Monday, August 02, 2004

Solana speaks again

Mr Solana is getting tiresome. No sooner has he announced to the startled world that the EU needs to go out there and fight wherever it felt like fighting in order, supposedly, to protect its citizens at home, than up he pops again, this time in Hungary to chide the United States for acting unilaterally and not listening to the rest of the international community, as represented by him and his friends Chirac and Schröder.

Solana was clearly trying to turn the New Europe away from its support of the United States, Britain and the rest of the coalition. He said rather peevishly that the United States should make the EU an equal partner in its international dealings but then went into full-scale criticism mode: We disagree about the death penalty," he said.

We disagree about the International Tribunal. We disagree about all these things linked to multilateralism in which we believe and (in which) they believe less. And to a certain extent the big military power may probably think that it is not necessary (to have) the rule based societies. But for us we believe that the rule based societies are fundamental.
It is a little hard to work out from that what Mr Solana thinks is a rule based society and why he thinks that the United States is not while some of the EU's allies, such as China is. The death penalty is an irrelevance – it is perfectly possible to have it in a rule-based society.

The International Tribunal is also an irrelevance. It comes under an international organization most of whose members would not know a rule-based society if it got up and bit them in the street.

Solana was a little unlucky. His speech at the gathering of Hungarian ambassadors followed that of Secretary of State Colin Powell, in which he called on the Hungarian government not to withdraw its 300 troops from Iraq. Powell got his wish. László Kovács, the Hungarian Foreign Minister, assured him that Hungary will stay in Iraq till the end of the year, just as other East European countries.

Your kind words about our contribution to the stabilization in Iraq or Afghanistan encouraged me to say that we are going to continue that,
Kovács said. Then he reminded Powell that Hungary will want to see some reward in the shape of reconstruction contracts in the two countries. These will go to those who had taken part in the military operations.

Solana faces something of a problem. He may talk long and loud (and boringly) about the EU and the need for the United States and the EU as well as the rest of the international community to work together but when it comes to practice, European countries continue to push for their own interests and the United States seems to prefer dealing with them individually.

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