EU Manages Common Position on Iraq

The 15 Member States of the European Union produced a common statement after their extra-ordinary summit in Brussels yesterday which is similar in position to the line being followed by the Russian Federation, namely that any action to be taken by the international community on Iraq must fall within the auspices of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The European Union highlighted the need to make a public statement which represented the opinion of all fifteen member states, after weeks of wrangling between the “hawks”, led by Blair (UK), Aznar (Spain) and Berlusconi (Italy) and the “doves”, Chirac and Schroeder (France and Germany) with the others falling in between.

A good example of “the others” is Portugal’s Prime Minister, Jose Barroso, who started by unilaterally signing the now infamous “Letter of Eight” supporting the American position, but then after realising that the main stream of public opinion in Portugal did not agree with him, changed tune and began highlighting the need to use the UNSC.

It is this position which is now followed by the fifteen, unanimously for a change. The common statement underlines the importance of the UNSC as the proper forum for debate in a multi-lateral world, based upon egalitarian principles, rather than domination by one all-powerful state. There is also a parallel drawn in the final statement between the situation in Iraq and in Israel, since both questions are crucial for stability in the Middle East.

Finally, the statement made an appeal to President Saddam Hussein to disarm and to thereby create a scenario for lasting peace in the region.