The White House once again showed who is master. Some EU countries’ attempts to have their own position on the anti-terrorist fight were resolutely rejected. The Bush administration, armed with the principle “Who is not with us, is against us,” "convinced" its European opponents of its rightfulness. According to RIA ‘Novosti’, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Pike said, while appearing in the Spanish parliament, said that European Union was pressed upon by the US and compromised on the question of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. He recalled that at the latest meeting of EU foreign ministers in Kaseres on February 9, it had been decided to support Yassir Arafat as a legal official of Palestinian people. The ministers also agreed about supporting the idea of the creation of a Palestinian state. However, according to Pike, “some countries are very sensitive to as US criticism of Europe’s position in the Middle East,” because the plan on the Middle East earlier approved by EU was declined.
However, it would not be correct to talk about the European Union’s unity regarding Middle East issue. At least French and Spanish representatives offered different plans for the settlement. The French plan proposed to declare a Palestinian independent state as the first step and, afterwards, carry out negotiations about the peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. However, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Pike proposed first to stop the violence and, therefore, to establish an atmosphere of confidence between the sides. Needless to say, both plans were rejected. Great Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands, inspired by the US, were against the French plan. Great Britain’s position could be understood, as it is the most reliable ally of the US in Europe. However, the position of Germany, which recently criticized the US, is hard to explain. The question is probably that Germany is very suspicious as of the French and Spanish initiatives, being afraid of loosing its influence upon European and world policy. All the more, on the threshold of the election, the chancellor is more concerned with the internal problems. According to the Spanish foreign minister, as a result of US pressure, the European Union refused to oppose US plans to attack Iraq and actively demand not to admit its observers to Bahdad. However, it does not matter. Washington will launch its operation against Iraq when it considers it to be necessary. The question is only the form of the operation: it could be a military incursion into the country or supporting the opposition. The second variant, which seemed to work well in Afghanistan, is more likely. However, on February 17, Secretary of State Colin Powell, while giving an interview to CNN, denied the European politicians’ accusations regarding US actions against the “axis of evil.”
The world community’s negative reaction to Bush’s speech in to Congress made Washington more selective regarding “rogue nations.” For example, Bush himself and Powell talked about a possible dialogue with North Korea. However, they say nothing about such dialogue with Iraq. The US has for too long presented Saddam as a demonic enemy. As a result, Russia is almost the only state opposing the military operation against Iraq. However, Moscow’s position will hardly be taken into account. Now, Washington, having enlisted the support of European Union, actively prepares itself for an attack on Iraq, which will be launched in the nearest future.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/02/21/37394.html
Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to go to the 77th UN General Assembly in September