Estonia to vote on EU treaty despite French outcome

22nd April 2005, Comments 0 comments

TALLINN, April 22 (AFP) - The European Union constitution will be debated and voted on by Estonia's parliament regardless of how the French vote on the treaty in a referendum next month, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said Friday.

TALLINN, April 22 (AFP) - The European Union constitution will be debated and voted on by Estonia's parliament regardless of how the French vote on the treaty in a referendum next month, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said Friday.

"The constitution will reach the Estonian parliament in May and we will continue with our procedures as planned," Paet told AFP.

"We hope the French result will be 'yes', as there is still one month to go for French politicians to explain the constitution to their voters," he said. Opinion polls indicate French voters will reject the EU constitution at the May 29 referendum.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who was visiting Tallinn Friday, said he hoped French voters would show the polls to be wrong.

"France is a very important country in the EU, and I hope the result will be positive," Solana told a press conference in Tallinn.

Asked how the EU would react if France were to vote "no" to the constitution, Solana said: "The 'no' result has not been discussed."

Speculation about a negative vote on the constitution in France was "purely hypothetical," he said, adding that the pre-referendum debate in France has been "about other things, not the constitution".

The constitution has been accepted by all 25 heads of state and government, but must be adopted in member countries - either by a referendum or a parliamentary vote - before it can come into force.

Estonia joined the EU last year.

France, one of the founders of the EU, will be only the second member state to hold a referendum on the constitution after Spain, which approved it on February 20 by a wide margin in a vote marked by low turnout.

A poll conducted in February in Estonia showed that more than one-third of Estonians - 36 percent - have never heard of the proposed EU constitution.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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