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Czech president says EU's Lisbon treaty finished

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech President Vaclav Klaus said on Friday that ratification of the European Union’s Lisbon treaty could not continue after it was rejected by Irish voters.

The reform treaty has hit a potential stumbling block in the Czech Republic, where the upper house of parliament has asked the constitutional court to judge whether the charter is compatible with the country’s constitution.

The Irish rejection is a huge setback to the treaty, which must be ratified by all 27 EU member states to come into force.

“The Lisbon treaty project ended today with the decision of the Irish voters and its ratification cannot be continued,” Klaus, a eurosceptic long opposed to deeper European integration, said in a statement.

“The result is hopefully a clear message to everybody. It is a victory of freedom and reason over artificial elitist projects and European bureaucracy.”

Klaus’s position is mostly ceremonial but his duties include signing treaties ratified by parliament. The Czech Republic, which joined the EU in 2004, will hold the bloc’s rotating presidency in the first half of next year.

Speaking to Reuters before Klaus’s statement, Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra said the court would continue its assessment of the treaty. A ruling is expected in the autumn.

“The process is continuing here, I expect the constitutional court will not put its consideration on ice but will make a resolution,” Vondra said in a brief telephone interview.

Asked if ratification could proceed if cleared by the constitutional court, given the Irish rejection, Vondra said:

“Of course it can. But I think it does not make sense to make any conclusions now, we will see.”

Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Catherine Evans