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The split in regards to Iraq, amongst EU members and more so between applicant members and existing members, is becoming increasingly obvious and problematic. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dubbed the terms ‘old Europe’ and ‘new Europe’ earlier this year to refer to the two sides that European countries have taken on the issue of inspections and war in Iraq. The ‘old Europe’ consists largely of France and Germany, who are against any military action. The ‘new Europe’, consists largely of EU applicant countries from the east, and has been more supportive of the U.S. position.
The animosity began with France and Germany dominating the issue and portraying the appearance that their position was Europe’s position. By mid January, an open letter of support for the U.S. position on Iraq consisting of eight countries (Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, and EU candidates Denmark, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland) was released. In early February, another letter of support was released consisting of 10 eastern European nations (Albania, Croatia and Macedonia, and EU candidates Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia).
On February 17, the EU held an emergency meeting, excluding any applicant countries, to try to come to some sort of unified position. French President Jacques Chirac took this opportunity to scold the applicant countries by inferring that their position may affect the ratification of their EU membership applications, and commented, “It is not well-brought-up behaviour. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet”.
Once again, the almost desperate need for a strong, unifying leader is making itself clear. Interestingly, it is the French President, and not the German Chancellor, that scolds the eastern ‘children’. That of course, would appear right now to be ‘out of line’. The overall lesson that Europe is learning right now is the need for unity. This is especially difficult but most important in the area of ‘foreign affairs’.
Europe is trying desperately to act and behave as one nation, but in this one area they continue to struggle and stumble.
But not for much longer…
Source: BBC News