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The Future of Europe after Ira

The Future of Europe after Iraq

Lecture delivered by G.A. Papandreou at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, may 5, 2003. Source: Greek Presidency Website

1. Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here among so many distinguished guests, as well as several personal friends. I would like to thank the European Studies Centre at St Antony’s for giving me the opportunity to deliver their prestigious annual lecture.

I am especially pleased to be a guest of the South East European Studies Programme, which has just marked the end of the very successful first year of its existence. This Programme has already proved to be a pioneer in regional research and analysis, with its critical emphasis on EU integration of these countries, from the Balkans to Turkey.

Naturally, being part of the region ourselves, Greece takes a special interest in South East Europe. The stability, democratisation, and economic development of the region are priorities which I believe can be best served by ensuring that this region has a real European prospect. This tops the priorities of the Greek EU Presidency. We have formulated an agenda for the further integration of the Western Balkans, based on the Stabilisation and Association Agreements and Partnership. Supporting and encouraging the fulfilment of the accession criteria will help us to safeguard democracy, the rule of law, and human rights in these countries. During our Presidency, we have overseen the first EU peacekeeping missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and fYROM, a clear demonstration of our EU growing commitment to the region. Our message is clear: We must not allow the current enlargement or international crises elsewhere to distract us from our commitment to bringing this corner of our continent closer to the rest of Europe.

The Greek Presidency has coincided with a truly historic and testing time for our European Union. I participate in the Convention on the Future of Europe, and it will be concluding its deliberations also during our Presidency in Thessaloniki. At the same time I have also been closely involved in the Iraq crisis – an issue which has brought many critical questions that are being debated in the Convention into sharp relief. I therefore felt it appropriate to focus on a theme that embraces all these highly topical - and controversial - issues: The Future of Europe after Iraq.

2. The Greek Presidency on the Threshold of Enlargement

I would argue that the European Union is at the most crucial crossroads in its history. The Accession Ceremony in April to commemorate the biggest ever enlargement, welcoming ten new members into our family, was an occasion for celebration. It marks the end of the artificial division of our continent after the fall of the Berlin Wall, which has opened the door to a radically new Europe, allowing us to re-unite with all those European nations that share the Union’s values of freedom, solidarity and democracy.

But, at least in the international media, this milestone, this achievement of the European peace project was overshadowed by the final stages of the war in Iraq. And this in many ways was unfair to the real strengths and real achievements of the EU. Yet the Iraq crisis did highlight the fact that in a rapidly changing world, we, our Union, do not rest on our laws and also our citizens and citizens of the world expect much more from us.

In short, the Iraq crisis revealed once again the gap between our expectations and the actual potential of the European Union. Some even argue that this whole episode made a mockery of the attempt to forge ahead on foreign policy within the Convention.

I believe that, on the contrary, this is a crisis, if you like, which gives us a unique opportunity, a new contract for a new Europe is what we want to draft with the new Constitution, to reshape our Union so that it can meet both the needs and demands of its growing number of citizens, and the challenges of our globalising world. In doing so, the crucial question that we must ask ourselves is: What kind of Europe do we want, both internally and externally?

3. Lessons to be Learned from the Iraq Crisis

We were in Kastellorizo for the Informal Foreign Ministers Council, the southernmost tip of the EU as it used to be, because in a few months we will be further south with Malta and Cyprus joining. But we did pay also a brief visit to the other side, across the Aegean, to the Turkish port of Kas which is only ten minutes away in a symbolic but also very important gesture to show that our borders we want them to be borders of partnership, bridges of cooperation and in prospect for a future Turkey in the EU. But this was a real opportunity to address a large number of issues which have come to a head because of the Iraqi crisis. In fact, the Iraqi crisis uncovered a wider number of issues we tried to push to the forefront of our agenda. But also I would say a number of principles and positions that we will have to develop. What is the motto of the multilateral system, how is the UN going to play an effective role, what are the principles of this role on which we are going to have a basis for keeping the world peace. And EU is definitely committed to both multirateralism and the UN, and in many ways it is our nature as an Organization yet we need to see how we turn this into a strength and not a deadlock. Secondly, we need to strengthen our Common Foreign and Security Policy and our ESDP Security and Defence Policy in order to contribute to world peace and stability. But also to develop our own strategies on issues such us weapons of mass destruction. Thirdly to develop regional approaches to crises such as the one in Iraq, in the Middle East, the Palestinian issue which are in many ways linked with the inter-perceptions of the Arab and Muslim world and this brings me to the very important need to establishing a systematic dialogue of cultures between the EU and the Arab and Muslim world, helping them develop participating societies, respecting their traditions but also working together on issues such as women’s role, migration and terrorism.

Finally, we are reshaping the transatlantic relations and there in no denying that the EU –US relationship has been severely tested lately. The war in Iraq demonstrated that our longstanding transatlantic community can no longer be taken for granted. There are differences in approach between the EU and the US, especially on issues of defence and security. But our differences are not the defining aspect of our relations. And this, I think is a challenge. The ties that bind Europe and the US are historic; they are deep; and they are broad. The EU and US share common values, a common culture, and a common commitment to democracy. We must now ensure that the transatlantic partnership is reshaped and adapted to the current global reality.

In many ways, Europe has depended for its own security and also its own social security, which has been brought about, to a large extent, by the military security guarantees of the United States, over the many previous decades. When it comes to willingness to project force, or at least have the credible threat of force to back our diplomacy, the United States has been left with some of the tough choices. But we must not allow the tendency by some quarters in the US to underestimate the EU. Because, I do not agree with Robert Kagan that our Europe is a Kantian Utopia, borne aloft above a Hobbesian wilderness by the American giant. For one, ours is not a Hobbesian world amenable above all to coercion. A great majority of countries in the United Nations believe in and obey the rule of law. It is through principled action legitimised by international law that the EU seeks to enlarge the zones of peace around the world.

We might not be as strong as we could and should be in terms of our defence capabilities, but in other areas – in our economic, political, and diplomatic strength – we are just as powerful as the US. For example on the issues of many economic and financial issues whether we talk about mergers of companies or GMOs and the environment. We do have a dialogue. We also have a unique experience of conflict resolution. We have gone through many conflicts, very difficult ones – World Wars, ethnic –cleansings. We have had terrorism on our continent. But we have also learnt from this past experience, of old Europe if you like, and we have created a new Europe out of this experience. And conflict resolution, prevention, and democracy-building in southeastern Europe has been a very much important example. And this example can be used and applied elsewhere. Our tools can be used and applied elsewhere. Not in a missionary sense, or any colonial sense, but in a sense of learning and a dialogue. And the EU could be caracterised as the mediator power in today’s world.

I strongly believe that both the EU and US need each other in equal measure. Cooperation in all possible fields is certainly preferable to the notion prevalent in some US circles that there should be a division of responsibilities, depending on specific issues and geographical spheres of influence. Without European experience, American military might will not be effective in maintaining security and building lasting peace. And certainly we at the same time we are talking about a multilateral system, we need to have the US respecting it and be part of it.

Furthermore, we must not allow the narrow ideology espoused by a minority in the US that ‘you are either with us or against us’ to prevail. Lasting alliances are not based on one party blindly subordinating itself to the will of the other. Instead, we must develop a frank transatlantic dialogue, based on mutual respect and a systematic exploration of where our joint action can best help. And If you like, we can say that the US has chosen to fight the war against terrorism, in Afghanistan rather, because Iraq was not directly involved with terrorism. But in any account, it is understandable that they may have this priority particularly and I think we all have this priority after 11 September. But this war against terrorism cannot and should not exhaust the wars we still have to fight: the war against diseases, whether it is AIDS or recently SARS, the war on poverty, the war on illegal trafficking drugs, people, organs, the war against the degradation of environment and sustainable development. And this war needs to be fought globally.

Europe’s goal, I believe, must be to participate on an equal footing with our North American partners. And in the coming months we will have very important discussions, such as on the Middle East and Doha, and also on the core of our transatlantic relationship.

4. Why Europe Needs a Stronger ESDP

All these separate issues beg the question: Why should the EU seek more of a significant role on the international stage? Don’t we have enough to contend with, in simply managing the institutional challenges of enlargement and addressing internal problems?

Our own citizens are by no means immune to global events. Within the European Union, we are so interwoven – positively interdependent – that most of our citizens benefit enormously. They derive wealth; they derive social welfare; they derive a sense of security in the knowledge that we, at least, will never go to war with each other. And we want to bring this concept to a wider Europe, Southeastern Europe and further. But have we done enough to protect our citizens from the external threat to our collective interdependence? In a world of irresponsible states, deep global inequalities, fanaticism, terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, European values, norms and structures may not be completely sufficient to protect us from new security threats beyond our frontiers.

So what is to be done? It is painfully clear from recent experience that we are in urgent need of a ‘European strategic concept’. It is no longer enough for us to simply react to international events and crises – we need to pool our ideas and resources to develop a clear sense of direction about how we plan to address them. We must assess and agree on the threats that exist, assess our capabilities, draw up an appropriate policy in order to deal with them effectively. This means we must ask ourselves some challenging questions. For instance, if our efforts at peaceful enforcement of non-proliferation do not work, are we prepared to establish a doctrine for the use of force? And are we prepared to promote the reform of the United Nations to encompass specific prescriptions for the use of force? Would this stance not be consistent with our commitment to multilateralism? But also how we can promote alternatives, how we can use our experience in a useful way, in using our tools in order to prevent reaching the brink of war, in solving problems without having to use force. And here, the EU with its experience can develop a very important, positive strategy in foreign policy and security.

The time has come to draw up a concrete action plan and in Kastellorizo, two days ago, we decided to pass it to our High Representative Javier Solana to work with his policy unit which represents and has members from all member states, so that he comes up with a paper, a report on the European strategic concept, a European security concept. And we will be discussing this in Thessaloniki in June.

A second point is what are our capabilities and here you may have seen that a recent, important mini-defence summit by France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg created some controversy. But it also highlighted the need for us to move forward and so long as they remain open to the rest of the Union, and this initiative continues to be part and parcel of the EU decision-making process, this is a healthy democratic process to have people taking initiatives.

A third point, I believe, for our foreign policy is a need to respect and to capitalize on our different experiences, our different capabilities, our different histories.

5. The European Model: Strength in Diversity

First of all, one of the important lessons we learned is the need to have a "European reflex", which leads to an automatic consultation when we have problems or crises where we don’t just simply come out with unilateral statements from member states. And this may be helped by institutions such as the new Foreign Minister which is being proposed. But there are no panacea, institutions on their own. But they can be used to harness the creativity, the divergence, the diversity if you like that we also have within our EU.

Divergence is not necessarily about confrontation: it is also about organising our complementarities; encouraging member states to ‘lend their credibility’ on particular issues or in particular areas of the world to the rest of the Union. The EU’s diversity has been one of the key resources of our credibility and one of our successes since its inception. European strength lies in the comparative advantages (geopolitical, cultural, historical, linguistic, and philosophical) that each of our members brings to the table. And now, at 25 this strength increases.This has implications both for foreign policy and also for the need to be flexible in developing for example coalitions of the willing.

But let’s take a few examples. Spain and Portugal have their special links with Latin America, the UK with the US, Belgium with Africa, Greece with the Balkans or the Mediterranean. And I would say that the UK would be the one member that will want to see - more than anyone else -a very strong EU. Because if we are talking about a transatlantic relationship, we need a bridge with two strong pillars. Otherwise you have to choose sides, or you fall right in the middle. Otherwise you do have a strong bridge with two pillars and make sure there are channels of communication. Therefore you have not only a good friend but you also have an important and useful friend. So I think, complementarity can be very important in developing our future foreign policy.

In many ways, this brings us also to a dimension of what Europe as a whole may be. We have a question of our identity. Europe as a whole certainly after seeing its own identity as the sum of all its linguistic, religious and other affiliations. Creating a new Europe, means creating a new concept of identity for Europe itself, for all the countries in it and to a certain extent for the world too. Europe has a unique dimension here. What is happening in this globalizing world. We are seeing the difficulties of integration into the world system, into a global village.We are seeing a difficulty in creating global governance. We are asking the questions what are the values on which global governance can develop. What about common values? How do we govern democratically, in a participative way this global village. And Europe in many ways has a model which is very important.It is a model of integration of different cultures, it is a model of regional –global governance .It is a model of different cultures being able democratically to live together. But as we exploit our diversity , we also need to integrate our policies and this is also very important, as our policies in economy are integrated, our foreign policies need to be integrated. Let me take an example from my own personal experience. I believe that the level of international influence of the EU can only be achieved if national political systems come to realize the benefits from the Europeanization of national foreign policy interests. We have used this concept in dealing with our region. Seeing our bilateral relations with former historical enemies as we have called them, seeing how we have put these problems into a European context and how we have changed the framework in order to approach the problems in a very different way. But also creating a common vision. This is how we have dealt with Turkey, this is how we have dealt with the developments in Cyprus. Creating a new reality of the region. I can think of no better example than the positive influence of the EU membership on Cyprus.

6. Cyprus - The EU as a Catalyst for Peaceful Change

I can think of no better example of the positive influence that EU membership can exert on long-standing regional disputes than the astonishing and moving events in Cyprus in recent weeks. Already, within days of Cyprus’ official accession to the Union, misguided stereotypes about the Greek and Turkish communities being unable to live together in peace, have started to collapse along with the Green Line.

While nobody could have predicted this dramatic response from Cypriot civilians, entry into the European Union undoubtedly created the catalyst for reconciliation – an opportunity seized by tens of thousands of Greek and Turkish Cypriots who had been forced apart for almost thirty years. Their emotional reactions as they returned to their respective houses, or regions, or villages – a mixture of joy and sorrow, curiosity, solidarity, and relief - has been the true litmus test to this policy of Europeanising our foreign policy priorities. Let me give you just one example : When one Greek Cypriot woman arrived at her former home in the occupied North, the Turkish Cypriot woman who lived there rushed inside and re-emerged with a carefully wrapped package. It contained the Greek Cypriot woman’s wedding dress, which she had kept in case its owner should ever return. This symbolic gesture sums up the overwhelming desire of the Cypriot population to be reunited.

But of course the solution is not there yet. We still have the need for political will from all sides to use the Kofi Anan plan and re-unite Cyprus.

7. Democracy as the Cornestone of our Community of Values

Please allow me to focus now on the major challenge we are facing as we attempt to draft a Constitutional Treaty for the E.U.: we must be always mindful that this is not simply a treaty between states, but a new contract between our peoples.

Will the Constitution respond to the expectations of European citizens?

As made clear by the Laeken declaration, the Convention on the Future of Europe was born out of the very need to improve the democratic functioning of EU institutions, at this historical juncture when Europe is to be re-united. The European Community was created on the premise of democracy.

In sum, a new Constitutional treaty that reflects the democratic imperative must design a clear and accountable representative system, understandable to all our citizens, without necessarily reproducing national models. It must also invent new modes of deliberative and participatory democracy, with the use of the new technology, appropriate to the EU level of governance, perhaps more radical and innovative than what we know in our domestic spheres. The Convention already introduces a host of important new democratic guarantees in terms of transparency, consultation and participation. We need to go even further in this direction.

Ultimately, we cannot discuss democracy in Europe without asking "who should represent and act on behalf of Europeans" – that is, how should the EU’s institutional architecture be reformed?

Most fundamentally, we need to start from the presumption that European integration is a process. Delegates in the convention should not presume that they are called upon to define the finalite politique of our Union. Indeed, our Union is not and should not be understood as a federal state in the making. At the same time, it is not simply a confederation. The most precious and original feature of the Union is its character as a pluralist, transnational federal union, a union of nation-states and a union of peoples. When it functions properly, the Community strengthens the States, and the States strengthen the Community - it is a win-win situation of mutually reinforcing engagement. The Constitutional Treaty needs to convey this philosophy better in setting out the crucial issue of competences, the division of power between the member states and the Union.

First and foremost, we need to preserve the fundamental equality between states and institutional balance of power which has long guaranteed the ‘community method’ of integration and its mix of hard nosed bargaining between government and the shaping and moulding of common interests by the Commission.

Second, to preserve the inherent to the Union’s system balances between small, medium-size and big states. This is actually not a frequent state of affairs in the EU since on all substantive issues, this is not the relevant divide. But when it comes to institutions, small and medium size member states as well as our new members, are wary about some of the proposals that have been emerging, in particular the proposal to create a permanent head of the European Council to replace the current rotating presidency. Those who defend this position usually point out the fact with Iraq and say that we need consistency, permanency, credibility, someone who can speak at the same level, equal to the Prime ministers and the Presidents of the member states. Someone who will keep us on track and not change agendas every six months. My theory is that as with the permanent foreign minister, this new position will not necessarily reflect the collective will.It could become an obscure beaucratic position which would be denied much of legitimacy and to whom many pressures could be applied from different directions. If we really want a position of an elected President, I believe, that if we abandon rotation for an elected President we should then opt for a directly elected President. This could bring the EU as a whole closer to the citizens, creating really a President with the necessary democratic legitimacy and enable a new stable balance between the EU institutions.

There are many areas of our constitutional debate that I could refer to. Let me pick three that are particularly close to my heart. :

  • 1) Social inclusion
  • 2) The status of third country residents in the European Union

And here the Athens Declaration is very, very important on a controversial issue, on migration .We have declared in Athens that the values we cherish are not reserved for our own nationals but apply to all those who submit to the laws of our lands.

  • 3) Our new neighbourhood

Europe’s new borders must not become new dividing lines on our continent, but instead should create new bridges of cooperation, development and security between nations and regions. And as we have created community values, we would like these values to be shared, peace and prosperity and democracy to be shared for our region.This is becoming more important after the Iraqi war in areas such as the Mediterranean

8. An Exercise in Defining European Citizenship

Writing a European Constitution can be described as an exercise in exploring the frontiers of European citizenship.

I believe that European citizenship is about belonging to a community of values. According to the ancient Greek philosopher Isocrates, he said, being a Hellene, is partaking in Greek culture . In many ways, being a European, is partaking of this community of values.

While our member states today all rest on strong democratic foundations, in particular that of elective democracy, it may be possible for the EU to invent or promote new forms of democracy. And we have had one, in experimental form.It is the is e-Vote, an innovative electronic voting project accessible through the Greek Presidency website (www.eu2003.gr). Already, roughly 150.000 people from across Europe have participated in online votes on topical issues such as enlargement, immigration, and the EU’s role in the world.

E-Vote is a unique experiment in that citizens are not simply invited to respond to fixed questions, but are encouraged to submit their own suggestions as to what issues should be given priority and how they should be tackled. By actively soliciting public opinion, e-Vote is an important step towards bridging the gap between European leaders and their constituents, European institutions and citizens, but also between nations and regions. In this way, e-Vote has created a new European forum, a virtual ‘Agora’ where people can express their views on issues that will affect their collective future..

We hope to extend this experiment in e-democracy for the EU beyond our Presidency, with ongoing projects that could include:

• The systematic use of the internet to make transparent decision processes;

• The organisation of e-referenda;

• The possibility of transforming the Convention website into a "virtual agora".

In the short term, we intend to encourage a wider public debate on the Convention proposals, by hosting a real ‘Agora’ or open forum in Athens, following the presentation of the convention results to the Council by Valery Giscard d’Estaing.

Hoping to see you there, I would like to thank you for your attention.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).