Of all our European friends, it's Austria that gives us the most trouble. This may be due to the fact that the Czechs and Austrians view each other as mirror images. Karel Schwarzenberg, a statesman of Czech origin who has lived most of his life in Austria, repeats this cliché whenever a suitable opportunity arises. But haven’t you noticed that relations between the two countries have improved in recent years? Not really – that’s not the sort of story that makes the headlines. It only comes to the fore on such emotionally-charged occasions as the presentation of an Austrian award to Czech president Václav Klaus or the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

Austrian president Heinz Fischer is heading for Prague to be decorated with the Order of the White Lion. So it goes without saying that president Klaus has to receive the highest Austrian honour too! And if you fail to fathom why the Czech and Austrian heads of state shouldn’t be swapping accolades, a brief return to the events of ten years ago will help you understand.

This was when the Czech Republic completed construction on a nuclear power plant in Temelín, paying no heed to Austrian objections. Parliamentary elections in Austria then catapulted Jörg Haider’s populist party into government. When E.U. member states announced they were going to impose diplomatic sanctions on Vienna, Prague – though under no obligation to do so – zealously followed suit. Haider then immediately called for a referendum aimed at tying the Czech Republic’s E.U. accession to its shutting-down Temelín, for which Miloš Zeman, Czech prime minister at the time, called the Austrians "imbeciles".

Even those who scoff at the word “progress” have to admit that all that has been long consigned to the past. Then how is it that the Austrian media is up in arms about the honours to be conferred on Václav Klaus? Because, writes Der Standard, Klaus has been doing everything in his power to block ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. For the first time ever, the non-ratification of a European treaty by a member state – and one of dubious practices at that – would have consequences for the entire European Union, the newspaper declares, which overlooks the fact that the Polish and German signatures are also still outstanding. Democratic decisions, which are the expression of majority opinion, should be respected, writes the Salzburger Nachrichten. But then one should – and this the paper doesn’t say – respect the Irish majority’s genuine “no” vote.

The Lisbon Treaty can be considered a weapon used to exacerbate divisions. There’s no denying that Klaus has more foes than followers, but to accuse him of high treason should remain our own affair. The European project could be better served than by these claims in the media that the honour accorded to Klaus could be construed in Brussels as evidence of Austrian complicity in a plot to block the treaty.