Vaclav Klaus says it is 'too late' to stop Lisbon Treaty
Telegraph UK (Link) - Colin Freeman (October 17, 2009)
The Lisbon Treaty has taken another step towards becoming law across Europe after the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, effectively abandoned his attempts to stall it.
Mr Klaus, the sole remaining leader in the European Union not to have signed the document, conceded that despite his personal opposition to the treaty, it was now too late to stop it.
He also dismisssed speculation that he would try to hold off formally signing the document after the forthcoming British general election next year. Such a move would pave the way for a future Conservative government to hold a referendum on the treaty, which could derail the entire plan if it delivered a "No" vote. But Mr Klaus said: "I will not and cannot wait for the British election. They would have to hold it in the coming days or weeks."
In an interview with Czech newspaper Lidove Noviny, he added: "I do not consider the Lisbon Treaty to be a good thing for Europe, for the freedom of Europe, or for the Czech Republic.
"However, the train has already travelled so fast and so far that I guess it will not be possible to stop it or turn it around, however much we would wish to."
Mr Klaus, an admirer of Margaret Thatcher, had won plaudits from fellow Eurosceptics for his staunch criticisms of the treaty, which he fears will usher in a European federal state that will curb the sovereign rights of smaller countries like the Czech Republic.
In past speeches, he has drawn comparisons between post-Lisbon Europe and the grim life of Czechs during Soviet rule, likening distant diktats from Brussels to those from Communist apparatchiks in Moscow.
While the Czech parliament has approved the treaty, he has so far refused to give the presidential signature necessary under Czech law to secure its formal ratification.
He is also waiting for a ruling by the Czech constitutional court on a challenge to the treaty filed by a group of Eurosceptic Czech senators expected on Oct 27. However, that challenge - viewed widely as a delaying tactic - is widely expected to be thrown out, leaving Mr Klaus with no further excuse to delay signing.
Earlier this month, he also demanded an opt-out clause to shield the Czech Republic from property claims from ethnic Germans expelled from the country after World War Two.
His last-minute request went down well with voters in the Czech Republic, where anxiety over the post-war expulsion of the 3 million Sudeten Germans still surfaces. A poll showed this week that 65 percent of Czechs backed Mr Klaus because they feared laws expelling Germans could be circumvented.