NEWS

Iraq derails EU summit

The European Union’s Spring Summit ended in Brussels yesterday, with a common declaration to pursue economic development and modernization along the lines stated at another Spring Summit three years ago, in Lisbon. However, despite the affirmation by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night that «the European Council (of heads of state and government) cannot be a victim of the war, and it was not,» the items on the agenda were overshadowed by the war in Iraq and the EU members’ persistent and deep divisions over that subject and the relationship with the United States. «This meeting was surreal,» Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said. «People did everything to cover up the fundamental problems,» he added, calling the atmosphere at the meeting «icy,» the Agence France-Presse reported. Late on Thursday night, the 15 EU members adopted a declaration on Iraq that avoided any mention of the current situation and focused on the postwar period. They affirmed their commitment to Iraq’s territorial integrity and prosperity and confirmed they would help with the provision of humanitarian aid. This minimal position attracted criticism. «The European Union: A Real Power or a Super-NGO?» was the ironic headline in yesterday’s Libre Belgique newspaper. «We must aim at something different than the cliche: The US fights, the UN feeds and the EU pays,» said European Parliament President Pat Cox. Within Greece, the left-wing opposition parties lambasted the EU. «They did not even find one word to say about this dirty war,» said a statement by the Greek Communist Party’s Central Committee. «The Greek presidency, under the pretext of neutrality, led the EU to the role of passive spectator of the illegal US invasion,» said Left Coalition President Nikos Constantopoulos.