Prague - Shortly before the French handed over the EU Presidency to the Czechs, French President Sarkozy called it an "outrage" that some Czech public buildings have been refusing to fly the EU flag, which was widely understood as a reference to the Prague Castle, the seat of the eurosceptic Czech President.
But deputy for the EU Affairs Alexandr Vondra defended the absence of the EU flag over the Prague castle:
"The success of the EU presidency is not measured by the numbers of flags flying in the country."
The Greens' leader and deputy PM Martin Bursík did not take Sarkozy's remark so seriously. Allegedly, there are other options how to make sure the EU flag flies over the Prague Castle.
"We were jokingly talking about several options. One of them is that the EU flag could be hoisted when the President is abroad, since the presidential flag is flown when the President is present at the Castle. As soon as he leaves the Castle, the Czech flag could be replaced with the EU flag," Bursík said for Czech public service TV station.
Saving the reputation
Greenpeace activists tried to restore the Czechs' reputation with the EU's cheerleaders and projected the image of the EU flag and Czech and English slogans early Wednesday morning on the Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle itself.
The act was to remind Czech eurosceptical MPs of their responsibility for environmental protection and climate change during the country's EU Presidency.
Besides screening the EU flag on the historical landmarks of Prague, Greenpeace activists also projected a slogan "Copenhagen - 333 days. It is up to us," concerning the upcoming United Nations' Climate Change conference to be held in Denmark in November this year. This conference is expected to see a new deal signed which should replace the Kyoto protocol after it expires in 2012.
According to President Václav Klaus, it is not appropriate to hoist the EU flag over the Prague Castle, since the Castle is a symbol of the Czech nationhood, not of the European Union.