At a press conference in Lübeck, Chirac, with Schröder’s agreement announced:
"Germany and France reiterate their full support for Kofi Annan whose commitment to the aims of the United Nations is total."Presumably, what triggered off that gratuitous and rather fatuous statement was a call on the part of Republican Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate investigations sub-committee that is probing into the oil-for-food scam, for Annan to resign.
The argument that a politician should resign because grave infringements of legality and morality had taken place on his watch is not one that would appeal to President Chirac and Chancellor Schröder seems to find it difficult to say no to anything his friend Jacques tells him to do.
Several questions spring to one’s mind. The first one is what will Tony Blair do. On the one hand, his friend President Bush is calling for a full and frank enquiry into the scandal and is not distancing himself from the calls for Annan’s resignation. On the other hand his friends Jacques and Gerhard are giving their full support to Annan.
Then there is the problem of what will happen as the investigations unroll. With every new discovery the slime of suspicion comes closer and closer to Kofi Annan, threatening to engulf him completely. How long will the two European leaders support him, partly to spite the Americans and partly because, as we have written before repeatedly, there is an ideological bond between the UN and the EU?
Then there is Iran. Britain, France and Germany are insisting that, despite the fact, that all their negotiations with that country over nuclear constructions end with the mullahs throwing their toys out of the pram and refusing to do what they supposed to have signed up to, subtle diplomacy must continue. However, it is worth noting that the alternative the Americans are suggesting ever more forcefully, is not invasion or military measures of any kind, but putting the case to the UN Security Council. Why are the three European countries so against that course of action?