President Klaus holds key to Lisbon treaty ratification
The eyes of Europe are on Czech President Václav Klaus – a fierce Eurosceptic who now holds the key to the ratification of the Lisbon treaty. After the Irish “yes” to Lisbon on Friday, the Czech Republic and Poland are the only remaining EU countries not to have ratified the EU’s reform document. The Polish head of state is expected to sign it in a matter of days, but Mr Klaus has shown no intention of breathing life into the document he’s so vigorously opposed to. On Saturday, a group of Euro-sceptics marched to his seat at Prague Castle with a clear message – don’t give up the fight.
“We are here to tell him that we will support him if he remains firm and will wait for the elections in Great Britain in case the Tories win and a referendum is held. Our position is to support President Klaus to maintain the position he’s had so far.”
“I’m afraid the people of Britain should have been doing something much earlier, rather now, when it’s too late, just to wait for my decision. That’s my clear message to all of them”.
So it’s too late?
“Yes, too late.”
The majority of Czech politicians welcomed the result of the second Irish referendum. Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek told Czech TV on Sunday that the president should ratify the treaty.
“The treaty was ratified by both chambers of Parliament. Although I’m not a lawyer, the way I understand it is that since we don’t have a presidential system in the Czech Republic, the president’s signature is a mere formality. However, I understand that others might see it differently, and argue that the president does not have to sign the treaty. That would get us in a very difficult position.”
For his part, the head of the Social Democrats, Jiří Paroubek, hopes the Constitutional Court will rule quickly.
Until the court’s ruling, President Klaus’s hands are tied. The real war of nerves will begin if the judges find that the Lisbon treaty is in line with Czech law. But if President Klaus wants to keep the whole of EU waiting for his signature, he’ll need much more backing than he got at Prague Castle on Saturday.