The dreadful errors made by the Czech Presidency of the European Union go on and on… They don’t know who’s who in the Kremlin, they think Israel is defensive, and now they’ve caused all kinds of fuss by hanging art in the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels that depicts national stereotypes about the EU Member States. Germany looks like it has a deconstructed swastika on it, and the Bulgarians are annoyed that their ‘symbol’ is a toilet. This is the Presidency PR about the installation, and this is how the BBC covers it and there are more photos here.

Anyway, as the Czech Presidency seems to have mede plenty of gaffes already, and we’re only 2 weeks into their 6 month stint in the chair, I thought I would make a small toolkit for EU bloggers – the Czech Presidency Gaffe-o-Meter, based on the idea of the Joe Biden Gaffe-o-Meter from the US elections. The idea is simple: when the Czech Presidency does something silly, you give the gaffe a score – 1 if it’s just stupid, 2 if it’s damaging, and 3 if it’s totally unacceptable. You can download all of the images (inc. Praise-o-Meter), including a layered Photoshop file, here (8mb). The image is adapted from Czech street art of Vaclav Klaus from Flickr, creative commons attribution license.

Anyway, the art exhibition gets a big 3 on the Gaffe-o-Meter!

gaffe-o-meter-3l

[UPDATE]
As a result of a comment from Ivava I’ve amended the Gaffe-o-Meter to also include a ‘Praise-o-Meter’ – a positive one to three score that can be used in the case that the Presidency does something good. Frankly I don’t expect to use the Praise-o-Meter graphics very much but we’ll see. Graphics, as before, are available for download.

praise-o-meter-1spraise-o-meter-2spraise-o-meter-3s

40 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Czechs are going to vote. And strengthen the populists further. | Alliance Europa

  2. AzBukiVedi

    Hi and thanks for the email address.

    I also enjoy other points of view. This is exactly the reason why I would rather have had 27 different forms of humor in the artwork intended for the start of the Czech Presidency than the single form of Schwejk humor we got instead. We are talking about diversity, aren’t we?

  3. AzBukiVedi, it is my observation that Bulgarians have a directness and honesty which is uncommon amongst people from these islands. It is my problem entirely that I allowed myself to forget this, it has been after all a few years since I had regular contact with your countrymen.

    Thank you for “sticking” with me, I probably do not deserve it. Stoicism is reputed to be an English trait, but I am afraid it has fallen into disuse here. Now we do too much screaming to be just like the Americans. The bear story is enlightening, for that alone you deserve my e-mail address, which is: pogsurf {at} gmail(.)com (it is also possible to see the same thing via link on my blog. I shall think about whether something I might change it in the future.)

    I once told a Bulgarian friend of mine that we in Britain are polite to the people we don’t like, you can only be rude or cheeky to the people who you know well. You may hit me very hard with an axe and the tell me exactly what you think of me. Just as some Bulgarians shake their head when they mean yes, and nod for no, there are things between our two cultures which are arbitrarily different and strike each other as odd. I think it will strike you as very odd then that if an Englishman is rude to you, it probably means he is paying you a compliment. In the story above an English bear would have said “and your arse is hanging out of your trousers”.

    We are fixated by poverty because we think we can solve it. Yet I have seen people in Bulgaria living very well in very humble circumstances. Our role models are fools and knaves like Blair and Cameron, is it any wonder that we behave foolishly and knavishly when we see them in action. I am afraid we have long forgotten nobility, we think it is just something which is found in history books about knights in armour. In short we have almost lost the desire to live well, and see only the surface of things.

    I re-emphasise that I want to engage with other points of view, and so all of your comments are most welcome, even if they do challenge me in some way.

  4. AzBukiVedi

    Ammm, I would have sent this to Martin in a personal message, but I see no way I can do it, so I hope I am forgiven for trying it here. I spent some time thinking about the issue and this strong insult that Bulgarians are taking and I thought of a Bulgarian folk tale called “The Bad Word”. Sharing it might help understand what I mean when I talk about displaying somebody else’s durty laundry in public and/or insulting his ways of life:

    The Bad Word

    A man went to the bear’s den. He was invited there for a meal and a drink. They were old friends. He liked the meal and everything was fine, but then he said: You know, your den stinks. The bear said nothing, but took the axe, handed it to the man and said, hit me on the head. The man was astound. How can I hit you, he said, you are my friend. The bear insisted. So finally the man did it and blood came out of the wound on the bear’s head.

    A few years later the man visited the bear again. He asked: How is the wound on your head? The bear showed him the wound and said: Look, the wound from the axe has healed, but the would from the bad word you told me back then has not healed yet.

    So, talking about good relations in Europe, intercultural communication and politeness…

  5. AzBukiVedi

    Hi Martin, if all you can see in my writings is a strange boast and upset feelings, then let it be. A person can see in a text only as much as his/her own level of consciousness allows. I do not see you addressing my criticism of your superficial and fragmentary view of Bulgaria, but I hope to have enriched your knowledge of it by providing a different point of view.

    I think the most basic problem of Europe with Bulgaria is that it challenges its European-ness, the way the “old” countries in the EU interpret Europe. A view which is (in fact) based on feelings of matrialistic superiority towards the rest of the world, even if it claims otherwise. If the attitudes towards Bulgaria and the strange fixations on poverty (btw. it was similar in reports on Poland before its entry into the EU, I don’t know where the reporters found these old, broken houses, black roads – they love them!, I don’t know about toilets), the conviction that “poor paupers” or people with “strange ways” do not belong to us… if this is all to be exposed by the “toilet” Bulgaria, let it be. It serves a noble purpose. It might actually push the Union into a direction that it direly needs in order to be anything more than a union of the rich and powerful.

  6. AzBukiVedi, you make a strange boast about languages, almost as though you are certain you know more than I do. This is fine by me, I’ll happily concede that most of the time I have no brains and when I do they don’t often work properly, but I wonder what makes you so certain. I think you have misunderstood my comments about Bulgaria, but I am fine about that too. I had no intention to upset you, I was simply interested in discussing the issues.

    Better go now, it’s late and there was other stuff I wanted to do. Bye for now. Or leka nosht.

  7. Ok Jon, no problem. I’ll be very cross if you are rude about my work though. I have absolutely zero design skills, I just know what I like when I see it.

  8. @Martin:

    That’s a dreadful draft of the new Praisy-o-metre. It looks like it has a spelling mistake on it. Are you sure you meant to release it like that?

    Look, this is a blog. I write it in my free time. Yes, I am capable of graphic design better than this, but I also have a day job to do. Plus if you reckon you can do better download the PSD file (link in the main post), edit it, and send me the improved one.

  9. AzBukiVedi

    Just a short addition to what I said: I have always been amazed, in talking politics, how much evil people are able to attribute to a small, dependent, relatively poor and not particularly influential European country like Bulgaria. Both in history and present. Suddenly, Bulgarians turn out guilty of all possible “crimes” – whereas most of them just try to figure out how to pay their bills for food and the very basics. Whe do they find the time to do all these bad things? Aren’t there bigger and more important problems to solve in Europe? For example, a good question of some German was, instead of exposing the “toilet” Bulgaria, wasn’t it more useful for the Czechs to invest 500 000 euros into something else?

    But that’s the reason why I find talking politics useless. Whoever wants to see toilets in my country, he will see toilets. Whoever wants to see more, will see more. It is your choice and your freedom, but your choice gives me personally useful information about you.

  10. AzBukiVedi

    “AzBukiVedi, the Bulgarian state has a woeful record of racism which it should address. ”

    Well, which state doesn’t? Bulgaria has also good records, where it “scores” better compared to other European countries – the saving of the Bulgarian Jews in WW2… I will not start looking at the dreadful records of other countries though – it would arouse many other useless comparisons that will bring us nowhere.

    In this sense, the story about the changing of the names is old. What have I got to do with the crazy Commies and what they did? So let’s keep it to the present. At present, the Turkish minority in Bulgaria has its own party which is part of the government (and that’s already more political tolerance than any other European coutry could demonstrate, compare with Germany). The attitude towards the Turks in Bulgaria is far less negative than that of Europeans in general. I even consider this standing for the Turks in the context of the “Turkish” toilet in Brussels hypocritical.

    For your information, I live in a Turkish quarter of Berlin – because I like it. When Turks find out I am Bulgarian, they smile and call me “komshu” (neighbor). Sometimes they like to give me a discount in their shops, just because I am a “komshu”. Yes, when you look at the Balkans from outside you might think you understand them. You don’t. You will see ethnic strife where we don’t and you will generalize on behavioral patterns we do not tend to generalize on. Once I was asked by a Turkish guy where I come from. I said: Bulgaria. The Turkish guy asked me: Are you a Turk? I said, no, Bulgarian. Then he expalined: Because Turks who come from your country call themselves Bulgarians. Well, I did not know that.

    Public spaces still look awful in Bulgaria. But as I have said, this is none of your business. Don’t go there if you don’t like it. Many Bulgarians will follow your advice. But they will (rightfully) not accept racist comments on how “clean” somebody is. Such comments actually remind me of the way Germans spoke of Poles or Czechs, or Jews in the past. What’s the difference?

    I think the xample with the mausoleum is very unsuitable for the point you are trying to make. There is nothing shameful about being a part of some crazy regime in the past. Or did Bulgaria have the choice to make the Russians leave after WW2? Extremely simplistic. I found this renaming stupid, but to some people who suffered from the regime, the naming of some streets was offensive. I would respect their feelings. The mausoleum – I could not care less about it, whether it is there or not. It is well documented, that it existed, so it is no erasure. But maybe people did not want to look at the enbalmed figure of Dimitrov. I can also understand these sentiments. And… it is our capital. We can demolish buildings there as we wish. They are our buildings.

    The meaning of Cerny`s work? He has stated what the meaning is in the Entropa brochure:
    “For me, our project is an opportunity
    to cope with false patriotism and fi nd
    relief from the destitution of Bulgarian
    material and spiritual life. Not least,
    it is sure to upset a lot of people, and
    that is also what I am aiming for – to
    cause a scandal, especially at home.
    It’s a punk gesture, intentionally primitive
    and vulgar, faecally pubertal.”

    I never liked vulgar art. Just personal taste. I also never liked art or artists that seem to profit from negative sentiments that their works arouse. I do not find anything inspiring about the sexual implications present in almost every work of Cerny (by the way I did not know about him before Entropa). Is it because I am dealing, as an archaeologist, with the aesthetic ideals of antiquity that this art does not quite appeal to my taste? It is the Czechs’ business if they like Cerny’s creation, but I just don’t want his toilets stuck into my nose. By the way, I found his depiction and comments on other countries also extremely tasteless, but none of them was filled with so much malicious joy as the one quoted above. Is this the culture Czechs want to present to others? Well, their business again, just wondering. Not much unlike the Bulgarian toilets.

    Learning languages? Hey, that was a good one. I speak five modern languages. As a scientist I have had to gain knowledge of many old Indo-European languages – Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Old Persian, Old Church Slavonic, Old Lithuanian, Old Prussian, Gothic etc., etc.. From the Semitic group I would add Hebrew. My theiss deals with ancient scripts in the Eastern Mediterranean (Egypt, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Krete, etc.). You found just the right person to “win” for the good cause of learning foreign languages or learning about cultures. In Bulgarian we say: To sell cucumbers to the cucumber-maker.

    Actually, once I wanted to learn Czech, but could not find a suitable course for it. Otherwise it will not be hard, since I speak two Slavic Languages. I think I still understand quite a lot.

  11. I think a comprehensive Presidency rating system is more than I can manage as an individual blogger…

    I think analysing the logos is about as far as I’ve managed to get:
    http://www.jonworth.eu/presidency-logos-a-retrospective/
    …and there too Czech Republic does not fare too well.

  12. That’s a dreadful draft of the new Praisy-o-metre. It looks like it has a spelling mistake on it. Are you sure you meant to release it like that?

    AzBukiVedi, the Bulgarian state has a woeful record of racism which it should address. Campaigns to get Turkish and Gypsy residents to Bulgarianise their names are fairly undisguised attempts to ethnically cleanse the country. I think an image like a Turkish toilet might be some attempt to recognise this, but I cannot say for sure.

    Bulgaria has got a wonderful culture to offer Europe. However, like quite a few visitors I was surprised to discover tin cans with used toilet paper next to lavatories, not realising at first that the waste outlet would get blocked easily if you put paper down the pan. The public spaces in Bulgaria do look awful, or they did, I haven’t been back for five or six years now. And yes the insides of peoples houses are immaculate.

    Something I did observe that Bulgaria has a habit of trying to erase its sometimes awkward history. Dining out in Sofia one evening with friends was once interrupted as the mausoleum to Georgi Dimitrov was demolished with dynamite. It’s as though Bulgaria feels it can hide some shameful aspects of its past by blowing up buildings.

    I am not saying a toilet is in anyway a “polite” image to represent Bulgaria by, but the artist specialises in stereotypes and he saw it that way. So it is for him to speak of the reason for his work, as it is for Bulgarians themselves to voice their opinions about anything as personal as taking offence. I would never try to judge someone else’s opinion unless I had heard it from them speaking personally. Attempts to outline the “offence” of others are always misguided, you should try instead to become an authentic voice for their opinion. This is why learning another language is such an important aim for schoolchildren, it always gives people a broader perspective of other peoples cultures.

    I once heard a story that one of Bulgaria’s most wanted men was hiding out in London, with the knowledge of someone within the embassy staff. My own experience of those staff was that from the ambassador to his chauffeur and the security men they were the most wonderful hosts to a fault. I regularly sipped rakia in the security office there, although I baulked at eating stuffed vine leaves, as they are not to my taste.

  13. Thanks Jon. I sincerely hope there will be some opportunities in the next 6 months to use your Praise-o-Meter.:-) I would be also very interested in how you rank previous presidencies and if this ranking develops in time (e.g. Sarkozy in Georgia – heroic trip to the spot, agreement etc. versus the actual reality a couple of weeks/months later). It might be fascinating to start such a thing as a special website and let the internet community express! I will also like to see what pictures you use for the other countries. In our case, you in fact copied the Entropa cliche. 😉

    Concerning that point: As someone said in the debate here, in Entropa the Czech Republic “only” has Vaclav Klaus and his quotes – what is it compared to Bulgaria? I can tell you – and from the street art it’s obvious – there are Czech people who don’t think we ended up any better than Bulgaria…! (That’s what i was trying to express by comparing those two excrement-related images, nothing else.) And they are quite many as I could see following the Czech discussions. I can imagine that some of them might also find it absurd to use Klaus’ picture for the Praise-o-Meter – next to stars and the “good idea” sign… I personally take it as good humor. 🙂

  14. AzBukiVedi

    Hi Jon, I am actually an archaeologist and no specialist in European politics. I fell upon your site while investigating the Cerny scandal. So, I guess, it is early for me to use a gaff-o-meter on a regular basis. It might be useful for other people though. Why not?

  15. AzBukiVedi

    About the “perfectly clean toilets” in Ivana’s comment. It is an unpleasant feature of Bulgarian mentality (and one reason why I am not living in Bulgaria) not to take care of public facilities – btw, same thing in Southern Italy. Whatever is private is kept clean, whatever is public is left to rot (and stink). What foreigners see in Bulgaria are the public facilities (and toilets) and therefore their impressions. I can’t stand those stinking toilets myself, but first of all it does not apply for every single place in Bulgaria (people differ) and most of all it is “our business”. My grandpa had a squat toilet in his vineyard. It is not a big “shock” to me to use it as long as it is kept clean. And who asks YOU to use it? What’s exactly your problem?

    A “Turkish” toilet? Well, that’s ridiculous. Just look at wikipedia under “squat toilet” to see how Turkish it is. But I see why many Europeans, unhappy about the Bulgarian acceptance into the EU, would like to make this association. It is very simplistic and superficial and deserves absolutely no further attention or analysis, just mention.

    That all being said, the highest intolerance consists in the intolerance towards somebody’s ways of running his own home or business. I can understand Europeans deriding Bulgaria because of the rotten political system and the corruption. I can understand any criticism about features of Bulgaria that actually disturb the life of others in the Union. But I cannot understand the malicious remarks on somebody’s ways of living. In other words, it is none of your business to look into our toilets.

    One of the good things about Europe, even if it can sometimes turn into its problem, is that we all have our cultures and ways of life from antiquity. They may differ a lot. You may not be able to understand why somebody lives in a different way, it may be inconceivable to you, but it is a matter of tolerance to let them have their ways, as long as they do not offend or disturb you. This is how I see Europe – the only way it can function. And if my country should be considered the “toilet” and should always be reminded that it does not belong there, then… nichts wie weg, as Germans say. I don’t need your union, just leave me in peace and let me have my life as it is. Undisturbed.

  16. Well there are no votes or something like that, the Gaffe-o-Meter was a rather subjective thing I dreamed up. But you’re welcome to comment on what the gaffe scores should be, can use the images on your own site, and if there’s enough interest in this I could make a dedicated site for this alone..?

  17. AzBukiVedi

    Jon, how can I use the gaff-o-meter? I mean, for so many years, I have seen a lot of gaffes and have had to deal with a lot of insulting attitudes towards certain countries (not just mine), but never have I seen a piece or “art” that so directly and impudently pronounces its author’s racist convictions – in a public setting. I would give it a 3.

  18. AzBukiVedi

    Martin,

    Here is another Bulgarian friend from Berlin who would disagree with your friend from Sofia (and I believe I know more Bulgarians than you to represent something like a general opinion). I completely agree with Jon – probably one of the few people on the net to formulate the problem straight. Such jokes and such art do not belong in this setting. I would be surprised if a Bulgarian representative in Brussels ever goes into the Justus Lipsius and passes under the “toilet” as though this were nothing. If I find out about it, I would personally complain to our representatives there.

    As for the freedom of art: Mutual respect is indispensable in diplomatic relations. This is not some art gallery somewhere. The meaning of this work is symbolic also in the political sense. In such a setting, a work of art, associating a country with a toilet is racist and no big honor for its author or the country he represents.

    It is completely irresponsible on the part of the artist to deceive everyone, even his own government, by not allowing other European artist to take part in the work. It is also intolerant and cowardly in that it does not allow others to express THEIR visions, which IS Europe for me – the exchange and not the overexposure of one’s own opinion.

    In any setting I would consider an artwork depicting a whole country as a toilet racist. If you do this with the map of Israel, it will be anti-Semitic. If you do this with regrad to, say, Black people, it will be racist. Why apply the double standards and expect from Bulgarians NOT to be offended? Even the thought about it is arrogant, or at least a sign of being callous or insensitive.

    So, even if Bulgarians are too busy with their internal problems, the scnadal at Brussels has not gone unnoticed and politically, I believe, it will have consequences.

    P.S. Compared to other countries, Cerny is quite nice in the depiction of the Czech Republic, which only confirms how biased, one-sided and poor the vision of the artist is.

  19. Yes, at this rate they will manage 45 more gaffes! 🙂

  20. Blimey, they are only two weeks in, give them half a chance.

  21. Martin … as indeed so should Presidencies clean up their shit when they have done inappropriate things. Pity this does not seem to have happened so far with this bunch.

    Plus, folks, I am intentionally poking fun at the Presidency here. Turds or no turds there is a serious point here: judged on the criterion of smoothly managing to get work done in Brussels over their 6 months this Presidency does not yet have a decent record.

  22. You make a great point Ivana, I wouldn’t use the original Gaff-0-Metre because I don’t like to litter my blog with turds. I think people who allow their dogs to go around shitting everywhere should be forced to clean it up. I’m quite fascist like that, but then everyone to their own.

  23. The turds are from the original street art where they imply that Klaus, well, talks shit… And I am inclined to agree.

    I’ve now made a ‘Praise-o-Meter’ as well (see above), and if I see something good from the Presidency then I’ll use those graphics too.

  24. Hey Jon!

    It’s extremely interesting to see your initiative and to read the comments here. Being Czech and working in EU-related research in Prague, the Czech Presidency is something I have been closely following. Although I disagree with some of your points (many arguments already mentioned by others above), I appreciate this ranking for the same reason as I like the content (!) of the “Entropa” project – it is a contribution to the discussion, it makes people think, find out more and formulate their opinion!

    Just one remark: Why „turds“? It reminds me of what you actually criticise here – the piece of Entropa representing Bulgaria. Slight difference, though – the toilets there are perfectly clean. 🙂

    But seriously, did you think about something similar that could be used for positive actions of the Czech Presidency? Or you expect you will never need the „+“ part of the scale? Hope not. 😉

  25. Welcome to the year of European Innovation and Creativity. I think one of the defining aspects of our European civilization is the respect of for the freedom of the individual, arts, science and religion. I actually don’t think that the Czech have erred on any issues you call a gaffe. I think the fist mistake came when they apologized for Cerny’s artwork. I think it was a brilliant idea, not extremely well executed (it is not such a great idea to use a toilet for Bulgaria) but actually it worked: it has shown the weakness of the Czech and the Bulgarian politicians.

  26. Giacomo D.

    I think the greatest stereotype of all is in the mind of the artist himself. Ms. Wallstrom defended the artwork citing a line by the artisti: “According to the artist, David Černý from the Czech Republic, the artwork was an experiment to see “whether Europe has the ability to laugh at itself””.
    The problem here is that there is no Europe there, there is just a collection of 27 stereotypes about 27 nations.
    In my opinion this is the problem from an artistic point of view: the artist was not able to get out of the stereotype that see Europe just as a collection of 27 nations, because it is so rooted in his mind that he didn’t even recognize it.
    In my opinion stereotyped or not in this artwork they are still collected nations, no Europe among them, so the point was missed.

  27. One of my Bulgarian friends reports that he did find it insulting and extremely inappropriate. He works for the EU in Sofia, so I have it on good authority that everyone in Bulgaria is talking this week about 1. the gas crisis 2. Gaza 3. the Turkish bog. I think they have got their priorities right at least.
    From France I learn they are not really all on strike. My English correspondent there thinks the Czech president is getting his come uppance.
    Does anyone know why the artist chose particular stereotypes? I wonder if there might be a theme behind the particular “jokes” he chose.

  28. I would give it a 2 on the Gaffe-o-Meter. It was damaging in that some of the pieces were quite insulting (I feel sorry for Bulgaria – if the goal was to poke fun at each country, then do that, but “Ha! You’re country is (perceived to be?) a toilet!” isn’t very creative or insightful for “art”. I admit my knowledge of Bulgaria is extremely limited, but is there even anything like the “Turkey’s Toilet” image of Bulgaria in its neighbours? Can the artist even claim to have much much thought into some of them?). [That said, I’d have no problem with an art piece poking fun at the EU countries – but surely for it to be art it would need to be a lot more clever and insightful than this.]

    Still, I think that there’s a lot worse that can happen – some countries were offended, but it’s not like a major policy blunder that will effect people or the EU system much.

  29. I think there has been a degree of superiority in French circles, including the blogosphere, after Sarkozy’s napoleonic stint at the helm of the Council. There was frenzy all right, but what where the lasting results? Probably most lasting a more intergovernmental union of one President and a few Prime Ministers, in shifting combinations. Not the most reassuring structure for storms to come.

    But I do take exception to the Czech government’s protracted obstruction against approving the Lisbon Treaty in their parliament. Every few weeks ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is held hostage to some new unrelated issue. These games diminish the credibility of the Czech Council Presdency and Czech democracy.

  30. It’s not just about offending other member states, take a good look at the Czech entry and you’ll see the joke is on Václav Klaus himself. I have friends in Bulgaria, I’ll get in touch to see what they think, and report back.

  31. If he had hung the installation somewhere other than the Justus Lipsius building then he may have got away with it. But sorry, a Presidency is about legislation and getting things done. Not offending other Member States. They failed to think of the consequences of this.

    As for the gaffe-o-meter: it’s not one Klaus, it’s 1, 2 or 3 turds (i.e. shit) being spoken by Klaus.

  32. Hey Jon,

    Have you actually visited the exhibition? I haven’t but from the photos I’ve seen it’s ok… sometimes even funny (Sweden wrapped up in an IKEA paper box, e.g.). If I were Bulgarian, I would probably be insulted myself, but isn’t this one of the things that art should do…?

    Concerning your gaffe-o-meter: What will be the measure…? Because ‘1 Klaus’ has for long been, among politicians and diplomats, the unit of arrogance…

  33. David Černý says: “Self-reflection, critical thinking and the capacity to perceive oneself as well as the outside world with a sense of irony are the hallmarks of European thinking.”

    I can’t fault him on that. I enjoyed taking a look at the art work. Thanks for drawing my attention to it.

  34. Upon his country taking on the EU Presidency Vaclav Klaus talked openly about the EU’s “democratic deficit”, denied climate change and blamed the financial crisis on “immodest, over-confident politicians playing with the market”; what a hero !

    Admitedly it was a bit niave of David Cerny to think that someone, somewhere within the offices of the EU might have a sense of humour, but he’s given normal people a good laugh and that’s good enough for me.

  35. Richard – if you took a moment to look at what I generally write here I am often ready to criticise the EU. But Klaus has no manners, he’s a gruesome bully. Some points he might raise might sometimes be valid, but the way he approaches things does no-one any favours.

    As for the defensive thing: I disagree.

  36. Richard

    Jon

    Why do you espect “worse” from Klaus? He is one of the few educated, sensible politicians willing to have an informed view amd express it, even when it doesn’t fit the media narrative. He is also one of the few elected politicians willing to challenge the anti-democratic EU.

  37. Richard

    Except that thinking that the Israeli actions are defensive is not a gaffe. At the worst it is only one point of view. Personally I think it is an obvious and correct point of view, and that the facts on the ground support it so strongly that any other point of view is perverse or ill-informed, but I accept others differ in their views. What is either arrogant or ignorant is to suggest that it is an error, rather than an honestly-held opinion.

    As for the art work, it seems it is far better than much of what is feted as great art nowadays, and genuinely does reflect the stereotypes it tries to lampoon (the German one seems especially apt, given the still-widespread views in the countries occupied between 1939 and 1945). Like the Princes Harry and Charles, it only offended the usual suspects, so ready to take offence, not those who actually understood its intent.

    So a non-story then.

  38. The job of a Presidency is to get things done in the Council. It’s *not* to annoy 1 member state by poking fun at it in an art exhibition. It damages their prospects of doing good work, and hence it’s unacceptable. I’m sure there will be worse to come from Klaus and co though.

  39. Why do you think the art exhibition deserves a 3?

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