President Klaus urges Czechs to vote against the EU Constitution

President Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTK

"If the European Constitution fails to get approved, nothing earth shattering will happen. In fact we will have a flourishing European Union. The fewer such documents the better!" - words with which President Vaclav Klaus launched his latest literary work: a "guide" to the European Constitution.

President Vaclav Klaus,  photo: CTK
The slim booklet, which has appeared on bookshelves around the country, is titled "Say yes or no to the European Constitution". The words SAY NO TO THE EU CONSTITUTION are highlighted, leaving no one in any doubt regarding the President's advice.

Vaclav Klaus, is one of the harshest critics of the EU Constitution, the document intended to smooth the running of an expanded EU. He said at the book launch that the "guide book" was his way of initiating public dialogue on the issue and warning readers about the pitfalls involved. Predicting criticism from the media, he insisted that this was not a case of scaremongering.

"There are those who like to stick labels on us, such as "Euro-optimist", "Euro-pessimist", or "Euro-sceptic". I ask you not to do this. We who are concerned about what is happening in Europe today refuse to accept the labels Euro-pessimist or Euro-sceptic. It is precisely because we are optimists that we are striving to make sure that the European continent has the best possible future, that we Europeans have the best possible future."

The President's guidebook has aroused anger in government circles, especially since the ailing government, which is strongly pro-European integration, has not yet launched its own information campaign on the EU Constitution. 200 million crowns have been earmarked for the project but in view of the current government crisis it is not clear when - or even whether - the campaign will happen.

Up to now all three parties in the government have supported the idea of a national referendum on the EU Constitution, but Jan Kohout, the man who is widely expected to become the country's next PM, has unexpectedly hinted that if time runs short, it might be more expedient for the EU Constitution simply to be ratified by Parliament.

The only drawback to this "emergency scenario" is that, according to a recent survey, the majority of Czechs would prefer to have their own say on this crucial matter regarding their future. According to the same survey, most Czechs know next to nothing about the EU Constitution. What President Klaus can smile about is that the only source of information currently on market is his own guidebook.