Run for the hills! Starting next year, the EU’s (largely symbolic) presidency will be assumed by Czech leader Vaclav Klaus, replacing Nicolas Sarkozy. Today the NYT tells us that Klaus is a global warming disbeliever, thinks too much regulation caused the financial crisis, and believes that global coordinated action is just protectionism in disguise. This is going to be awesome.
We’re not exactly sure how much he influence he’ll really have to slow down (probably unstoppable) drive to create some a global financial order borne from panic, but at least he’ll have a pulpit:
Perhaps his greatest ire has been reserved for the European Union. In 2005, he called for it to be “scrapped.” Now, he is a vocal opponent of the Lisbon Treaty, which aims to help Europe become more of an international player, but which he argues will strip countries of sovereignty.
On a state visit to Ireland this month, Mr. Klaus incensed the government and annoyed many in his own country by publicly praising Declan Ganley, a businessman and political activist who was influential in persuading a majority of Irish voters in June to reject the treaty.
And while other European leaders have criticised a newly assertive Russia, Mr. Klaus has forged close ties with Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin and recently distanced himself from the Czech government’s criticism of Russia over the war with Georgia in August.
Those who know Mr. Klaus say his economic liberalism is an outgrowth of his upbringing. Born in 1941, he obtained an economics degree in 1963 and was deeply influenced by free market economists like Milton Friedman.
Mr. Klaus’s son and namesake, Vaclav, recalled in an interview that when he was 13, his father told him to read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to better understand Communism’s oppressiveness.
The funny thing is that the whole article’s tone is one of caution and warning, that there’s something to fear when this loose canon takes over. But other than the fact that he’s not a conventional, European liberal there’s not a single substantive criticism or complaint.
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