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In faraway Brussels furious diplomats were calling for his impeachment and even his country’s expulsion from the European Union because of his obstinate refusal to sign the Lisbon treaty. Klaus, now the only European leader holding out against ratifying the document, made it clear he did not give a damn.
His remarks were greeted with outrage in Europe. German and French diplomats, in talks with their Czech counterparts, explored two ways of removing the Klaus obstacle: impeach him or change the Czech constitution to take away his right of veto.
The treaty has been approved by the Czech parliament but senators loyal to Klaus have lodged three challenges with the constitutional court, which has rejected two and is widely expected to follow suit with the third.
Opponents of the treaty hope that Klaus will be able to stall ratification until the British general election in May. David Cameron, the Tory leader, has promised a referendum if his party wins and the treaty is still unsigned.
Klaus is unlikely to give in without at least some concessions. He is said to want to be seen as the leader who derailed the European project. A comparison is being drawn in Prague with Edvard Benes, the pre-war Czech leader who in 1938 had to flee to Britain after refusing to cede territory to Hitler under the Munich agreement.