Sarkozy warns Czechs on Lisbon


French president Nicolas Sarkozy has warned the Czech Republic it will have to face the “consequences” if its president refuses to sign the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr Sarkozy sought to increase the pressure on Czech president Vaclav Klaus, who has so far refused to sign the Lisbon Treaty in a move that is delaying its ratification in the Czech Republic.

Speaking to reporters following an informal EU leader’s summit in Brussels late last night, he said: “I stated clearly that if the Irish say Yes, there is no question that we will accept to stay in a no-man’s land with a Europe that does not have the institutions to cope with the crisis,” he said.

“It will be necessary to draw the consequences - but those will be the subject of another meeting,” added Mr Sarkozy, who did not spell out any of the potential consequences that could face the Czech Republic.

Mr Klaus has said he won’t sign the treaty until the Irish people vote Yes and the Czech constitutional court rules on a new challenge to the treaty. This has prompted renewed fears in Brussels that a delay could allow the Conservatives to take power in Britain and kill the treaty before it is ratified.

A debate had begun between EU states on the best way to nudge Mr Klaus and the Czech government to ratify the treaty as soon as possible in the event of a yes vote in Ireland. Paris wants to pile the pressure on Mr Klaus, arguing that the Czech government and parliament have accepted the treaty and Mr Klaus is frustrating the will of the people.

But other states, including Britain, believe it would be very unwise to push the Czechs into a corner.

Czech prime minister Jan Fischer, who also reported to EU leaders on the ratification process of the treaty in his country at the summit, told reporters his EU counterparts had expressed their concern to him.

“It is certainly a fact that several government leaders perceive the ratification process in the Czech Republic with a degree of nervousness,” he said.