Page last updated at 08:45 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 09:45 UK

Czech EU slogan hits a sour note

By Rob Cameron
BBC News, Prague

Launch of Czech TV campaign
The campaign about the forthcoming EU presidency is running on Czech TV

The Czech government has unveiled a new PR campaign to raise awareness of the country's forthcoming presidency of the European Union.

The campaign revolves around the sugar cube - a Czech invention - and includes a seemingly innocent slogan.

But the phrase is highly ambiguous in Czech, and has left critics wondering what the government is trying to say.

The government has defended the campaign which is now running on TV screens and billboards.

In it, a handful of Czech celebrities - including the Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech - sit around a table and do amusing things with sugar cubes.

Accompanying the images is a slogan that translates literally as "we'll make things sweeter for Europe".

It's a nice phrase, and it goes perfectly with the pictures.

But the problem is it also has another meaning.

Translators contacted by the BBC suggested the most accurate rendition would be "we'll give Europe a taste of its own medicine".

Humour and irony

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek admitted the phrase was ambiguous, but said it was clear from the images that it was meant in a positive way.

His deputy, the man who thought up the sugar cube idea, said the ad contained all the typical Czech characteristics of humour, irony and self-depreciation.

Not everyone is laughing however. The prime minister's party, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, is a bastion of euro-scepticism, and the opposition has already criticised the campaign.

It was, after all, the party's founder and current president Vaclav Klaus who warned that Czech sovereignty would dissolve in the EU like a cube of sugar in a cup of coffee.

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