Schroeder, Chirac urge votersto approve EU constitution

26th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

26 April 2005, PARIS - French president Jacques Chirac and German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Tuesday that rejection of the EU constitutional treaty by French voters next month would lead to a weaker Europe.

26 April 2005

PARIS - French president Jacques Chirac and German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Tuesday that rejection of the EU constitutional treaty by French voters next month would lead to a weaker Europe.

A no vote in the 29 May nationwide referendum "would weaken Europe and weaken its member states", Schroeder said at a press conference the two leaders held in Paris following the fifth Franco-German joint cabinet meeting.

In case the French ratify the treaty, "Europe would find its unity again, as well as prosperity and lasting peace", Schroeder said.

A series of public opinion polls have shown that French voters will narrowly reject the proposed constitution, which would slow EU institutional reform since the treaty needs to be approved by all 25 EU members to go into effect.

For his part, Chirac emphasised that a yes vote in the referendum "is to choose a Europe that is more social, more independent, stronger".

He went on to say that a French repudiation of the EU constitution would not halt the ratification process and would leave France on the sidelines of European unification.

"If the 'no' wins, ratification would be continued in other countries ... to the end," Chirac said. "France would find itself on the platform as the train speeds by."

Earlier Tuesday, Chirac and Schroeder issued a joint statement urging ratification of the constitution.

"France and Germany reaffirm their conviction that the coming into effect of the constitutional treaty will ... affirm Europe's influence on the international stage and strengthen its ability to act in the service of peace and security in the world," the statement read.

Schroeder and Chirac were to speak at the Sorbonne later on Tuesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Franco-German Chamber of Commerce. Their addresses are expected to equate European industrial progress with support of the treaty.

In another statement issued during the joint cabinet meeting, the two leaders also demanded that the retreat of Syrian armed forces from Lebanese territory be verified "on the ground".

The two countries said they awaited "with interest" the report of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Syria's implementation of Security Council resolution 1559.

Annan's report is to be issued later on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, a symbolic group of 300 Syrian soldiers and their commanders were given a formal send-off from Lebanon, ending a nearly 30-year presence.

DPA

Subject: German news

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