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Eyes On Czechs After Irish EU Vote; Poles To Sign

Czech President Vaclav Klaus made no promises after the Irish vote result was clear.
DUBLIN (Reuters) -- Opponents of the European Union's Lisbon reform treaty urged Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Saturday not to sign the charter and to stop it going into force, even though it has been approved by Irish voters.

Irish voters overwhelmingly backed the treaty at the second time of asking in a referendum on October 2. But it cannot be implemented until it has been ratified by all 27 member states, and the signatures of two EU leaders are still missing.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski said before the referendum that he would ratify the treaty if Ireland backed it. "The moment Mr. President knows the final and official results, he signs it immediately," Pawel Wypych, a minister at Kaczynski's chancellery, said after the result appeared clear. "It won't happen over this weekend, but it's a matter of days."

But Czech President Vaclav Klaus gave no indication that he would sign it, despite growing pressure from other EU leaders.

"I hope Vaclav Klaus can hold out as long as possible. But it will be very difficult," Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, said.

"I expect a lot of pressure to be put on him from all sides in the EU and in the Czech Republic. We will just have to wait and see what happens."

The treaty would streamline EU decision-making and most EU leaders hope it will strengthen the bloc in world affairs.

Opponents see it as a step toward a European superstate that would dilute national sovereignty.

Looking To Britain's Conservatives

Soon after the outcome of the Irish referendum became clear, several EU leaders urged Klaus and Kaczynski to sign the treaty, which has been approved by the Polish and Czech parliaments.

"I hope that the necessary procedures for its entry into force can be completed as quickly as possible in Poland and the Czech Republic," said Jose Manual Barroso, president of the executive European Commission.

But groups that oppose the treaty in Ireland said they hoped Klaus would hold out until Britain's parliamentary election next year, which the Conservatives are widely expected to win.

Conservative leader David Cameron has promised a referendum on the charter although Britain has already ratified it.

"I would urge the Czech president not to sign the treaty into force. If he resists, then it will give the British public, who were promised a referendum, a chance to decide once and for all," said Libertas leader Declan Ganley, who led opposition to the treaty when Irish voters rejected it in June 2008.

Coir, a prominent opponent of the treaty in Ireland's second referendum campaign, said the Czech Republic was the "next port of call in the fight against Brussels."

"We have conceded the battle in Ireland, but the war goes on and we hope the Czech president will take up the fight just enough to allow the Conservatives to kill the treaty in Britain," Coir spokesman Richard Greene said.