Anti-Lisbon Treaty group registers branch in Czech Republic
The pan-European movement Libertas, which successfully rallied opposition to the European Union's Lisbon Treaty in Ireland, has registered a branch in the Czech Republic, it was revealed on Wednesday.
The party, listed since January 13, was registered by the Czech member of the European Parliament and former television magnate, Vladimir Zelezny, the Lidove Noviny daily reported Wednesday, citing a Libertas spokeswoman.
"Yes, it is our branch. We registered Libertas in the Czech Republic. Vladimir Zelezny did it with our knowledge," the newspaper cited the movement's spokeswoman Anita Kelly as saying, reported dpa.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus, an outspoken critic of the Lisbon, or reform, treaty and deeper European integration, publicly backed the Libertas group, founded by Irish businessman and anti-Lisbon activist Declan Ganley, while on a state visit to Ireland in November.
Libertas is not the only anti-Lisbon group launched in the Czech Republic in the run-up to June's European Parliament election. Klaus' former aide Petr Mach spearheaded efforts to register the eurosceptic Free Citizens' Party.
Both outfits oppose EU's the reform pact, stalled since Irish voters rejected it in a public vote in June 2008.
Opponents see the accord, which aimed to streamline decision-making in the enlarged 27-member union, as a bad deal for small EU members and a threat to their sovereignty.
The Czech Republic, which presides over the EU until June 30, is due to negotiate with Ireland about conditions that would lift the treaty from limbo.
However, the central European country of 10.3 million is the last member state yet to vote on the pact.
Czech lawmakers are set to resume debating the treaty in February, but the ratification process may face further delays.