ROME (ANA/L.Hadzikyriakos) – Leaders of the 25 EU member-states, along with leaders of four candidate countries – Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Croatia – signed on Friday the EU constitutional treaty in Rome on Friday.
Under tight security – 7,000 policemen had closed off Rome’s historic centre – the 25 EU leaders signed the first EU constitution in alphabetical order, with Belgium’s Guy Verhofstadt being the first to sign and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair being the last of the 25 member states, followed by the four candidate members.
“Yesterday’s vision of those who founded a united Europe, has finally been realised,” Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in his opening speech. He also mentioned the various milestones in Europe’s history before arriving at this historical moment and emphasised that no policy and no constitution can stand without the support of citizens and governments. Berlusconi promised that Italy will look to ratify the EU constitution as quickly as possible and called for a ministerial council meeting to be held Friday evening, saying that, “Italy will be the first to ratify the Constitution.”
“The signing of the Constitution is the realisation of a dream, in which I never stopped believing even when it ran some serious risks. There are no alternatives; without the Union and without a Constitution there is no future for Europe,” Italy’s President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi said.
Turkish Premier Tayyip Erdogan, present at the signing, called on European leaders to keep their promises. “Europe and its leaders must act courageously for a great plan to become realised,” he said, adding that Turkey will continue with its reforms. He also referred to the possibility of referendums being held in various countries regarding Turkey’s EU accession, saying that no referendum has ever taken place in Europe before for such an issue and that he’s been promised that his country will not become a victim of discrimination.
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced on Friday that a public dialogue on the European constitution will begin immediately at the government’s initiative, adding that with the signing of the constitution by its 25 member-states, in Rome on Friday, the European Union is opening a new step to its future.
Roussopoulos further said that at the end of this procedure the Greek Parliament “just as in every corresponding moment until now, will ratify, and indeed in a brief period of time, the European constitution” and noted that in this way Greece will be in the forefront of Europe.
The government spokesman also said that Europe “at a historic moment of responsibility, is going ahead with its institutional shielding, it is strengthening its democratic function and its effectiveness and it is bolstering its position in the world.”
He said that the overwhelming majority of Greeks ”were and are in favour of progress and the strengthening of Europe and the European Union and this is so because a strong present and a better future of stability, peace and prosperity for the country is safeguarded in this way”.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology on Friday criticised the new European constitution in announcements made in the wake of its signing.
KKE said the celebrations of the “25” heads of state of the European Union over the signing of the “‘European constitution’ express the celebrations of the European plutocracy which shields its position even more with the ‘European constitution’ and strengthens its aggression against the peoples of Europe.”
The Coalition of the Left said the treaty on enacting a constitution signed in Rome on Friday by the leaders of the EU is in essence a creation “from above” which ”constitutionalises neo-liberalism, undermines social rights and strengthens Euroatlantism,” while stressing its position on the holding of a referendum.