Final Word from Friday, April 25, 2003

Jan Winkler, a former deputy foreign minister now with IBM Business Consulting, said that our recent pieces on Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda were unfair. Svoboda is one of the few Czech politicians on the way up, he said, and he's done it without making ethical compromises. He also criticized us for hiding behind reader comments. So what do we really think? To use a favorite Svoboda expression, our criticism of the minister isn't personal. We admire his enthusiasm for the EU, but we sense that he's having the opposite effect on voters of what he intends. For example, by criticizing Václav Klaus' legitimate concerns about EU accession, he gives the impression of wanting to force the EU on Czechs. After he appeared on Czech Radio yesterday, eight random listeners called in. Five of them made harsh comments about Svoboda. He risks becoming an impediment to a Yes vote in the EU referendum.


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