Czech premier: Klaus' Lisbon opt-out could work for Slovakia

Prague  - Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer said Monday that an exemption from a part of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, demanded by President Vaclav Klaus as a condition for his approval, should also work for Slovakia.

As a condition for his signature, the Czech president wants the Czech Republic to get an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, a part of the treaty, to prevent potential property claims by former Czechoslovakia's ethnic Germans expelled after World War II.

Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak said Sunday that Bratislava would veto the Czech exemption if it did not apply to Slovakia, which once formed a joint state with the neighbouring Czech Republic.

"We have only two options," said Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico in a video message posted on his website on Monday. "Either we will veto the Czech proposal in the European Council or insist that it also applies to Slovakia."

Fischer said that he believes that the exemption's phrasing should prevent a Slovak veto of the Czech president's demand. "I still believe that we will find such a formulation that would make
(the veto) groundless," the premier told reporters.

The Czech president, a fierce opponent of the Lisbon Treaty, is the last obstacle to its coming into force.

While Brussels views the pact as a tool for raising the 27-member bloc's profile in the world arena, Klaus sees it as a bad deal for his country and a wrong path for the EU.

He said that the treaty's rights charter poses a threat to property rights of the Czech citizens, as it could allow the expelled Germans to sue for their property in the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

The opt-out's wording is currently being negotiated among the Czech government, Klaus office and the Swedish EU presidency, Fischer said.

Czechs are likely to table their proposal at the EU summit in Brussels on October 29-30. Slovakia ratified the accord on May 12, 2008.(dpa)