Just at the time that reports are confirmed that US commando forces have engaged in clashes on Afghan territory and US President George W. Bush has rejected calls by humanitarian groups for a temporary halt to air strikes so that organizations can deal with the serious problems plaguing the supply of food to refugees, the European Union is suffering from collateral blows which undermine the cohesion of the 15 member countries. The initiative by the EU’s Big Three nations – namely Britain, France and Germany – to meet in private ahead of the 15-nation talks in Ghent, in order to assess the international situation, as France’s President Jacques Chirac’s office put it, and consult on their level of participation in the joint US-British campaign, caused the indignation of their European partners as there was a clear attempt to separate the troika of big states from the other European nations. Italy’s reaction was particularly strong while, once again, Portugal expressed the view that terrorism concerns all 15 nations. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder gave the excuse that Europe needs a common foreign policy and until it has one, the larger states have to consult each other at a higher level. On the other fronts, there is an increasing number of anthrax cases worldwide. Yesterday, there was an anthrax case in the New York Post’s office; France has taken special measures for the protection of its nuclear plants; the Palestinian crisis is escalating and the rest of the world seems to be suffering the economic fallout of the crisis. In September, 250,000 people were fired in the USA alone while 700,000 people lost their jobs throughout the world over the same period as all large firms proceeded with massive layoffs. Our country seems stable for the time being but no one can be sure that it will not be effected by the crisis, with tourism being the first to suffer.

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