تختبر قوة الوحدة الأوروبية
أنجلوس تايمز - 29/3/2007
اذا كانت دول الاتحاد الأوروبي
لن تقدم المساعدة لبريطانيا في
مشكلة البحارة, فما هو الشئ
الجيد في الاتحاد الأوروبي؟
Iran tests EU unity
Europeans won't come to the aid of the kidnapped British
sailors, what good is the European Union?
Timothy Garton Ash, TIMOTHY GARTON ASH, a contributing
editor to Opinion, is professor of European studies at
Oxford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover
Institution at Stanford University.
WEEK, while the European Union celebrated 50 years of
peace, freedom and solidarity, 15 Europeans were
kidnapped from Iraqi waters by the Iranian Revolutionary
Guard. As I write, those 14 European men and one
European woman have been held at an undisclosed location
for nearly a week, interrogated, denied consular access
but shown on Iranian television, with one of them making
a staged "confession." So if Europe is as it
claims to be, what's it going to do about it? Where's
the solidarity? Where's the action?
to describe the crisis in these terms is to see how far
we are from the Europe of instinctive solidarity that
European leaders like to believe we have — and
especially when it comes to armed forces abroad. Most
Brits do not think of the captured sailors and marines
as Europeans. They will look for more decisive action
from the British government and then perhaps from the
United States or the United Nations. It would not occur
to them to look across the Channel for support, and they
would be surprised to learn that Europe has more direct,
immediate leverage on Iran than the U.S. does.
continental Europeans, if they have registered that
there is a crisis at all — and many will not have,
because Europe's media are still mainly national in form
and priorities — will probably think of it as yet
another consequence of a foolish, illegitimate
Anglo-American military action in Iraq. They will see it
as a problem for "them" (Britons and
Americans) rather than for "us"
(right-thinking, peace-loving Europeans).
who follow these things more closely may wonder if the
Revolutionary Guard was not making an indirect
tit-for-tat response to U.S. seizures of Iranians in
Iraq, perhaps hoping for a hostage swap. Or perhaps it's
an angry reaction to the U.N. Security Council
resolution extending sanctions against Iran over its
nuclear program, which was passed a day after the
kidnapping (its contents were well known beforehand).
But I bet my bottom euro that none of these continental
Europeans' synapses will have fired spontaneously with
this thought: "Our fellow Europeans have been
kidnapped, so what can we, as Europe, do in response?"
if you regard the Anglo-American presence in Iraq as
foolish and illegitimate, and the American seizure of
Iranians in Iraq as an escalation of this folly, that
would not excuse the Iranian action. The British troops
were operating as part of a multinational force under
U.N. mandate to protect oil installations and prevent
the smuggling of guns into Iraq. According to GPS
instruments that the British personnel had with them,
they were nearly two miles inside Iraqi territorial
waters when they went to search a suspect vessel. In
fact, the first coordinates for the allegedly
transgressing British boats given to the British on
Sunday by the Iranian government turned out to be within
Iraqi territorial waters too. Not until Tuesday did the
Iranians come up with a "corrected" set of
coordinates that conveniently put the British forces on
the wrong side of the line.
BRITISH government initially tried to secure the
captives' release by what Foreign Secretary Margaret
Beckett described as "private but robust
diplomacy," while also aiming to bring indirect
pressure to bear on the Iranian government. Among the
protests was a statement of condemnation from the
presidency of the EU — currently held by Germany —
conveyed to the Iranian government.
us hope that, by the time you read this, all the British
captives are free. If they are not — and in any case,
for a possible next time — we need to think about next
steps. Although Javier Solana, the nearest thing the EU
has to a foreign minister, did raise the issue with
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, it's a bad idea to link
the reopening of nuclear talks to the kidnapping issue.
Iranian hard-liners would be delighted to scupper those
talks. Why walk into their trap?
there is something Europe should do: flex its economic
muscles. The EU is by far Iran's biggest trading partner
— more than 40% of Iran's imports and more than a
quarter of its exports are with the EU. Remarkably, this
trade has grown strongly in the last years of looming
crisis. Much of it is underpinned by export credit
guarantees given by European governments, notably those
of Germany, France and Italy. According to the most
recent figures available from the German economics
ministry, Iran is Germany's third-largest beneficiary of
export credit guarantees, outdone only by Russia and
China. Iran comes second to none in terms of the
proportion of German exports — up to 65% —
underwritten by the German government. As the squeeze
grows on Iran from U.N. sanctions, and as Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fails to deliver on his
populist economic promises, this European trade becomes
ever more vital for the Iranian regime.
the House of Commons earlier this week, a former foreign
secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, asked if Britain's
European friends, and Germany, France and Italy in
particular, might be prevailed on to convey to Iran,
perhaps privately in the first instance, the possibility
that such export credit guarantees would be temporarily
suspended until the kidnapped Europeans are freed. I
gather that if such private pressure is not forthcoming,
Britain might be tempted to raise the suggestion more
formally at a meeting of European foreign ministers in
Bremen this weekend.
here's a challenge for the German presidency of the EU.
Will you put your money where your mouth is? Or are all
your Sunday speeches about European solidarity in the
cause of peace and freedom not even worth the paper they
are written on?
لهذه المقالات لا يعني أنها
تعبر عن وجهة نظر المركز كلياً
من حق الزائر الكريم أن ينقل وأن ينشر كل ما يعجبه من موقعنا . معزواً إلينا ، أو غير معزو .ـ