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LISBON TREATY : SARKOZY'S REMARKS SPARK IRISH FURY.

This could well be the first faux pas by Nicolas Sarkozy as president-in-office of the European Council. The remarks made on 15 July in Paris by the French head of state - at a private meeting with UMP members of parliament he said the Irish would have to vote again on the Lisbon Treaty, rejected by them on 12 June (see Europolitics 3574) - could have a negative impact in Ireland.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen has tried to minimise the matter, stating on 16 July: "We have to recognise that there are a lot of opinions expressed in Europe on the problems facing us after rejection" of the treaty. According to the Irish Times, however, the prime minister is suppressing his anger because those in the Taoiseach's inner circle are furious in the run-up to Sarkozy's visit to Dublin, on 21 July. The Elysee continues to say that the aim of the president's visit to Dublin is to "listen," but not everyone is convinced. "We do not intend to be intimidated by anyone. We are going to study the problem from an Irish perspective, in terms of what is best for Ireland's interests," commented Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin. In the Sinn Fein, the only party that supported the no' in the referendum, the French president's position is seen as "deeply insulting". Even the opposition Labour Party, which campaigned for approval of the treaty, says Sarkozy has "made a serious faux-pas".

In Paris, the president's advisers are trying to be diplomatic. Noting that this was a private meeting, they acknowledge that a possible solution would be to ask the Irish to vote again when the time comes, but "probably not on the same text, perhaps on one with exceptions".

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Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Jul 18, 2008
Words:287
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