Czech-French ties 'a lot to handle,' says Topolanek

13th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said French-Czech relations were "quite alot to handle" but that he feel not bitterness towards Sarkozy.

Prague – Former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said Czech-French relations were "quite a lot to handle" in a book on the Czech European Union presidency that was published on Tuesday.

Topolanek, whose cabinet was toppled midway through the EU presidency in March, launched the book called "100 Days at Europe's Helm" less than a week after being replaced as prime minister by non-partisan Jan Fischer on 8 May.

He told reporters on Tuesday that his relationship with Sarkozy was "dominant in the book," but that he felt no bitterness over what he described as a "natural clash."

"An old and a new (EU member) country, a big and a small country, a southern-wing country with remarkable pressure for regulation, subsidies and protectionism against a liberal open country... France against the Czech Republic. Quite a lot to handle there," he wrote in the book.

Arguments between Topolanek and French President Nicolas Sarkozy over handling the Middle East situation or over protectionist steps to cushion the impact of the global crisis became a hallmark of the Czech presidency.

"Our mutual relationship affected the whole presidency, or at least the part that I could influence," Topolanek wrote in a note on one of the photographs, which was his only contribution to the text, as he said.

The book written by Topolanek's spokesman Jiri Frantisek Potuznik offers a week-by-week history of the six-month presidency which the Czech Republic took over from France on 1 January.

In the book, Topolanek also went on to praise his good relations with European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, with whom "we acted on many EU issues almost like twins," and with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He also offered a description of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, with whom he led lengthy talks during the gas crisis at the beginning of the year when Russia halted gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine.

"Despite the angelic face of a brave schoolgirl, I would probably label the Ukrainian Prime Minister's portrait only as Yulia the Hard, Made of Steel," Topolanek wrote in another note.

AFP / Expatica

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