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French Implored to Vote 'Yes' for EU Pact

Associated Press | May 19, 2005

NANCY, France -- The leaders of Poland and Germany joined France's president on Thursday in imploring the French to vote for the EU constitution in their May 29 referendum.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said all nations in the bloc needed to pitch in to develop the European Union, but he added at a news conference of the three heads of state: "We especially need France."

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said Poland's first year in the European Union has been a success story that needs to continue.

"I wish for myself, for France and for all of us, that this constitutional treaty will be adopted here on May 29," Kwasniewski said.

"It will be a very important sign for the Polish referendum," Kwasniewski said, which he said he hopes will be held later this year.

The meeting in this eastern French city -- the sixth summit of the so-called Weimar Triangle -- was previously planned to discuss a range of EU issues. But the referendum in France in less than two weeks has outweighed other concerns.

"France has a responsibility not to let other (Europeans) down," the German leader said.

All 25 must approve the constitution for it to take effect.

French polls show that the "no" camp, after falling back, is again gaining ground.

As voting day approaches, a steady stream of European leaders and officials have traveled to France to support Chirac's campaign for a "yes."

Schroeder stood side-by-side with Chirac in Paris last month to urge the French to vote "yes." German lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the constitution in a parliamentary vote earlier this month. The charter is expected to pass its final legislative hurdle with an upper house vote May 27, two days before the fiercely contested referendum in France.

Governments had the option of submitting the decision of whether to ratify the treaty to parliaments or the people. Poland is expected to hold a referendum later this year.


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