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Lady Ashton's keeping up appearances
by Thanos Kalamidas
2012-03-09 07:43:08
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Lady Ashton, the invisible representative of the European Union for the foreign affairs hasn’t made many headlines since the day she took over loyal to her decorative role in the European commission but she managed to get some columns last week with her visit to Finland. The reason that suddenly moved Lady Ashton from her office and her floating non-existence in European foreign affairs was Vladimir Putin and his return to the Russian throne.

Vladimir’s return to the Russian throne was not a surprise; either was not a  surprise the discomfort of the European Union and Lady Ashton’s presence in Finland just verifies that the Union has absolutely no idea how to deal with this contemporary essence of Machiavellianism. And that while it shows the inability of the EU to practice a common foreign policy and the east Europeans to get over their old – any more - intolerance with anything Russian and continue with their lives. Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are four former Russian allies who hate everything Russian connecting Russian with the communist Soviet Union; all of them EU members with Poland and Estonia championing the anti-Russian menace in that level that perhaps EU should interfere especially since the Russian minorities in Estonia for example live in status of second category citizens with pets included in the first category. Unfortunately Putin’s re-election makes them jumpy and Lady Ashton had to do something more than pompous declarations to keep them quiet. So a diplomatic trip served the cause.

And then it is Finland. Finland for all the lovers of spy novels and pulp fiction holds a majestic place as the last frontier before the Russian bear and an extended and widely publicized visit was expected. Lady Ashton did nothing more than showing her face and passing the message to the Russians that “we are watching you” but the message has no effect since they were always watching them but when the Georgian issue exploded all of them were shocked and unprepared for any kind of reaction even a diplomatic one. And when they actually reacted it was too late for anything.

Putin from the other side is back, stronger than everything and having organized and securing the Russian bureaucracy the way he wanted after four years as prime minister; ready to continue his plan to remerge Russia to her old status as superpower. Putin has aimed the Russian economic prosperity and growing international prestige and doesn’t matter all the objections and doubts he has managed pretty well so well that he has managed without doing anything to split the European Union in two sides. The one of the east Europeans that react to any relation with the eastern neighbour and the other that wants a Russia more included in European issues, major player in energy issues and an ally to certain geopolitical agendas with Germany and France leading the latest group.

Putin is still a mystery for the west and his Machiavellian attitude is not a guarantee for what is coming, but he has the vast majority of the Russians supporting him – despite the often televised demonstrations - and Russia is a big country with enormous possibilities and powers. Putin has used his power against media and opposition in a criminal force, questionable not only for their human rights aspect but also regarding their criminal side. But what the average Russian sees is the return of the stability that was lost so badly after Yeltsin and most importantly the return of their dignity that was lost after the fall of the Berlin wall and that despite the fact that the majority of the Russians hate the soviet era and the communist regime that ruled the country for nearly a century.

But as I said Lady Ashton is keeping up appearances and the fact that the European Union has absolutely no plan regarding Putin and Putin’s Russia remains with the European states divided in two regarding the gigantic neighbour who is there to remind, aside form economics and defence, that the European Union is deeply in crisis without any solutions even suggestions and all that making Lady Ashton’s invisible presence the essence of the EU thinking, don’t say, don’t do, just keep up appearances

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Eva2012-03-09 10:40:52
You're right, Ashton's job is a joke.
Unfortunately, as with a lot of things within the EU, the intention is/was good, but the implementation of various plans somehow fizzle out along the way and ends up in... nothing.
I wish things were different.

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