Mending fences

Greek Prime Minister and head of the EU’s rotating presidency Costas Simitis is currently on a visit to Washington where he is scheduled to meet with US President George W. Bush in what is hoped to constitute «the starting point for a new era in the strategic partnership between the United States and Europe,» the government spokesman said. Simitis is prepared to sign an agreement for the extradition to the US of European citizens who are accused of terrorist acts. The two sides are not expected to reach a consensus on the economically crucial issue of genetically modified food, where European opposition remains strong. Nevertheless, the essence of the US-EU summit concerns Europe’s political will to mend its ties with the American superpower; ties that were seriously damaged by European opposition to the US-led campaign in Iraq. The European overture toward the White House was made evident during the Halkidiki summit. The warm welcome of the proposals by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana for a first European security strategy reinforced the Continent’s desire for a rapprochement with Washington. This desire was expressed at two levels. The first was in its declaration: «The transatlantic relationship is irreplaceable. Acting together, the European Union and the United States can be a formidable force for good in the world,» Solana’s strategy document said, underscoring Europe’s bent for reconciliation. Secondly, and more importantly, the EU leaders in Halkidiki largely adopted Washington’s views on terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, pre-emptive strikes, and action against the so-called rogue states. In this aspect, Solana’s document was a milestone in European foreign policy. «The EU takes US view on security threats, if not solutions,» the subtitle of a Financial Times editorial read on Saturday. «Clearly, EU leaders are doing their rhetorical best to convince Washington they could play deputy to its role of sheriff in maintaining global security,» the lead editorial of the London-based newspaper said. It is in the gradual convergence of the views on both sides of the Atlantic that the possibility of rapprochement lies. There seems reason to believe that the West may soon regain a single voice.

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