Czech President Vaclav Klaus challenged the US stance on the EU supporting closer European integration in his lecture at the University of Chicago on Wednesday. Klaus said that "the prevailing American way of looking at the EU is based on a misunderstanding of the true substance of the European integration," and that the US stance does not take the radical changes in Europe in recent years into consideration. "I am afraid that the Americans do not see the EU's accelerating drive towards a social-democratic, more social than democratic, European superstate. That they do not see the EU's protectionism, the EU's legal and regulatory burdens on business, the EU's irrational 'competition policy', the EU's pensions and health care crisis, and the costs of the European single currency," Klaus said in his lecture for students and teachers of the Faculty of Post-Graduate Studies in Economics at the University of Chicago. Klaus said that the Americans mistakenly suppose that the current major problem of Europe is the lack of peace and that united Europe is the best way to achieve peace. "To fight for peace - when war does not threaten - is, however, a wrong excuse for building institutions which tend to restrain freedom, democracy and democratic accountability, not to speak about economic efficiency," Klaus stressed, adding he does not share the opinion that the European unification would diminish anti-Americanism in Europe. In his lecture Klaus also focused on the transformation of the Czech society following the fall of communism in 1989, which, in his words was not brought from outside.
"It was made possible by our own domestic efforts, by our own decisive political activity, and by the existence of an elementary political support of millions of the Czechs who wanted to get rid of the past. This unusual unity in the whole country was extremely important," Klaus pointed out. On the other hand, he said that people were then united "against something" and not "in favour of something." "To my great regret, for the majority of people the alternative to communism was not capitalism 'Chicago-style'. The utopian 'third ways' were being sought and promoted," said Klaus. Klaus, Czech prime minister in 1993-97, described the fundamental steps of the radical economic reform that he headed at the beginning of the 1990s. He said that "there was nothing to wait for, because the euphoria that followed the collapse of communism would not provide people with an unlimited time for unpopular and often painful measures." Klaus also called the Czech Republic's EU entry in May 2004 "an inevitable move, without alternatives," which, however, brought Czechs less freedom, less democracy, less sovereignty, and more regulation and government intervention. Other speakers at the University of Chicago, conservative theoretician Gary Becker, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, and faculty dean Edward Snyder, expressed similar opinions as Klaus.