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Czechs and balances

Mark Mardell | 13:35 UK time, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

STRASBOURG 1330

President Sarkozy has called it an "outrage" and a "wound" that the president of the Czech Republic doesn't want EU flags flying from public buildings. The order caused a spat when a delegation from the European Parliament came visiting Prague Castle. French President Nicolas Sarkozy

The trip was apparently a rather torrid affair, with the Greens MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit, that old student radical from 1968, verbally attacking President Vaclav Klaus. They were hardly likely to be big buddies: Mr Klaus is seen not only as an outspoken opponent of the EU and the Lisbon Treaty, but he also dismisses mainstream beliefs about climate change, calling the legislation that the EU is so proud of "a silly luxury".

Mr Sarkozy was responding in the European Parliament to the UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who said that the delegation should have shown respect to a head of state rather than behave like thugs and bullies. Mr Sarkozy suggested respect should be shown by Mr Klaus as well.Green MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit

This didn't protect the French president from the wrath of Mr Cohn-Bendit, who has apparently decided to make attacking heads of state his new trademark. Pointing his finger, he said America's president-elect would say "No, you can't", because the climate change legislation didn't go far enough.

Mr Sarkozy, rather mildly for him, responded in effect that the Green MEP always seemed such a nice man when they had agreeable lunches together, but turned into a different fellow altogether when the TV cameras were switched on.

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