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When Europe lost her momentum
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-09-24 07:36:42
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Reading what the American president said at the 65th United Nations General Assembly about diplomacy and foreign policy I felt suddenly very sad for Europe and I remembered the dreams that build the European Union thirty and forty years ago. Among the dozens of leaders that gathered in New York to listen this speech included leaders from Europe and I really wander what they were thinking and if for a moment they thought that they lost their momentum, their chance to be the once who had the opportunity to act as the diplomatic bridge between all the nations and all the conflicts.

And I have good reason emphasizing the seventies because at the time the European Union was still an economic partnership with a bright future but most of the founders were dreaming that this future would be constructive globally using all the resources the nations of Europe had gathered for centuries. Just think how powerful this partnership looked back then despite the personalities that led politically every state individually.

It was the United Kingdom with all the political influence and access in Africa, Australia and the Arab countries; it was France with influence in Africa, Asia and again Arab world. Then Italy, Germany, Holland and Belgium with their own access and influences to Africa and Asia and even Israel and from the smaller countries even Greece had a great relationship and influence to the Arab world and especially to the countries that belonged to the independent movement. And then it was the military combination of all of them. Fine, the Arabs might didn’t welcome a British involvement but they would have been fine with an Italian-Spanish-Greek armed combination to keep the peace in the Gaza strip during the negotiations. Negotiations that other European nations acceptable from both sides could handle.

And I took Middle East as an example just to show the diplomatic power of the European nations when they can work together. Imagine the influence Spain and Portugal have in South America and make it work for the good of all; even the Vatican – despite my personal reserves – could be useful in a diplomatic race for the global peace. Think how many Europeans all the UN General Secretaries have used from the foundations of the organization in peace missions. Even the newest members of the Union like Finland have contributed to the global peace in just too many ways; from troops to the former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari.

But I’m afraid the only ones who missed the point and the only ones who managed to destroy all the chances for Europe to become the global negotiator it has been the European themselves. And there is nothing against the American president and all the American presidents before that tried to bring peace in the Middle East but it has to do with the Europeans that had the right momentums, the right accesses and they lost their chances.

But then when you trust the future of the Union in its most critical moment to Solana and Barroso what would you expect? And till now I haven’t said much about the new president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy respecting the fact that he needs time even to understand what the hell Barroso has been doing for so long and how badly he has screwed Europe but time passes quickly and Mr. Van Rompuy seems to be invisible. Regarding Ms Ashton we better leave it, she has forgotten what she’s doing there and still trying to find her way inside the Commission’s building.

The continent that started modern civilization has become the relic of history. The continent that wrote the book of diplomacy got lost in the theory and missed the practice and in the beginning of the 21st century looks in decadence of its own self and from a puppeteer to an old out of fashion puppet in the attic. And all that after the events in Kosovo when the fall became cataclysmic. The events in Iraq were the real fall and Lebanon the bottom.

President Obama finished his speech reminding to all of us that the time to do something for global peace is here but unfortunately the Europeans had lost their chance, they were asleep!

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Emanuel Paparella2010-09-24 12:40:07
Indeed Thanos, I concur that when the wound is deep one needs more than band aids to cure it. One needs the correct diagnosis followed by the correct prognosis. What makes present prognosis of what ails the EU so irrelevant and wrongheaded is that the diagnosis is missing. I for one would suggest that the correct diagnosis ought to include a serious examination of the cultural identity of the EU, that the search is for the very soul of the EU which has been exchanged for a dish of lentils, that is to say, the search is for what it means to be a European. I always come back to the pivotal lesson of Italian “unification,” which is simply this: to say after the unification “now that we have made Italy we need to make the Italians” can only mean one thing, that the cart has been put before the horse. I don’t claim that such was the case at the beginning of the EU in the 50s, for its founders were visionaries and well understood that the cultural identity, and the intellectual and the spiritual were the horse that went before the cart of purely economic political considerations. I do claim that such is the case now when we have mere crass politicians parading as statesman and visionaries redolent of the naked emperor who thinks he is elegantly dressed. To change metaphor, a giant which was the original vision of the EU of its founding fathers has been tied down by the Lilliputians whose vision goes no further than a common bank and soccer games on Sunday and has been rendered impotent. That original diagnosis is indeed a troubling and sad one, but it may be the starting point for reaching a correct prognosis.

marianne2010-09-24 14:03:21
Time to stand up! Europeans and not our politicians puppets have the future in their hands!

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