Czech president urges France to vote 'non' to EU treaty

20th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PRAGUE, May 19 (AFP) - Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Thursday he hoped France would vote against the European constitution later this month.

PRAGUE, May 19 (AFP) - Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Thursday he hoped France would vote against the European constitution later this month.  

"I am not sure what the outcome of the French referendum will be but I sincerely hope France votes against the constitution," Klaus, a eurosceptic and vocal critic of the constitution, told AFP.  

Asked why he believed all the countries that had voted on the constitution so far had ratified it, Klaus said he attributed it to a lack of public debate.  

"To my great regret they have not been listening to the arguments against it. The constitution has been ratified by European bureaucrats and intellectuals who are exactly the group who will benefit from it," he said on the sidelines of a seminar on the European constitution in Prague.  

Klaus said he had resisted any temptation to campaign against the constitution in France and hit out at Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek for campaigning for the constitution during a visit to Paris Thursday, which he said was "not his role".  

Earlier, the seminar's main speaker, Anthony Coughlan, secretary of the Irish-based National Platform EU Research and Information Centre and a senior lecturer emeritus in social policy at Trinity College in Dublin, said the only way the constitution could fail to come into force would be if France voted against it on May 29.  

"If a smaller country votes against the constitution it will be forced by the EU to vote again. But it will be a different matter if a large country rejects it. If France rejects the constitution it will essentially be the end of the constitution," Coughlan said.  

But he said the "yes" camp in France would be boosted by the expected ratification of Germany's upper house of parliament just two days before the French vote.  

"Personally I'm pessimistic that it will be rejected in France but I hope I'm wrong," he said.  

Coughlan, who has published a book against the constitution which was recently translated into Czech with a foreword by Klaus, said he believed the constitution would create significant divisions within the bloc.  

"Tensions and divisions will grow as people do not like having their laws made at a higher level. This will bring a rise in xenophobia and nationalism and will generate hatred among people," he said.  

Coughlan also said that in an EU which adopted the treaty the military neutrality of members states such as Austria, Ireland and Sweden was "logically and rationally an unrealistic position".  

Each country needed its own exchange rates and leeway to adapt to its own circumstances, he argued and predicted the euro would never be adopted in all member states.  

"It is nonsense to try to impose a political and ideological straitjacket on 25, and soon 27, countries," he said.


Subject: French News

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