European Parliament head urges Czechs to ratify Lisbon Treaty soon
President of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Poettering expressed hopes Friday that the Czech Republic would ratify the European Union's reform treaty soon after it takes over at the helm of the 27-member bloc on January 1.
Speaking to reporters in Prague, Poettering said he hopes the Czechs approve the treaty early next year, reported dpa.
"The Czech Republic's signature under the treaty is a pledge that it will be ratified," he said at a press conference televised on the CT24 news channel. "I believe that the Czech Republic will keep its word."
The Czech Republic has been under pressure to ratify the pact, aimed at streamlining the decision-making in the union, before it assumes the six-month rotating presidency of the EU.
The Czech parliament's lower house is set to begin debating the treaty on Tuesday.
The accord has been stalled since Irish voters rejected it in a June referendum. The Czech Republic is likely to negotiate with Ireland about a way out of the impasse.
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who signed the treaty on the country's behalf, said earlier he hopes Czechs could ratify it by year-end.
But he most recently urged delaying a vote in parliament to early 2009 because of political struggle within his Civic Democratic Party.
The treaty is fiercely opposed by party's founder, President Vaclav Klaus, and his eurosceptic followers, who are to challenge Topolanek for party leadership at a congress this weekend.
Klaus has said earlier he would sign the treaty only after Ireland reverses its rejection.