Final Word from Thursday, October 2, 2003

President Václav Klaus' decision yesterday not to attend the opening of the EU intergovernmental conference in Rome on Sat. is curious. He gave up his chance for 3-4 minutes of fame, something that was so important to him in the case of his "meetings" with George W. Bush and Richard Cheney. It's not clear what, if any, promises he got from Premier Vladimír Špidla in return for staying at home and not voicing his objections to the draft EU Constitution. What is clear, though, is that this represents another victory for Špidla. The premier has cast aside his three biggest political rivals in the past week - Interior Minister Stanislav Gross, spiritual leader of the "privatizers"; ODS Chair Mirek Topolánek, who desperately wants Špidla's job; and now Klaus. Špidla is turning into a ruthless politician who knows exactly which buttons to push to get what he wants. European Union


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