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October 12, 2009

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Czech leader demands guarantee on EU treaty

CZECH President Vaclav Klaus will demand a strong and binding guarantee that the European Union's Lisbon Treaty does not destabilize property rights before he signs the pact, his aide said yesterday.
Klaus is the last head of state in the 27-nation EU that stands in the way of ratification of the new treaty, aimed at streamlining decision-making and giving the bloc a greater role on the world scene.
The long-time critic of the treaty stunned EU partners as well as the Czech Cabinet last week by demanding that the Czechs negotiate a partial exemption from the pact, similar to those earlier negotiated by Britain and Poland.
Klaus's aide Ladislav Jakl said yesterday the president demanded a binding guarantee, and a political declaration by the EU, an easier way forward, will not be sufficient.
"The president will not be satisfied by any declaration, but only guarantees for every citizen," Jakl said in a live television debate.
"For him, this condition is fundamental, necessary, unbreachable."
The treaty would give the EU a long-term president and a beefed-up foreign representative, and take away national vetoes in some areas.
Klaus says it would create a European superstate that gives too much power to Brussels and big member states, and has so far refused to ratify it even though parliament has approved it.
Klaus's stance has further antagonized partners of the central European country which lost some clout when its government fell midway through the Czech term as EU president in March.


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