Brussels - The Czech Republic's EU membership is a symbol of its return to Europe and it has brought the period of a great prosperity, which makes Czech Euroscepticism all the more incomprehensible for the rest of the EU, Czech-born French political scientist Jacques Rupnik has told CTK.
Ilustrační foto - Česká vlajka a vlajky EU na stožáru před budovou Evropské komise v Bruselu. ČTK Dospiva Jakub
"The period after 1989 passed under the sign of a return to Europe, which, in political terms, meant joining the EU. This was the most positive era for Central Europe in the 20th century history," Rupnik said, speaking on the tenth anniversary of the Czech Republic' joining the EU.
"Sometimes we forget that these were the years of a tremendous prosperity," he added.
Rupnik stressed that the integration into the European economy and drawing of EU money largely contributed to this.
Naturally, the EU integration also has some negative features, he added.
"You have to learn to negotiate with your neighbours, which was not usual. Either problems were settled by someone on your behalf or you put up a brawl with someone. This was a tradition in Central Europe," Rupnik said.
The Czech Republic behaved in a very strange way in the EU as it led a "resolutely Eurosceptic discourse of the British style and sometimes it went even one more step farther," which primarily relates to former president Vaclav Klaus, he added.
However, the Czech Republic does not have any alternative solution at its disposal, which Britain, a financial power, has, Rupnik said.
Rupnik said Britain could believe that in the globalised world it could prosper even outside the EU.
Due to new contexts, the EU activity is gaining more importance, he added.
"I think that all of us are aware of Europe undergoing a certain crisis. It has primarily affected southern European countries, but it is actually a European problem because even those whose economic and financial situation is better, are dealing with the common problem of the euro zone, for example," Rupnik said.
"Our domestic political scene has never been so much intertwined with European politics as now," he added.
Moreover, the Czech Republic is a Central European country, surrounded by countries that are in the EU and that have adopted the euro or are about to do so, Rupnik said.
"Saying in this situation that we will be in a sort of splendid isolation sounds very strange and I think the attitude is a big surprise for many Europeans," Rupnik said.
Rupnik said no one had expected the Czech Euroscepticism also because the post of the Czech president was held for a long time by Vaclav Havel who created a very pro-European image for the Czech Republic.
Rupnik himself was an aide to Havel in 1990-1992.
With the current government and President Milos Zeman, the tone of Czech policy has started changing, Rupnik said.
"I think that on account of this, the Czech Republic, too, will join the European mainstream in its relation to the European Union," he added.
The Czech Republic joined the EU along with other five Central European countries, the Baltic states, Cyprus and Malta on May 1, 2004.