We are in!
The Czech Republic is pregnant. Pregnant with hopes, fears, optimism and scepticism. The night taking us from the 30 April to the 1st May, which usually belongs to witches, had, in the Czech Lands the appearance of early New Year’s Eve celebrations. Our entry into the EU saw jubilation, champagne and young people with blue flags and golden stars painted on their cheeks waving Czech flags. There were fireworks in Prague above the river Vltava, dozens of cultural events dedicated to the occasion and government officers wandering from one celebration to another and welcoming their guests from Europe and overseas. President Klaus was on the hill of Blaník (It is, however, futile to wait for the legendary knights to awaken. Is there no other hope?) whilst Prime Minister Špidla was on the Old Town Square attending a big concert of pop stars. There were speeches, public inquiries, newspapers full of questions, opinions and calculations. All asking the same thing, "What is, and isn’t, awaiting us, when WE ARE ENTERING EUROPE?" Or, to be more exact, the European Union.
Not long before entry, the government increased value added tax, causing widespread indignation; mainly in restaurants that as a result have to raise prices and fear the loss of guests. In the following days some pub owners even hung up black flags and named the politicians they saw as the "executioners of hospitality." There was a general apprehension of raising the prices of food. It was not felt too much in the following days because the shops possessed a stock of goods they bought at old prices and could retail to the customers at the normal price.
There was, however, no fear that EU entry would see the foreigners would buy up all our grounds and houses etc. That is because they have already bought up what there was to buy. The city of Marienbad is nowadays a strongly Russian territory and the houses in the centre of Prague belong to Germans, Italians and God knows to whom else.
But, on the other hand, straight after May 1st Moravian wine growers got into the spirit and bought up a number of wine cellars in Ausria, claiming it was just a third of the price it would have cost in our country. What other surprises and new possibilities are waiting for us?
Personally, with the entry into the EU, I am hoping for the following development. Although I do not have illusions about the difference of people’s characters in other countries and although I watch carefully the news about various scandals of politicians in neighbouring states, I think that the ‘Wild East’ that has been ruling here for 15 years, and that unfortunately has slowed down any positive development in our country, will now have to slow down. The desperate anti-European proclamations of our Euro sceptical politicians, those who have ‘ruled’ so that it was possible to pilfer, unpunished, billions of crowns, are afraid of having another tier of government above them (what they term the ‘destruction of national identity’). These exclamations help me believe they know very well they will not get away with such things in the future. What, dear readers, do you think about this?Eva Střížovská
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