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Czech, Italian PMs differ on EU constitution

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi did not agree with his Czech counterpart Mirek Topolanek on the issue of EU constitution, CTK reported on Monday.

The Italian government wanted to base the reform of the EU on the original text of the constitutional treaty which France and the Netherlands rejected in referendums two years ago. Topolanek's government, on the contrary, rejected the European constitution's current text. Nevertheless, the two leaders agreed that the new constitutional treaty may be based on the original text. „We agreed that it is possible to base the future text on the treaty,” Topolanek said.

Prodi, former European Commission president, said that 18 out of 27 EU member states have ratified the original document of 2004, and that the opinion of these countries should be respected just as the opinion of the countries that have rejected the constitution, or did not launch the process of ratification at all. All countries must show the ability to cooperate and that the current constitution's text is a starting point for a new document, Prodi said.

Topolanek repeated that the new document should be ratified by the beginning of 2009 when the Czech Republic will take over EU presidency. Further discussion on the original document is unnecessary after the French and Dutch said they would not repeat the process, Topolanek said. Italy has approved the European constitution, while the Czech Republic has not started the process of ratification after the French and Dutch said „no” to the constitution.

The Czech republic said that the new constitutional document should not contain „quasi-constitutional symbols,” such as the term constitution and EU foreign minister. The Czech government does not want the new treaty to include the Human Rights Charter, either. (