President Klaus is the last obstacle to the completion of the treaty’s ratification and to the creation of a new EU President, foreign minister and European diplomatic service.
“I fear, and I am not the only person to fear, a deepening of EU integration,” he said during a visit to Moscow.
Mr Klaus, the EU’s only openly Eurosceptic head of state, has demanded new “opt-outs” from the Lisbon Treaty to prevent Germans expelled from the Czech Sudeten region after World War II from reclaiming their property.
“For me it is something of vital importance. In my opinion, the conditions that I have made for signing the agreement are serious,” he said.
The Czech Republic has been warned that it could lose its seat on the European Commission and face other unspecified “consequences” unless the country’s president abandons his solitary struggle against the EU.
A stern warning yesterday from Brussels that the Czechs could lose their place at Europe’s top table elicited only a shrug in Prague castle. Behind its ramparts, President Klaus maintained an enigmatic silence, but his footmen let it be known that he was in no mood to put pen to paper.
The rest of the EU has already ratified the Lisbon treaty, Tony Blair is waiting for the nod allowing him to move into a sumptuous residence in Brussels, but President Klaus is still playing poker with Europe.
We now have over 10 000 signatures for the petition to support Vaclav Klaus!
The President of the Czech Republic has no intention of signing the Lisbon treaty, a move that might allow David Cameron time to hold a British referendum on Europe.
President Klaus, the fiercely Eurosceptic Czech leader, is the last obstacle for the agreement after its ratification in the other 26 EU states but he has told supporters that he will never sign, The Times has learnt.
Asked during a walkabout on Sunday not to put his name to the treaty, Mr Klaus replied: “Don’t worry, I won’t.”
The crisis over the EU Lisbon Treaty has deepened after the Czech Republic’s government backed down in a battle with President Vaclav Klaus over his refusal to sign the text.
Jan Fischer, the caretaker prime minister, announced a climb-down after an emergency cabinet meeting in Prague, saying he would negotiate President Vaclav Klaus’s call for a new Lisbon Treaty “opt-out” when he met other European Union leaders later this month.
Mr Fischer, who has been summoned to Brussels on Tuesday to explain the Czech position, was forced to admit that he was unsure whether Mr Klaus would sign the EU Treaty, even if his demand was met.“The government would like to have clear and sound guarantees from the side of the head of state that this is actually the last step from his side and no other additional conditions will be added,” he said.
The preferred EU option is to offer the Czech Republic “legal guarantees” such as those that were given to Ireland, before the country held its second, successful referendum on the treaty earlier this month.
This route would prevent any need to re-ratify in all 27 EU member states and would allow the Lisbon Treaty to enter into force next year.
But Ladislav Jakl, Mr Klaus’s spokesman, has ruled out this method “as an absolutely impossible way forward”.
“The guarantees given to Ireland are not guarantees. They were a political declaration in a style such that the Irish wolf filled its stomach and the Lisbon goat remained whole,” he told the Lidové Noviny newspaper.
Any demand from the Mr Klaus for reopening of the Lisbon Treaty text to insert an “opt-out” would be refused by the other EU countries.
In faraway Brussels furious diplomats were calling for his impeachment and even his country’s expulsion from the European Union because of his obstinate refusal to sign the Lisbon treaty. Klaus, now the only European leader holding out against ratifying the document, made it clear he did not give a damn.
“I have always considered this treaty a step in the wrong direction,” Klaus said. As he is well aware, the slightest change to the treaty, which was first proposed in 2001, would require all 27 EU member countries to agree.
His remarks were greeted with outrage in Europe. German and French diplomats, in talks with their Czech counterparts, explored two ways of removing the Klaus obstacle: impeach him or change the Czech constitution to take away his right of veto.
Klaus is unlikely to give in without at least some concessions. He is said to want to be seen as the leader who derailed the European project. A comparison is being drawn in Prague with Edvard Benes, the pre-war Czech leader who in 1938 had to flee to Britain after refusing to cede territory to Hitler under the Munich agreement.