Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche said today he regretted that “elements” in the Irish campaign against the Lisbon Treaty had “distorted” a quotation from former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing to support their arguments.
Mr Roche met with Mr Giscard, a former president of the European Convention which produced a draft constitution for Europe, in Dublin today. The Minister said Mr Giscard was “an ardent pro-European and democrat”.
“It is to be regretted that elements in the No campaign used a quotation from him out of its context in order to argue against the Lisbon Treaty. Such tactics are dishonest and do those who use them no credit.”
The Minister said Mr Giscard had “made clear that he supports the Lisbon Treaty”.
“There was no attempt to hoodwink the public into accepting the treaty. It was and remains dishonest of opponents of the treaty to suggest that there is some hidden agenda behind the Lisbon Treaty.”
Mr Giscard became a key figure during last year’s referendum campaign after anti-treaty group Libertas quoted him as saying the treaty meant that “public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals we dare not present to them directly”.
The quotation was taken from an interview carried in French newspaper Le Monde but the next paragraph made clear that he believed that such an approach would be “unworthy” and only confirm European citizens “in the idea that the construction of Europe is organised behind their backs by lawyers and diplomats”.
Today, Mr Roche said the treaty document represented the “considered view of 27 sovereign governments on the structures and policies that are needed to enable the EU to function effectively and for our mutual benefit in the years ahead”.
“It is in Ireland’s national interest to be at the heart of the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty equips the union with the decision-making tools it needs to meet the serious challenges we face as a union of 27 States.
“Since our referendum last June, the importance of the union, to Ireland and to Europe, has been highlighted many times over – by the events in Georgia last year, by the disruption of gas supplies from Russia in early January and most of all by the ongoing global economic and financial crisis.
“These major issues can only be handled properly by Europeans working intensively together within the EU.”