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Poland won't sign Lisbon Treaty unless Ireland does so

Latest update : 2008-07-03

President Lech Kaczynski has said Poland will only ratify the Lisbon Treaty if the Irish approve it in a new referendum. According to Polish law, the Treaty needs the presidential seal of approval to be ratified.

View our special report on The French presidency of the European Union.

 

Poland's President Lech Kaczynski will only sign the European Union's Lisbon Treaty if Ireland approves it in a new referendum, he told AFP in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
   
"If Ireland makes another decision -- but not under pressure, and without changing its constitution -- in the same way as the first, then Poland will not place a block on the treaty," Kaczynski said.
   
"And I myself will not place a block, because the Polish parliament has already approved the treaty."
   
The conservative Kaczynski, who is considered a eurosceptic, had said on Tuesday that ratifying the treaty now would be "pointless" after voters in Ireland, which was the only EU member state to hold a referendum on the treaty, rejected it on June 12.
   
Warsaw's lawmakers voted in April to ratify the charter, aimed at streamlining EU decision-making in a bloc which has expanded from 15 to 27 members since 2004, mainly with the influx of former east and central European communist countries such as Poland.
   
But under the Polish constitution the presidential seal of approval is still needed.
   
Kaczynski's announcement was a blow for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has set himself the task of finding a way to overcome the Irish rejection during France's six-month EU presidency, which began Tuesday.
   
EU leaders agreed on the Lisbon Treaty in December 2007, but it must be ratified by all 27 member countries to come into force.
   
Sarkozy on Tuesday took Kaczynski to task, saying he must follow through on his approval in December.
   
"We have signed on behalf of our countries to ensure that Europe moves ahead and we must live with the consequences of the signature," he said.
   
"I cannot imagine that the president who has signed his name at the bottom of the document in Brussels first, and Lisbon later, can cast doubt on his own signature," Sarkozy told reporters.
   
"It's an issue of honesty," he added.
   
France's strategy is to ensure that 26 EU members ratify the treaty -- seven more are still to do so -- in order to turn up the heat on the Irish.
   
But Kaczynski said that was deeply mistaken.
   
"Pressure sometimes has the opposite effect from what's expected," he warned.
   
"My motivation is not to breach the principle of unanimity. If a country finds itself under pressure, this principle will no longer exist.
   
"If the principle of unanimity is taken seriously, then at this moment -- and I want to underline, at this precise moment -- ratification is pointless because it won't result in the treaty coming into force. And my signature wouldn't result in the treaty coming into force.
   
"I had no intention of putting the brakes on the ratification process. That's the result of the Irish referendum. Ireland is an independent country, a small but independent country, and its people have the perfect right to take the decision they took. And they also have the right to change it," he said.
   
Kaczynski, who has regularly clashed with other EU leaders in the past, said he was unfazed by the prospect of pressure to climb down.
   
"Even if I hit the other EU member states head on, you need to answer this question: What should the EU look like in the future? A union dominated by the big, where the small are just make-weights, or a democratic union of 27 or more countries?"
   
Analysts have said that Kaczynski's stance is largely tied to a domestic battle with liberal, europhile Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
   
Kaczynski's conservative camp has been trying to force Tusk to agree to a law saying that Poland's EU-related decisions must be made jointly by the government, parliament and president, rather than just the government as is the custom.
   
Questioned on that, Kaczynski replied: "I could sign the treaty when we have the appropriate legislation. Such legislation would have been a domestic condition for ratifying the treaty, even if the Irish referendum had had a different result."
   

Date created : 2008-07-03

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