International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

May 2, 2003

May 2, 2003





**  Skeptics demanded "concrete decisions" on Euro defense, not "nice statements."


**  Strong "European pillar" would be good for NATO--but is that what the "Gang of Four" want?


**  A common European defense policy without the UK is "unthinkable."




Enhancing Euro defense efforts is an 'ambitious' idea, but skepticism is widespread--  The mini-summit of France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg identified tasks that are "increasingly seen as necessary if the EU is to play a credible and effective regional and international role."  Commentators in France, Germany, Ireland and Spain held that Europe "now seems to understand the significance of the military dimension" after the "bitter lesson" of its "self-inflicted political impotence" in the Iraq crisis.  Skeptics, however, like Germany's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung, saw "nothing but a...continuation of the things the EU leaders have proclaimed again and again."  Papers pointed out that the four leaders "did not specify any precise objective," with Austria's Die Presse adding, "The noble goals of the Brussels Four are not made any more plausible by the fact that three of its members are among those European states that spend the least money on military purposes."


A 'more credible' European pillar would be a plus for NATO--but was that the summit's aim?--  Writers contended that "everybody agrees" that Europe should "strengthen its defense identity" and noted that the U.S. repeatedly has called on Europe to "make credible military contributions to defending common values."  Strengthening the "European pillar" would be "a gain for the Alliance," dailies stated.  France's right-of-center Le Figaro maintained the summit was not anti-U.S. but that Europeans were looking for a balanced "partnership" with the American superpower.  Despite pledges of loyalty to NATO by the "Gang of Four," outlets questioned the summit's "timing" and debated whether the Four meant to strengthen the Alliance or take a "wrecking ball" to it.  Britain's conservative Times decried the summit's concept of a Euro joint operations headquarters separate from NATO as "dangerous."


British participation is 'absolutely vital' to any common EU defense policy--  French editorialists admitted "the jury is still out" whether Chirac's "multipolar" vision of a European counterweight to U.S. power will triumph over Blair's "unipolar world...with the U.S. and Europe on the same side."  Even so, they concurred with the widely held view that "there cannot be a European defense without the British [and] therefore a close partnership with the U.S."  With London directing "the strongest, most professional and most experienced" armed forces in Europe, as Portugal's moderate-left Publico put it, there can be "no European defense worthy of the name" without the UK.  A Dutch outlet called for French and British leaders to return "to the spirit of St. Malo" to lay the foundation of European defense "in coordination with, and not in competition with, the Americans."

EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 35 reports from 17 countries, April 29 - May 2, 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Toy Soldiers"


The conservative Times editorialized (4/30):  "The mini-summit held between the leaders of France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg yesterday must count as either one of the most intellectually confused or instead politically dishonest meetings conducted by EU nations....  Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder sought to minimise the significance of what had been proposed.  Meanwhile, Guy Verhofstadt, the Prime Minister of Belgium and their host, spoke somewhat more candidly of their collective desire to 'relaunch' European defence....  Much of what was outlined has, it should be observed, been suggested elsewhere....  The 'gang of four', though, went yet further, announcing their intention to form a multinational, deployable force headquarters for their joint operations and declaring they would create 'a nucleus of a collective capability which they would make available to the EU for operational planning and command of EU-led operations' outside NATO....  That the concept will do nothing for European defence is indicated by its internal contradictions and damaging external consequences.  The plan offers no prospect of a serious increase in defence spending--indeed, at least one leader expressed the hope that co-ordination could allow for 'cutting costs'--but instead outlined a series of new bureaucracies.  It took all of Jacques Chirac’s capacity for contorted logic for him to praise the 'fundamental character' of the transatlantic alliance while aspiring to bury it in the form that it has been known for 54 years, and then move on to contend that a plan which involves planting duplicate bodies inside NATO would 'limit wasteful national duplication which exists at present'....  There will be a temptation, given the nature of the EU, for the several states who believe this is a profoundly bad idea to attempt to dilute it rather than pull the plug on it.  This would be mistaken....  It would be regarded in Washington and elsewhere, correctly, as the thin end of an extremely unwelcome wedge."


FRANCE:  "Blair Against Chirac"


Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (5/2):  “Tony Blair has just said publicly that he does not want a multipolar world, unlike Jacques Chirac, in which Europe would be a counterweight for the U.S....  He is for a unipolar world in which the U.S. and Europe would be on the same side....  Who between Tony Blair or Jacques Chirac has the best chance of gaining acceptance for his point of view?...  The jury is still out.  The ‘band of four’ will have a difficult time imposing its position for the simple reason that there cannot be a European defense without the British, therefore a close partnership with the U.S.  But to be partners there must also be a real interlocutor and on this point the unceremonious attitude of the Bush administration is not a good sign.”


"Stop The Verbal Warfare Between London And Paris"


Jacques Amalric commented in left-of-center Liberation (5/2):  “It was obviously less than wise to hold this mini-summit in Brussels...intended to define a European defense with only Belgium, Germany and Luxemburg.  It was poorly timed in that it looked like nothing more than a way to provoke London....  What is the point of this European power that continues to exist in limbo and is used as a sort of threat or scarecrow?  This only serves the neo-conservative, ultra-nationalist strategists in Washington who would like nothing more than to derail the plans for a strong Europe.”    


"Answering Tony Blair"


Jean de Belot commented in right-of-center Le Figaro (4/29):  “The British Prime Minister is quite clear: he does not want a Europe that rivals the U.S. …  After the fall of Saddam Hussein Tony Blair is taking advantage of his position to push forth his vision, particularly since his vision is well founded.  First, he is being realistic: in matters of defense Europe has put itself in the hands of the U.S.  Second, he is being true to British diplomacy:  London has always opposed a multipolar world and believes that the strength of the Western bloc lies in a ‘strategic partnership’ between Europe and the U.S.  We of course believe in the notion of partnership.  No one in Europe believes that our future could be based on a confrontation with the U.S.  But a partnership requires a certain balance.  What would be the bases of this partnership?  What is the ambition of each European capital?  The Iraqi crisis has created a situation that will force each nation to define its ambitions and aspirations....  Fifteen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall Europe’s results remain meager.  Europe has been incapable of launching any new project.  Europe is only an economic market, incapable of achieving real success.  Yet Europe has its own load of challenges, separate from those of the U.S.  This is why Tony Blair’s remarks come at the right time.  For all these reasons we need to give him an answer.  Even if it means breaking a few taboos.  Who really believes there can be a powerful twenty-five member Europe?”


"Europe’s Defense"


Jean-Christophe Ploquin held in Catholic La Croix (4/29):  “In France, those who support the idea of Europe’s construction are rudderless.  The Iraqi crisis has injected a massive dose of confusion in the minds of those who have campaigned for a political Europe that would stand apart from the U.S. …  Yesterday, Tony Blair was exceedingly clear: Europe must be built with the U.S., not against it....  France must adapt its European policy to the reality revealed by the Iraqi crisis.  Thierry de Montbrial of IFRI suggests that in the short term France must keep a low profile in order to safeguard a long-term project.  It is paradoxical to note that Europe’s defense may in fact develop in the years to come with the U.S., not against it. In this regard, Chirac’s attitude at the mini European summit is sure to be carefully scrutinized.”


GERMANY:  "European Defense Initiative"


Volker Herres judged in a commentary on ARD-TV's (national channel one) late evening newscast "Tagesthemen" (4/29):  “Following the bitter lesson of their self-inflicted political impotence in the Iraq conflict, Europe now seems to understand the significance of the military dimension.  It is high time to push a common European security policy.  This is the good thing of the initiative launched at the four-party summit in Brussels, even though one flaw continues to stick to them.  The four hardliners against the war remained alone in Brussels and are exposed to the suspicion of deepening Europe’s division with this summit that must be understood as anti-atlanticist.  But the European quartet did not succumb to this temptation. To strengthen Europe’s security policy role remains correct and important, even though the Europeans want to emancipate themselves as independent partners, not as U.S. rivals."


"Four-Party Summit"


Klaus-Dieter Frankenbergr contended in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (4/30):  "Schroeder, Chirac, Verhofstadt, and Juncker cannot have had the best feelings.  Too often they stressed their loyalty to the Atlantic Alliance.  And as if they stood under pressure to justify their move, they reaffirmed that they are mainly interested in strengthening the European pillar in NATO.  This is indeed the great handicap from which the Alliance is suffering.  The military imbalance is dramatic, and it is unhealthy for transatlantic relations.  Everything that is strengthening this pillar is a gain for the Alliance.  The question is whether the four worked in this respect or whether they were working with a wrecking ball.”


"Filled Chocolate, Badly Wrapped"


Cornelia Bolesch opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (4/30):  “If we ignore all the disagreements on the war in the Gulf, the text of the communiqué is nothing but a consistent continuation of the things the EU leaders have proclaimed again and again at EU summits....  Of course, this concept also includes a good deal of emancipation from the United States.  But it was U.S. governments who have called upon the Europeans to make a credible military contributions to defending common values and to stabilizing crisis regions.  That is why it is so sad that this minor tour de force war orchestrated so badly.”


 "The Strength Of The Four From Brussels"


Martin Winter noted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (4/30):  “In Europe, a new defense policy era is now beginning.  It does not develop with great pomp but as is usual in the EU, in a gentle and civilian manner in portions that can easily be swallowed by sensitive stomachs.  This could prompt people to assume falsely that old things were newly wrapped at the meeting of Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Germany.  But in Brussels, it was not a meeting of the coalition of tough opposition forces to the Iraq war in search for late justifications.  It was a meeting of a group of determined integrationists, who, under the impression of the U.S. treatment of the war and the United Nations, have understood that the often downgraded project of a European security and defense union must now quickly take shape.”


ITALY:  "Old Europe Begins To Move And Challenges Bush"


Andrea Bonanni provided this analysis from Brussels in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (4/30):  “The anti-NATO will be born in Tervuren, on the residential outskirts of Brussels, a few kilometers away from the Atlantic Alliance headquarters.  And it will be another, unexpected ‘collateral damage’ of the British-American invasion in Iraq and of the crisis it has prompted in relations with the United States.  Once again the ‘old Europe’--the one that U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld cannot stand and that Washington ‘hawks’ would like to ‘punish’ for not giving its blessing to the war--is surprising its critics that already considered it done for, and politically weak and isolated....  Since September 11, the United States has shown that it does not want to tie its hands with the obligations stemming from a predefined multilateral coalition.  In Afghanistan first and then in Iraq, the United States acted autonomously outside the NATO framework, while continuing to expect the Alliance to be the only possible place to organize the Europeans’ military capabilities.  In this way, Washington can maintain its political control over European defense, while, at the same time, keeping its hands free to pursue its own national interests in an autonomous way.  This is an asymmetry that the recent news on the transfer or the dismantlement of U.S. bases in Europe makes even more alarming since it reflects a growing lack of interest by the U.S. administration towards the military aspect of the Alliance.  The move by the ‘old Europe’ is aimed at correcting this imbalance, which is political more than operational.”


RUSSIA:  "Allies' Interests Increasingly Diverge"


Sergey Strokan commented in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (4/30):  "The process of creating non-NATO 'Euroforces' shows that the Allies' interests and defense doctrines have been diverging inexorably.  It also means that hopes for continued unity inside the Alliance, in which the United States would like to keep the Europeans as gofers, are getting ever dimmer.  United Europe has taken the first step to making a polite farewell to the GI's....  The idea of a 'Euroarmy' could not have failed to come about because along with the ideas of economic integration, democracy and human rights, there is one of security that underlies the concept of united Europe.  Events in Afghanistan and particularly in Iraq have merely added to Europe's doubts about the U.S.-controlled NATO as an armed guardian of the Western world's interests.  Building an army of its own is precisely the idea to which the Old World can rally.  The values--motherland, nationality, class affiliation--that have served nations for centuries, keeping them together, no longer make much sense.  They have been replaced by new values--ecologism, feminism, pacifism and nationalism interpreted as getting over a nation-state--which can unite people irrespective of their nationality."


AUSTRIA:  "Nothing Doing Without The Brits"


Security affairs writer Burkhard Bischof commented in centrist daily Die Presse (4/30) :  “The plans for a new momentum in European defense policy presented by Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg on Tuesday were not exactly convincing: A European Security and Defense Union open to all EU states, the establishment of common capacities for planning and operations, improved reactions--all this is pretty old hat.  The noble goals of the Brussels Four are not made any more plausible by the fact that three of its members are among those European states that spend the least money on military purposes....  A common defense policy can only be credible if the common European capacities are quickly modernized and strengthened. And that costs money--even in times like this, when all are set on tightening their belts.  Also: In any project involving a common EU defense policy, the participation of the British, as the strongest, most professional and most experienced armed force in Europe, is absolutely vital.  They are also the interface with the Americans, who--despite the unilateralism of their current administration--are going to remain a European power for some time to come, whether their critics like it or not.”


BELGIUM:  "Getting Beyond Nice Statements"


Christophe Lamfalussy wrote in independent La Libre Belgique (4/30):  “There is nothing more boring--and, actually, more anti-European--than to keep on repeating old ideas and setting up numerous committees to implement them.  At the end, everybody is lost and nothing concrete happens.  That is the impression that comes out of from yesterday’s declaration.  The idea of giving European defense a boost is noble and ambitious.  No one will deny that Europe must at last take its fate in hand and get over with this almost childish military dependence on the United States.  But the method is odd....  The four countries did not specify any precise objective--no specific numbers and no timetable....  Europeans do not expect their leaders to multiply nice statements.  What they want are concrete decisions.”


"An Unfortunate Initiative"


Olivier Gosset judged in financial L’Echo (4/30):  “Although one can endlessly talk about the legitimacy of the Freedom Iraq operation and on the need to topple Saddam Hussein, the reality is that a very dangerous gap has been created between Americans and Europeans and among European themselves as well.  This Summit will in no way contribute to removing these divisions.  On the contrary, based on the criticism coming from some EU member countries, this meeting is likely to yield the opposite of what it was supposed to yield--the reinforcement of the CFSP.  Even worse, this mini Summit might make the concept of the Old and the New Europe a very concrete reality....  Besides, if the objective was to make the Pentagon and the White House hawks understand that their unilateralism and their arrogance were likely to transform some of their partners in potential rivals, one can predict that the message is not likely to be taken seriously.  Because this initiative is even less credible since two of the four countries--Belgium and Germany--are constantly decreasing their military budget.  And it is only recently that France decided to increase its.  It will be years before it can close the gap on Great Britain.  Lastly, the fact of having decided to launch this initiative outside of the EU Treaty will add to people’s uneasiness....  It is quite clumsy for a country like Belgium--which claims to be in favor of the EU institutional framework--to take this initiative, which, whether one likes it or not, has a strong taste of anti-Americanism in the eyes of most EU member countries.”


"Needed:  A Wider Foundation"


Deputy chief editor Bart Sturtewagen commented in independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard (4/30):  “Most of all, the four government leaders and heads of state...did their best to stress what their initiative was not: it is not meant to be an expression of distrust vis-à-vis America and its coalition partners.  As victors in the war, it is obvious that the latter view every gathering of the core of their opponents with maximum suspicion.  The four (EU leaders) must make an effort to take that (suspicion) away and to find supporters for their plans.  That shows how regrettable it is that a wider foundation was not found as of the beginning.  Of course, a larger effort is needed for a common European defense policy.  Without that, Europe has to watch powerlessly how its member states operate incoherently when international crises break out--after which the groaning about a lack of efficiency can start again.  And, of course, the failure and the absence of a European Iraq policy was a perfect demonstration of how things should not be done.”


"An Election Stunt"


The conservative Christian-Democrat Het Belang van Limburg editorialized (4/30):  “German Chancellor Gerard Schroeder was right when he said that there is not too much America but too little Europe in NATO.  However, yesterday’s defense summit will change little to that because the summit was organized by the embittered losers in the Iraq war--who, for the time being, do not have to count on much support from other pro-American EU countries for a European army.  In other words, this shows how a good initiative--a European pillar in NATO--is jeopardized by picking a bad moment.  In short, yesterday’s mini defense summit in Brussels is not much more than an election stunt by Guy Verhofstadt.  We must admit it: the Prime Minister has succeeded.  He got international attention and he managed to engage Chirac and Schroeder in his election campaign.  Not everybody can say that.”


"Initiative Full Of Dangers"


Foreign affairs writer Kris Van Haver maintained in financial daily De Financieel-Economische Tijd (4/30):  “While Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder allowed their companion Guy Verhofstadt a nice election stunt, they are worried about the possible negative consequences of their dissident action.  Rightfully so, because the more Atlantic-oriented European and NATO partners consider the mini summit an act of despair in an attempt to control the middle thinking in Europe.  It is a fact that Europe was left with a hangover after the Iraq crisis.  But, the initiative is full of dangers--not in the least because (the four countries) can see that their dissident standpoint is reinforced in NATO and the EU and that they are isolating themselves from their partners.  The new member states that will join the EU in May, 2004 have already expressed their skepticism about the old European Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis.  They prefer by far the safe protection of Washington to the uncertain European cacophony.  For the European currency and the Europe without internal borders, the French-German motor was decisive.  But, a common European defense without the British is unthinkable.  And yet, the four think that they can make the difference--at least psychologically.  Voluntarism is a fine European virtue, but realism is at least as important.”


HUNGARY:  "In The Shadow Of Suspicion"


Deputy editor Tamas Boronkay commented in prestigious business/political Vilaggazdasag (4/30):  “The Iraq war has dramatically shed light on the lack of a common European foreign policy.  The European military and arms producer giants are concerned...[that] their American counterparts are going to put their hands on fat deals ahead of them....  The four countries that met for a summit in Brussels...did not manage to resolve the basic dilemma within the EU.  The leading military power of the EU, Great Britain, still finds the recent cooperation of Berlin, Paris, Brussels and Luxemburg suspicious.  The cooperation might appear to have an anti-American ‘tint’.  Without Great Britain though there is no common EU foreign and defense policy.”


"Tempers Leashed"


Defense writer Gabor Zord argued in right-wing daily Magyar Nemzet (4/30):  "The (old-new) question that brought together the four European the following: should a Europe be built which is a rival of Washington or a Europe which Washington respects?  The participants to the summit in the end avoided tearing apart transatlantic relations.  One lesson of the summit is that first common European military capabilities should be created.  Than can come the task of defining the EU’s common stance (and possible relationship) toward the United States.”


IRELAND:  "EU Defense Issue Highlighted"


The center-left Irish Times commented (4/30):  "The initiative on European defense and security taken by France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg yesterday usefully emphasizes the importance of these issues and brings them center stage in the debate on Europe's future.  They were at pains to emphasize that this complements NATO structures and is not anti-American....  Much of what they propose is already being implemented or under active consideration in the EU.  In that sense the four countries are a vanguard group rather than a divisive one.  Many of the military tasks they identify are increasingly seen as necessary if the EU is to play a credible and effective regional and international role, irrespective of whether all member-states participate in them.  The principal issue of contention is whether they are unnecessarily duplicating existing NATO structures....  The Iraq war has heightened public awareness of these issues.  Many Europeans are now more convinced of the need to organize defense and security in such a way as to service agreed EU values and objectives, which may increasingly diverge from those of the United States.  This will require a lot more debate about how that can best be done.  Britain, Spain and Italy have criticised yesterday's meeting for jeopardising relations with the United States and NATO; but they all have an interest in developing supplementary EU structures if the EU is to be a credible player in international affairs."


KOSOVO:  "Summit Of Four Deepens Divisions Within European Union"


Ekrem Krasniqi commented in independent, mass circulation daily Zeri (4/30):  “The political mess within the European Union has largely escalated....  Even though the conclusions from the summit speak continuously about the importance of NATO partnership, the contents of the project could not hide the objective of the four countries to gradually detach the European defense system from the one of the U.S.A., i.e. NATO.  Although small by ability and the number of the participating states, this meeting is big because of its symbolism.  France, Belgium and Germany not only were the great opponents of the American-British war on Iraq but they are also the countries that originally created, back in 1957, the first cell of the today’s European Union....  At the summit were proposed the creation of a joint general staff for European forces that would be independent from NATO; then the creation of a European Command for strategic transport and independent EU structures for military planning. Such structures, as proposed in the summit, are creating confusion in and complications for the current European defense projects and institutional relations with NATO.”      


NETHERLANDS:  "Non-Summit"


Influential liberal De Volkskrant judged (5/1):  "The goal was good but not the means.  Everybody agrees that Europe should strengthen its defense identity if it does not want to function as a nonentity in the world's political arena.  But the mini summit by France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium was not the good way to shape these military ambitions.  The summit was held outside the European Union - eleven out of the fifteen EU member states were not present and the countries which were present were the core of the anti-American/anti-war camp....  The four mini summit countries agreed to establish a European center for military planning and operation, but they refused to commit to an annual increase of their defense budgets.  So we will get something that would look like a headquarters while funds are required for cargo airplanes, guided ammunition, and integrated command and control systems.  The general is already there, now all we need is an army.  One encouraging aspect of their decisions is that they agreed that alliance with the United States should continue to be a strategic priority for Europe....  German Chancellor Schroeder said that European unification can only be reached in partnership with the Americans.  Hopefully, the Belgians will take this lesson seriously...  The fact that Belgium did not wish to support the plans against Iraq is perfectly fine...but it is unacceptable that Belgium tried to mobilize the critics of the war against the American-British couple....  A country that is the seat of both the EU and NATO should not be so reckless with such important institutions....  Europe should return to the spirit of St. Malo where in 1998,  the British and the French tried to lay the foundation for European defense.  The cooperation of these two countries is the best guarantee that the efforts will not just be a declaration but that there will actually be a European defense force which will be shaped in coordination with, and not in competition with, the Americans."


"Mini-Summit In Brussels"


Left-of-center Trouw maintained (5/1):  "In these times of insecurity and threats it is always nice to hear that four European countries call on the rest of the European Union to increase their efforts in the field of security and defense.  And in their statement talk about European Union Security and Defense (EUSD)...nice, but not very credible when it becomes clear that three of the four countries allowed their own armed forces to fall into a decline, that they have the lowest defense budgets of all NATO countries and have no plans to change this in the near future.  Besides 'incredible,' 'redundant' would be another good word to describe their mini summit....  We have reason to fear that EUSD will just be another acronym that the European politicians use to cover up the lack of real progress in the field of European defense."


NORWAY:  "What Is Happening With NATO Now?"


The independent Dagbladet  commented (4/30):  "The U.S. will go through all their connections with France to punish the country for the resistance against the U.S. in the UNSC before the invasion in Iraq....  In the beginning the U.S. was positive to the French-British initiative [a broader European defense and security initiative].  After the breakthrough for the neo-conservative foreign affairs politicians the U.S. has actively worked against all European defense cooperation.  The U.S. now wants to redefine NATO as a military ‘tool box’ that can be used by America’s military forces against different regimes around the world.  The isolation of France in the NATO alliance is a part of this policy."


POLAND:  "Defensive Europe"


Robert Soltyk observed in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (4/30):  “The defense summit of Germany, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg proved that it is still too late or too early for common European defense....  Building a defensive Europe is still a project only in writing.  Yesterday’s mini-summit in Brussels added four more pages to it.  If this project should ever come to fruition, it certainly cannot be in defiance of the U.S., and certainly must include Poland.”


"Turning Their Back On The Atlantic"


Bronislaw Wildstein opined in centrist Rzeczpospolita (4/30):  “The calculation by France and Germany ended in a fiasco as the U.S. won the war in Iraq with minimal casualties in its ranks and among the Iraqis, creating a chance for stability in the region at last.  All the organizers of the ‘losers’ summit’ [in Brussels] could now do was to make a good face and claim that their initiative was to complement NATO.  In fact, it is worrisome that this is another attempt to build European identity around opposition toward the U.S....  On the part of France and Germany, the Brussels initiative also manifests their continued effort to defend their privileged position in the EU....  The meeting in Brussels has no practical significance.  Will it be, though, another step toward Europe and America splitting apart?”


PORTUGAL:  "European Defense"


Foreign affairs editor Teresa de Sousa held influential moderate-left daily Público  (5/2):  "The wounds left by the Iraq crisis remain open, just as different visions remain of what political Europe and its relationship with the U.S. should be.  But the spirit today is more one of reconciliation than division.  And because of that, the four European leaders, beginning with French President Jacques Chirac, took pains to produce a final declaration that tried not to cross the 'red line.'...  Some of the ideas resulting from the summit are perfectly acceptable--and indispensable--for those who believe Europe has to have an autonomous security and defense policy in the framework of the [Atlantic] Alliance if it wants to end up with a credible foreign policy....  But the reaction of the United Kingdom will be decisive in evaluating the fate of the ideas of this 'pioneering group.'  Because there will be no European defense worthy of the name without the United Kingdom....  The ideas of the 'four' might be a good starting point for a debate at Fifteen.  At 'four', they will hardly get beyond being just good ideas."


"The Gang Of 4"


Portuguese wire service LUSA chief Luís Delgado wrote in respected center-left daily Diário de Notícias (5/2):  "Hasn't God given them a minimum of common sense?  Can it be that they still don't see how ridiculous their plan is?  Don't they remember the tragic and inglorious 'end' of the 'gang of 4'?  France, Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg lost their self-control over Saddam, and--unhappy about that--are insisting on a generalized joke of a wild plan to replace NATO, and the non-existent European Defense and Security pillar, with five thousand soldiers and a general.  OK: so who plays Mao's wife in this gang?"


"Playing At Realpolitik"


Lusiad University international relations Prof. João Marques de Almeida observed in center-right weekly O Independente (5/2):     "The immediate reaction to the 'summit of four' in Brussels is amazement....  What good is an air command if the Europeans depend on the aircraft of NATO and United States every time they need to intervene outside their borders?  In other words, what is the command supposed to command?...  Once again, Germany and France are defending strategies without being prepared to pay the costs.  But there are more reasons for us to be incredulous.  What's the point of proposing new initiatives in the defense area if those proposed at Helsinki in 1999 and in the Treaty of Nice still haven't been concluded?  Berlin and Paris seem to be like those compulsive readers who are always starting to read books without ever finishing them....  These initiatives do not reinforce the construction of Europe, they only create alliances and divisions inside the Union....  We cannot leave a monopoly of Europe's defense to those who call for a multipolar world, the heirs of a tradition of 'realpolitik'."


SPAIN:  "European Emancipation?"


Left-of-center El País commented (5/1):  "The meeting would have been inoffensive a couple of years ago.  From the other side of the Atlantic, it would have been seen as one more meeting among European leaders in order to try to get rid of, with poor results, U.S. military control.  Now, in renewed Bush's plans there is no place for disagreement and he plays at emphasizing divisions.  But the White House, which since 9/11--and especially in the case of Iraq--has ignored all those points of view different to its own, can not want at the same time to punish those who do not share its planetary ideology and be surprised that some of its allies do not want to follow the rhythm of imperial guidelines."


"The Divisions Continue"


Centrist La Vanguardia editorialized (4/30):  "The mere celebration of the mini-summit, is an image, again, of the division that has settled into European chanceries because of the war in Iraq....  It's obvious that the European pillar of NATO can and must be reinforced, above all taking into  consideration the expansion to the East of the organization.  The consolidation of a European of rapid reaction force is also perfectly feasible, and of course desirable.  However, it's logical that, in these times an initiative of this nature would arouse all kind of speculation because of the susceptibility that is on the surface.  Chirac's clarification that this does not attempt to duplicate NATO's Supreme Headquarters--SHAPE--turned out to be not only unnecessary, but a bit forced."


"Foreign And Defense Policy In The EU"


Conservative La Razon judged (4/30):  "Basically, what these four countries decided yesterday is a challenge for the whole of Europe and for the very existence of NATO, even if it was said that this agreement does not go against the Atlantic Alliance but towards the internal reinforcement of Europe.  And it is certain that the four are quite right and that it could have been NATO itself, because it was so effective, that has been the factor keeping the need for a purely continental military policy in the background because it was not urgent.  If their proposal succeeds, the EU would have its own independent military force and NATO would keep being the expression of the alliance with the United States.  We can only hope that the project succeeds in uniting the other eleven members of the EU...instead of deepening a fracture that would only benefit the enemies of a strong Europe."


"The Mini-Summit In Brussels: Toasting The Sun"


Conservative ABC observed (4/30):  "The summit of a step forward towards the weakening of transatlantic ties....  From the military point of view, the meeting was only relatively important.  Neither the structures pledged by the attending countries, nor the strategic position [of these countries] can be an alternative to NATO....  But from the political point of view it is another thing.  Persisting in their mistake, French and Germans insist on trying to build a certain Continental power which adapts the project to their interests....  Even if they say that the EU has the right to boost the European defense arm, and it is true, and they emphasize that it is not about creating an alternative to NATO, the way of calling the meeting together, the disregard for British and U.S. suggestions and the rejection of support [for the meeting] on the part of Spain, Italy and Portugal, among others, proves that their objective was to not to look for a new consensus."




CHINA:  "An Important Affair In European Integration Construction"


Mu Fangshun commented in the official intellectual publication Guangming Daily (Guangming Ribao) (4/30):  “The four countries’ summit is the direct result of the Iraqi war....  The summit is a challenge to the U.S.’ unilateralism and hegemony, and adds to the deepening crisis with NATO as well, a military organization that is becoming looser after Cold War.  The media pointed out that the summit has earned support from Russia, which further increased U.S. suspicions....  The summit also seems to have enhanced the internal divergence of the EU members on the Iraqi issue to a further extent.”


PHILIPPINES:  "Poles Apart"


The independent Manila Times had this view (5/1):  "It's a pity that the summit in Brussels on April 29 ended in a whimper.  The meeting was the brainchild of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium.  Invitations went out to all the members of the European Union, but in the event only France, Germany and Luxembourg accepted.  The backdrop of the meeting was the war in Iraq.  It was perhaps inescapable that it would be perceived as anti-U.S.  This perception was not helped by Prime Minister Verhofstadt's remark that the U.S. 'is a deeply wounded power that has become very dangerous and thinks that it must take over the whole Arab world.'  Somehow it became the subtext of the summit....  President Chirac stressed that the summit's aim was 'to strengthen NATO' and that European military operations would be planned and carried out only where NATO was not involved.  This is a cop-out.  This is nothing more than the Rapid Deployment Force that the U.S. urged Europe to put together.  We had hoped that Europe would be the countervailing force to American power.  A unipolar world is as dangerous as one dominated by two superpowers.  For the time being, no country can match the military might of the U.S....  The only check on the U.S. is the UN.  But that institution, along with NATO and EU, will all have to adjust to new realities....  The EU should not give up the idea of developing a credible military capability that can project its influence.  Crises and upheavals in Asia and Africa need the steadying of both the U.S. and Europe.  As the exemplars of democracy and economic freedom, the two richest regions of the world should not be poles apart, even if once in a while they come to blows."


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