EU hopes Bush victory willmend transatlantic frictions

4th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

4 November 2004 , BRUSSELS - As European Union leaders rushed to congratulate US President George W. Bush on his re-election, the bloc's top policymakers had one common hope: The old/new team in Washington will break with its hostile Euro-bashing and start treating the 25 nation bloc as equal partner and ally. "This is an opportunity for a new start," a European Union (EU) diplomat told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. "Our best hope for success lies in common action, in a spirit of true partnership," added Eu

4 November 2004

BRUSSELS - As European Union leaders rushed to congratulate US President George W. Bush on his re-election, the bloc's top policymakers had one common hope: The old/new team in Washington will break with its hostile Euro-bashing and start treating the 25 nation bloc as equal partner and ally.

"This is an opportunity for a new start," a European Union (EU) diplomat told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"Our best hope for success lies in common action, in a spirit of true partnership," added European Union (EU) foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana.

Although careful not to be seen as meddling in the American elections, most EU policymakers made no secret of the fact they were rooting for defeated Democrat contender John Kerry.

The view was that Kerry, with his election vows of consulting allies and supporting the United Nations, would have brought a new and less abrasive style to Washington's dealings with Europe.

Europe's main hope now is that Bush will appoint new cabinet members who are less anti-European and will not, like Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, try and "cherry pick" among EU states or make unpleasant comparisons between anti-American "old" Europe and more pro-US "new" members of the club.

Mending transatlantic fault lines will take time and effort, however.

Topping the agenda of quarrels needing to be resolved is acrimony over the US-led war on Iraq. Washington's invasion of Baghad was opposed by a majority of Europeans and the governments of Germany, France and Belgium.

Britain, Italy, Spain (under its former government) and Poland all backed the war.

Berlin and Paris are still unwilling to send troops - NATO or their own national forces - to help stabilise Iraq and remain reluctant to become too involved in the country's reconstruction.

Diplomats say this is unlikely to change under "Bush II" unless Washington makes a more determined bid to involve the United Nations in Baghdad and speeds up efforts to install a real democracy in Iraq.

Not surprisingly, EU leaders who meet interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on Friday will only promise Baghdad support for training local police and financial backing for upcoming elections.

EU policymakers are adamant that the US Administration must also start paying more attention to escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Convinced that there can be no progress in implementing the internationally-agreed peace road map without strong pressure from the US, EU officials including chief diplomat Solana are urging Washingtom to become more actively involved in the Middle East.

Now that Bush has been re-elected, Washington "definitely needs to be on board" in trying to end Israeli-Palestinian hostilities, said an EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

On other sources of friction, EU policymakers expect no change in US opposition to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming or in America's hostility to the International Criminal Court.

And Bush, the second time around, is expected to run a tough trade policy, leading to further strains with Europe on an array of issues including genetically modified foods and subsidies to civilian aircraft.

Still, many in Europe admit dealing with the world's one and only super power requires EU states to stop bickering and put up a united front on key global questions.

"The state of future EU relations with America depends on the EU," was the blunt conclusion of a diplomat in Brussels.

To succeed in making an impact in Washington, Europeans would need to "build a capacity to act together on the international stage," he said.

"Our hope is that the US will look beyond the strains over Iraq and see Europeans as real allies - especially when it comes to dealing with the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East," the diplomat added.

In other words, even the world's sole superpower still needs friends.

DPA

Subject: German news

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