Polish president refuses to ratify Lisbon Treaty


Polish president Lech Kaczynski has said he will not sign the EU's Lisbon Treaty, saying it was pointless after Irish voters rejected it in a referendum last month.

"For the moment, the question of the treaty is pointless," Mr Kaczynski was quoted as saying in the online version of the daily Dziennik.

Mr Kaczynski, who along with his twin brother, the former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, negotiated the accord on behalf of Poland, initially demanded changes to a ratification law including an preamble stressing precedence of the Polish constitution over the EU treaty and a clause to defend the country against measures such as the “imposition of homosexual marriages.”

Polish president Lech Kaczynski
Polish president Lech Kaczynski

In April, both houses of the Polish parliament approved the treaty after the president agreed that a separate resolution to accompany the law would be sufficient. The treaty needs the signature of the president to become definitive.

"It is difficult to say how all this will end. But on the other hand, to say that without the treaty there won't be a Union is not serious," said Mr Kaczynski. He noted the same argument was made by proponents of the EU constitution after French and Dutch voters rejected it in 2005.

"The Union nevertheless functioned, it is functioning and will continue to function," he said. "Certainly it isn't ideal, but a structure this complicated couldn't be ideal."

Mr Kaczynski warned EU leaders against trying to isolate or pressure Ireland. "If one breaks the rule of unanimity one time, it will never exist again. We're not strong enough for this type of solution," he said.

Despite the president’s comments, Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said this afternoon that ratifying the Lisbon Treaty remains in Poland's interest.

"We are convinced the treaty's ratification is in Poland's best interest... It is hard to accept a situation where Poland would be put in the same position as Ireland, a very troublesome position," Mr Tusk told a news conference.

He also urged President Kaczynski to rethink his stance on theTreaty as its regulations were in the interest of Poland and Europe.

“Poland should give an unequivocal signal that it will sign the treaty, while today's statement of the president could be mistakenly taken by other countries to show that Poland plans to place itself alongside Ireland,'' Mr Tusk said.

“Poland should ratify the treaty as soon as possible.” added Mr Tusk who ousted the President’s twin Jaroslaw Kaczynski in elections last year.

Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum held on June 12th, putting EU reform plans in jeopardy as it needs to be ratified by all 27 EU member states to enter into force.

Mr Kaczynksi's refusal to ratify the treaty is a serious blow to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has set himself the task with finding a way of overcoming the Irish rejection of the treaty as France takes over the six-month rotating EU presidency today.

The French EU presidency's "first priority is to find a way to contain the problem to the Irish," Mr Sarkozy said in television interview last night, adding that EU countries must continue ratifying the key charter. He set a June 2009 deadline for resolving Ireland's rejection of the treaty.

Alluding to his scheduled visit to Dublin on July 11th, Mr Sarkozy said: "I will go there to try to understand with them what we can do to sort out the situation. We mustn't hurry. At the same time, we don't have much time. What is the deadline? June 2009, because there are European elections."

The Czech Republic will also likely pose a problem for Mr Sarkozy with many lawmakers in the centre-right ruling coalition cool the treaty, starting with eurosceptic President Vaclav Klaus.

At summit in Brussels last month EU leaders insisted the ratification process would continue, but agreed to an Irish request to delay trying to find a way to overcome its "no" vote until the next summit in October.