OPINION

No single voice

The recent letter published by eight European leaders expressing their backing for US President George W. Bush on Iraq cannot be said to have undermined the European Union’s single voice on foreign policy issues, simply because there is no such voice. When it comes to major international issues, the EU merely supplements American policy. European leaders may occasionally express their disagreements with Washington, but this is merely done to woo public opinion or to sustain the myth of independent power that is still nourished by some European states. It is in this light that we should also read the joint statement by French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder who, acting outside the institutional contours of the EU, snubbed Washington’s impatience to attack Iraq. Paradoxically, despite being at the head of the EU’s rotating presidency, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis did not react at the time, but when British Prime Minister Tony Blair formed a front to respond to the Franco-German axis, the premier of supposedly powerful Greece rushed to castigate those who dared overstep the limits of a non-existent common European policy. It is worth noting that, unlike Simitis, neither Berlin nor Paris criticized «the eight» who signed a dramatic text underscoring the historical ties between the US and Europe…