always in opposition to some conflict, but today NATO isn't involved in any conflict (at least so long as Austria doesn't assume a neutral position in relation to the war in Afghanistan). And how would Austria maintain its neutrality in the event of a real conflict? Since Europe lacks a self-sufficient defence system, Austria would need to get in line and wait for help from the Americans.

All this should be touched upon when the „Czech“ radar is being…

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