“A sensible, modern attitude to Europe is what we need”, says Blair The main reason why British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met five times in nine months is because they have a lot in common and are eager to set about solving their counties’ problems in a context of collaboration, increased trading links and shared knowledge. The recent visit of Mr. Blair to Moscow, this week, was part of Britain’s new strategy to adopt a more realistic approach towards Europe in general and Russia in particular, after years of hiding behind the Cold War curtain. “A sensible, modern attitude to Europe is what we need”. The problem is to convince the British people, who still classify all the countries across the English Channel “the Continent” and the people, from the Atlantic to the Urals, are called “Continentals”. Strange habits, such as people kissing when they meet or showing emotion in public are scorned as “Continental behavior”. The British press rarely prints a story about the European Union which does not emphasize the more ridiculous directives made in Brussels. An incredible 83% expressed themselves against the Euro, the Single Currency, according to a recent opinion poll. The main opposition party, the Tory Party, is venomous in its opposition to any British policy which is minimally integrationist. When Tony Blair arrived from Moscow, he flew into the middle of a storm over Britain’s decision to send 12,500 troops for a European Rapid Reaction Force. The previous Tory leader, Margaret Thatcher, now Lady Thatcher, accused the Prime Minister of “vanity and folly”, stating that “ I prefer NATO and I prefer the great alliance between Britain, Europe and America…We lost a lot of people on the Continent defending the liberty of our country and the countries of others and we must never forget” a reference to the Great Patriotic War (Second World War). Rarely can a German person or a German car pass in a British street without there being a mention of war, or Hitler-style salutes once the person or car has passed. If a former leader like Mrs. Thatcher can make statements like that, it is not surprising to find the same phenomenon among the population. We are fortunate that she never declared war on Germany in her eleven years as Prime Minister…it was Argentina instead! This is why Mr. Blair cultivates the friendship with Moscow. Russia is now better understood and is treated with growing warmth and a sense of real trust. Mr. Blair realises that the British people do not feel hostility to Eastern Europe and maybe it is this approach that will bring the British people out of their shell and make Europeans out of them, even if they can never become Continentals.
Pravda.Ru Correspondent London
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