The Czech Republic takes over the six-month presidency of the European Union (EU) on Friday, “in difficult times” in Europe, while all eyes are on Ukraine.

This presidency, which the Czech Republic is taking over from France and is about to hand over to Sweden, “is not forecast in good weather, it is forecast in bad weather,” warns Pavel Havlicek of the Prague-based International Affairs Association.

The Czech government receives European commissioners in a castle on Friday for talks, followed by a concert in that country with 10.5 million people who joined the EU in 2004.

Prague wants to put Ukraine’s aid, the Ukrainian refugee crisis and Ukrainian reconstruction at the center of its EU presidency, as well as European energy security.

The Czech Republic, a staunch supporter of Russia’s EU sanctions, received nearly 400,000 Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war in February and is providing financial and military assistance to Ukraine.

“The war will not end at all before the Czech presidency”

Prime Minister Petr Fiala (right), a former political analyst and one of the authors of a book on the EU, recently said he would try to hold a summit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Balkan countries – whose candidacies for EU membership promoted by Prague and other Eastern European countries are at a standstill – would also take part in the summit.

But this summit – which will present a kind of “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine – will take place only after the end of the Ukrainian War.

The director of New York University in Prague, Jiri Pehe, considers this project unrealistic.

“The (Russian war in Ukraine) will not end at all before the Czech presidency,” he told AFP.

“The Czechs will only try to organize a summit on the situation in Ukraine” and “persuade others to help this country,” he said.

According to Jiri Pehe, the Czechs are not in a position to lead a debate on economic recovery or energy security either, as the Czech Republic, which is facing strong inflation, has not entered the eurozone and is dependent on nuclear energy, which is rejected by the Czech Republic. certain EU Member States, including Germany.

“The Czech Republic can hardly provide leadership” in these areas, criticizes Jiri Pehe.

The Czechs are traditionally – skeptics – and a survey conducted in March by the Stem agency shows that only 38% of them are satisfied with the EU.

Petr Fiala’s government is less Eurosceptic than its predecessors.

But some analysts are wondering about the ability of the Czech Republic to distance itself from Hungary and Poland, with which it has very close relations within the Visegrad Group (V4), of which Slovakia is also a part.

Hungary and Poland have lost their favor to Brussels because of their rule of law positions.

European Commission (EC) Vice-President Vera Jourova, a Czech, recently urged the Prague government to take a clear position on Hungary and Poland in this EU presidency.

“I don’t see how the Czech Republic could adopt a more critical point of view” towards Budapest and Prague, says Jiri Pehe.

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