Concern at French vote

While expressing concern at French voters’ rejection of the new European Constitution, Athens yesterday said other European Union member states should go ahead as planned with the process of ratifying the key document. Some 55 percent of the French electorate voted against the constitution in a referendum on Sunday. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said that while the referendum result «must be respected,» it was at the same time «a development which causes concern to all of us.» «The effort must not stop here,» he added. «The process of ratification in the other member states has not yet been completed. They must go ahead normally, without any delays, under the agreed procedure.» Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis said the result was a cause for concern, «but should not be over-dramatized.» «The problem is political, not legal, but there is a long road ahead of us,» he said. «We must explain Europe to its citizens in a better and more extensive manner.» The Communist Party hailed the French vote as «a most positive development.» «The ‘no’ vote is an example of disobedience and refusal to comply with the barbarous face of the European Union,» a party statement said. Synaspismos Left Coalition also voiced satisfaction with France’s rejection of the constitution. «This is a message of hope to all the peoples of Europe,» party leader Alekos Alavanos said. The nine EU members that have already ratified the constitution are Austria, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.