Czech foreign policy: Farewell to Svejk Cover Image

Czech foreign policy: Farewell to Svejk
Czech foreign policy: Farewell to Svejk

Author(s): Robert Schuster
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences
Published by: Globális Tudás Alapítvány

Summary/Abstract: For many years Czech foreign policy was best characterized by the attitude represented by the protagonist of Jaroslav Hasek’s novel The Good Soldier Svejk: namely, that it is best to avoid conflicts altogether, but that if they do become unavoidable, then they are to be endured with good humour or with an effort to somehow survive the situation. In this respect, the decision by the centre-right government of Mirek Topolánek to approve construction of an American radar station on Czech territory can be seen as a paradigm shift. The government not only signalled a break with the Svejkian tradition, but also risked finding itself in opposition to the opinion of the majority of the population. At the same time, surprisingly, all the relevant players who have an influence over Czech foreign policy share an identical position in support of the construction of the radar station, This is all the more surprising because in previous cases of similar importance (NATO membership, the Kosovo intervention, the war in Iraq), politicians and parties took opposing views, mostly based on domestic policy considerations. Another sign of change is that by the end of April the parties in government managed to adopt a joint approach towards the European Union, which had been previously inconceivable. In spite of the encouraging signs, however, the author believes that Czech foreign policy will probably remain a prisoner of party political manoeuvres for some time to come.

  • Issue Year: 2007
  • Issue No: 02
  • Page Range: 47-56
  • Page Count: 10
  • Language: English