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Page last updated at 17:55 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 18:55 UK

Havel attacks Klaus on EU treaty

Vaclav Havel. Photo: 15 October 2009
This was Mr Havel's harshest attack on Mr Klaus in years

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel has said his successor Vaclav Klaus is damaging the country's name in Europe by refusing to sign the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr Havel, who is credited with toppling communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989, said Mr Klaus's attitude was dangerous.

President Klaus has so far not publicly responded to Mr Havel's comments.

The Czech Republic is the only EU state yet to ratify the treaty, which is aimed at streamlining EU institutions in the 27-member bloc.

Last week, Mr Klaus said he wanted his country to have an exemption from the Charter of Fundamental Rights before he would sign the treaty.

The demand threatens a further delay over the reform treaty, correspondents say.

Czech confused

Speaking in Prague, Mr Havel said his successor's refusal to sign the treaty showed a lack of understanding of the Czech Constitution.

Czech President, Vaclav Klaus
President Klaus has compared EU institutions to the old Soviet bloc

Mr Havel also said the president's attitude was "irresponsible" and "harming this republic".

The two men have in the past frequently clashed with on both domestic and foreign policy, but this was Mr Havel's harshest attack in years, the BBC's Rob Cameron in Prague says.

The two men hold diametrically opposed views in many areas of life, reflecting the deep divisions in modern Czech society, our correspondent says.

He adds that on the Lisbon Treaty, however, the Czech public seems rather confused: many share Mr Klaus's concerns over European integration and respect his decision to defy it; but neither do they want their president to lead them into isolation.



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