Dublin - Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin on Wednesday described visiting Czech President Vaclav Klaus' meeting with the leader of the Eurosceptic group that campaigned successfully against the Lisbon Treaty in June as "an inappropriate intervention."
Speaking on Irish state RTE Radio, Martin said that while Klaus had the right to include private elements to his state visit, his appearance before reporters with Declan Ganley of the Libertas group Tuesday evening meant that a private dinner "turned out to be much more political."
Libertas led a successful campaign to defeat the Lisbon Treaty in a June referendum in Ireland, the only EU member to hold a popular vote to ratify the treaty. The Lisbon Treaty aimed at simplifying the decision-making process in the 27-member bloc.
Openly-Eurosceptic Klaus said Tuesday evening that "freedom and liberty will not be enhanced" by the treaty and he claimed that Czechs shared the opposition of the citizens of Ireland to it.
Klaus said he supported Ganley, whom he described as a "dissident" like himself: Western Europeans were only too happy to praise Klaus during the communist era, he said.
Ganley reiterated his aim of expanding Libertas Europe-wide to fight in upcoming elections to the European Parliament. Attending the dinner with Klaus was the leader of France's Euro-sceptic MPLF party, Viscount Philippe de Villiers.
"I am very confident the view of the Irish electorate is the view is the majority of Europeans," Ganley said Tuesday evening. He said the European elections would be a chance for the population of Europe to have their view on Lisbon heard.
"I hope that Mr Ganley can do at the European level what he did in Ireland and I am at his disposal for this election," de Villiers said through an interpreter.
"If Mr Ganley wins the European elections, I will be the first one to congratulate him," Klaus added.
Klaus' meeting with Ganley could embarrass Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, who is scrambling to offer Brussels some way of reviving the ratification of the treaty halted by his country's No vote.
Cowen said Monday after meeting Klaus that his government would look at Ireland's rejection of Lisbon next month "with a view to defining the elements of a solution and a common path to be followed."
Foreign Minister Martin downplayed Klaus' remarks Wednesday morning, saying the Czech government was pro-treaty and would ratify it as soon as it clears the Czech Constitutional Court.
The court delayed a public hearing on the constitutionality of the treaty Monday as Klaus, who opposes it, wanted to be present. The hearing is now set take place in the city of Brno on November 25 with Klaus present.
Martin would not be drawn on whether the Irish would be asked to vote in a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty to secure a Yes vote.
Ireland rejected Lisbon's predecessor, the Nice Treaty, in 2001, but approved it in a second referendum a year later. (dpa)
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