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The EU's Birthday and Party Hostess Merkel

Rosemary Righter The Times "Now you're grown up, make friends with America." (HT: Don)

Radio Free Mike took a picture at the EU Council and comments that he "
can’t think of a better parody of the EU."

IHT: "Merkel wins praise from EU partners." And Frederick Kempe, president of the Atlantic Council, adds some more admiration in his Bloomberg column:
Don't miss the most significant story in the noise around this weekend's 50th birthday bash for the European Union in Berlin. Party hostess German Chancellor Angela Merkel has emerged as the West's most influential and promising leader in her second year in office, due to deeply held principles, good timing and no competition.
The Economist got it right: "Germany's chancellor shines more brightly abroad than at home."

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Global American Discourse on : New Year Question 1: Open NATO and Closed EU

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As if celebrating New Year, Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union on January 1. Further eastward expansion of the EU is a vital agenda for security of Europe in the post-Cold War era. But I have to mention one nation, which has been on the waiting list for decades. That is Turkey. The issue of Turkish membership symbolizes closed nature of the EU and open nature of NATO. Why one is so accommodating, while the other is so exclusive?

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Zyme on :

Merkel isn´t the only chancellor shining more brightly abroad than at home - think of Kohl for example ;) I hadn´t expected that Merkel is this creative. In a club of 27 nations, how do you find an agreement? Well they found a way, e-mailing the smaller nations the declaration that was signed the following day in their names certainly does help in finding an agreement :) Especially the Czechians protested, but hey, they are mereley 10 millions of almost 500 million people in the Union. If this procedure becomes the standard, the whole thing might be stimuluated again!

Pat Patterson on :

Was The Economist describing Chancellor Merkel or President Nixon?

Bill on :

Although I have more respect for German Chancellor Angela Merkel than for her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder, not everyone within the EU is so delighted with her leadership as some journalists and pundits would have you think. Germany's Der Spiegel magazine ran at least two very critical articles re: the EU 50th anniversary celebrations in Berlin and Britain's The Independent newspaper ran a series of op-eds criticizing not only Germany's present leadership of the EU but that of all 27 EU leaders. The Independent's articles drew an immediate response from some EU leaders and total silence from the rest of the gang. Here is an excerpt from The Independent: Darfur: Europe's leaders respond to demands for action to stop the genocide, by Stephen Castle, Berlin 26 March 2007 Europe's leaders toughened their stand against mass murder in Darfur yesterday, issuing new threats against the Sudanese government, as their own 50th birthday celebration summit was thrown off balance by the unprecedented appeal from Europe's leading writers for action. Darfur forced its way on to the meeting's agenda after a coalition of European writers and intellectuals spoilt the self-congratulatory party with a devastating critique of the bloc's failure to act to end the violence in the Sudanese province. Today, about 2.5 million people are displaced and more than 200,000 civilians are dead as a result of government-sponsored violence. Despite the scale of murder since the conflict began in 2003 - the US has described it as genocide - there has been no attempt to launch the kind of humanitarian intervention that saved civilian lives in Kosovo. In a letter to the 27 leaders of EU states, published by The Independent, 10 of the continent's leading writers and thinkers recalled the atrocities of Auschwitz and Srebrenica in their call for immediate action against the Sudanese regime and President Omar al-Bashir. The signatories included Tom Stoppard, Seamus Heaney, Harold Pinter, Dario Fo, Günter Grass, Umberto Eco, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Franca Rame and Václav Havel. The intervention had an immediate effect on Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, which holds the EU presidency, who called on fellow leaders to consider stricter sanctions against the government in Khartoum. She said the EU wanted President Bashir to allow UN peacekeepers into the country and comply with UN resolutions. "We think of the people in Zimbabwe and Darfur. The suffering there is unbearable, We must look at stronger sanctions" she said Tony Blair, who sent a letter to Ms Merkel pressing for talks on the issue, demanded renewed efforts at the United Nations to put in place a no-fly zone to prevent the Sudanese air force causing more loss of life. In Berlin, Mr Blair held a meeting with one of the victims of the violence, Ishag Mekki, whose sister was murdered in her own home. "Had you leaders acted earlier and intervened, today I would have my elder sister alive," Mr Mekki said. Yesterday's summit in Berlin was called to mark the EU's 50th birthday. The event involved a concert, a banquet and a formal lunch yesterday. The issue of Darfur had not been scheduled for debate, though Europe's leaders were due to discuss Europe's role in the world. In the end the plight of the province was raised over a lunch of crab with bacon and broiled beef with beetroot, red wine and onion sauce. Read more.... http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article2393302.ece Here is the link to Darfur: An Open Letter from some of Europe's leading intellectuals and literary figures March 24, 2007 http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/article2387820.ece The text of the letter from some of my favorite writers follows: On the fiftieth anniversary of the EU, a call to action Published: 24 March 2007 To the leaders of the 27 nations of the EU, How dare we Europeans celebrate this weekend while on a continent some few miles south of us the most defenceless, dispossessed and weak are murdered in Sudan? Has the European Union - born of atrocity to unite against further atrocity - no word to utter, no principle to act on, no action to take, in order to prevent these massacres in Darfur? Is the cowardliness over Srebrenica to be repeated? If so, what do we celebrate? The thin skin of our political join? The futile posturings of our political class? The impotent nullities of our bureaucracies? The Europe which allowed Auschwitz and failed in Bosnia must not tolerate the murder in Darfur. Europe is more than a network of the political classes, more than a first world economic club and a bureaucratic excrescence. It is an inherited culture which sustains our shared belief in the value and dignity of the human being. In the name of that common culture and those shared values, we call upon the 27 leaders to impose immediately the most stringent sanctions upon the leaders of the Sudanese regime. Forbid them our shores, our health service and our luxury goods. Freeze their assets in our banks and move immediately to involve other concerned countries. We must not once again betray our European civilization by watching and waiting while another civilization in Africa is destroyed. Let this action be our gift to ourselves and our proof of ourselves. And when it is done, then let us celebrate together with pride. Umberto Eco Dario Fo Günter Grass Jürgen Habermas Václav Havel Seamus Heaney Bernard Henri-Levy Harold Pinter Franca Rame Tom Stoppard

Zyme on :

@ Bill This was about the EU birthday and not about Darfur.. What do you expect Europe to do there? China is the most important partner of Sudan, so this is their playground. As long as China has the biggest influence in Sudan, they are also responsible for misdevelopments. In a way, the situation in Sudan strengthens the position of those european countries interested in the other countries in Africa, since Sudan shines as a deterring example of what results out of too much chinese influence. The more deterring Darfur becomes, the easier it is for Britain, France and Germany to fight chinese competition in the rest of Africa. This way, you can always point out to their elites "Do you want your country to look like this?" :) Just curious: Does anyone know other reasons for a passive european approach in that case? This might be helpful at understanding the current position.

Pat Patterson on :

I agree that the example the Chinese have made of themselves in Africa does make them look bad. Imagine how hard they had to work to end up as popular as Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Though I suspect that some of the things that the EU might not permit in its relations with Africa are precisely those things that China will have no compunction in supplying, ie. weapons, security "advice" and those wonderful blue overalls left over from China's aid to Africa in the 70's.

Bill on :

Sorry Zyme but time constraints prevent me from getting into this subject (again) any deeper. I just wanted to point out that some of Europe's leading intellectuals used the 50th anniversary of the founding of the EU to point out some serious shortcomings. I didn't piss on Angie's parade, they did. Anybody follow-up on the "Der Spiegel" angle on the birthday party? P.S. Darfur is a PR China problem???? You can't be serious. What about the Arab League and the African Union in re: to Sudan and Darfur? The way it looks, the whole ball of string (international trade relations vs. human rights) is coming undone rather nicely... and quickly. No major nation on the planet is willing to upset the present economic gravy train to and from the PRC... except perhaps Taiwan.

Bill on :

Ooops! Looks as if we have some more "unhappy EU campers" over at Foreign Policy magazine. Checkout the March 2007 issue for Alan Sked's article "Europe's 50th Anniversary Clown Show". Sked is a senior lecturer in international history at the London School of Economics. Here is the byline to the article: The European Union’s absurd birthday bash says more about where the EU is headed than 1,000 bland pronouncements from the bureaucrats and politicians in Brussels ever could. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3757&fpsrc=ealert070326 I didn't think the affair was that bad, was it?

Zyme on :

What do you mean by "the affair"? I agree that the EU does ressemble an imperial idea in quite a number of regards, but is that necessarily a bad thing? A continent like Europe with so many different peoples needs imperial ideas that bind it alltogether. It did so 2000 years ago in the roman age and it does even more so today. What happens when imperial ideas are broken up could be witnessed in former Yugoslawia. When 27 nations and nearly 500 million people are involved, you need a comittee of highly skilled bureaucrats instead of appealing politicians to govern this empire. Bureaucrats don´t have to waste their time in dealing with re-elections and can thus concentrate on the real work that needs to be done to keep everything together. This might frustrate the peoples of an anglo-saxon tradition (especially the Brits, including that Mr. Sked you cited), who want everything to be democratically legitimized. Especially on the continent though I believe there is something else that disillusions the people. It is not being governed mostly from Brussels - for most it doesn´t really matter whether they are governed from Brussels or from Paris, Berlin, Vienna and so on. Something else is missing: An appropriate leadership. For an empire like the European Union you need a European President who has the power of settling disagreements among the member states or completely overruling them. And this brings me to the point where the disillusionment of the newer members in the east of Europe might come from: While the central european states mostly want a strong unification with a strong leadership (and partially even a common army), the eastern european peoples fear becoming irrelevant in such a system, in which naturally the biggest peoples (french, british and german) would dominate. The current disagreement about the future direction of the Union can thus be seen as a struggle for power by the various factions. Every faction has different interests. Since a break-up would have disastrous effects on everyone, one stance eventually will prevail.

Don S on :

I'm not sure I get why so many people are being so dog-in-the-manger about the EU birthday party. There are things I decidedly dislike about the EU, but the only fundamental problem I think is a lack of democracy and insulation from the pupular will. Even that can be a good thing in some situations - but the current incarnation of the EU takes it too far. Nonetheless let's not lose sight of the good things about the EU. It does bind Europe together. The common regulation of things like safety standards is definately a major good thing. And the EU (or the EU movement) can take half the credit for keeping the peace in a previously incredibly warlike continent for more than 50 years. The other half of the credit for keeping Europe at peace belinegs of course to the US and the NATO alliance. This points up a major defect of many in the EU - historical myopia. They don't see the critical role the US played and plays in the EU's success. Probably because they don't want to. I think this puts NATO in deep peril. But even if NATO more or less collapsed this should not put the EU in peril if it's leadership behaves with as much intelligence as God gave a sheep dog. Sometimes that seems in some doubt but I'm convinced the EU will muddle through in the end, with the US or without.

Bill on :

That's what I like about Don, he's so level headed about these things. What's a "dog in a manger"?

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