OPINION

The US faction in Europe

When US Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld dismissed French and German concerns about military action against Iraq as being the thinking of «old Europe,» he was probably aware of the diplomatic torpedo that Washington and London were about to launch against the EU. The open letter signed by the eight European leaders overstepped the mark but was no bolt from the blue. Last week, Kathimerini noted that the Iraq crisis has brought to the surface the inherent contradictions that plague the project of European integration and the disagreement within the EU about relations with the USA. It was once again confirmed that the EU can’t emerge as an independent political entity in the global arena, as some of its members refuse to distance themselves from Washington, not so much because they agree with it but because they do not wish to loosen their ties with the USA. Transatlantic relations are a very sensitive matter and any disagreement within the EU is therefore normal and legitimate. What was provocative, however, was the manner in which the eight nations chose to express their position. The text itself is rather insignificant. But the move carries much political weight as it directly undermines any attempt to wage a common foreign policy. Prime Minister Costas Simitis was right in political terms to criticize this divisive initiative and defend the European Union’s institutions. The fact that he had a duty to do so by virtue of Greece’s position as EU president does not diminish the political weight of his intervention. It’s indicative that the Greek Foreign Ministry had earlier avoided making any criticism. Simitis chose to call things by their proper name, rightly assuming that the political gain would surpass the cost.