Chirac back on TV to save EU treaty

3rd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 3 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac, buoyed by polls that show the 'yes' camp gaining ground ahead of the EU constitution referendum, was to make his second live television appearance Tuesday to defend the text.

PARIS, May 3 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac, buoyed by polls that show the 'yes' camp gaining ground ahead of the EU constitution referendum, was to make his second live television appearance Tuesday to defend the text.  

Following up on an April 14 live appearance with a group of 80 young adults - a high-stakes gamble widely perceived as unconvincing - Chirac was to face two journalists from state-owned France 2 for a half-hour interview.  

With less than a month to go before French voters cast their ballots on the landmark EU treaty on May 29, and his political legacy on the line, Chirac is stepping up his campaign, using all opportunities to defend the constitution.  

From last week's maiden flight of the new Airbus A380 jet to a meeting in Paris of artists and intellectuals that wrapped up Tuesday, the French leader has not missed a chance to extol the virtues of European integration.  

"You personify the Europe that we want - a united Europe, a Europe of progress, an ambitious Europe," Chirac  on Thursday told thousands of Airbus employees gathered on a runway beside the A380 prototype in Toulouse.  

"For the first time, the cultural aspect of European construction will be elevated to the rank of one of the Union's fundamental objectives," he told the cultural glitterati in Paris on Monday.  

The president's task on Tuesday - to explain how the constitution can benefit France - was made a bit easier by the release of a flurry of opinion polls indicating that the 'yes' camp could prevail on May 29.  

Two polls released Monday indicated that a majority of French voters will approve the European Union constitution in a May 29 referendum, with either 51 or 53 percent of the vote.  

The polls were the second and third to suggest that French voters could back the treaty, aimed at simplifying decision-making in the expanded EU, after a string of recent surveys had indicated a victory for the 'no' camp.  

Two others polls released Monday by the BVA and Louis Harris institutes suggested that treaty opponents would prevail with either 51 or 52 percent of the vote, but both showed that the 'no' camp had lost ground.  

All 25 EU member states must approve the constitutional treaty, either by popular referendum or parliamentary vote.   If such a heavyweight EU member as France rejects the constitution, many observers believe the treaty will be stopped in its tracks.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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