Today’s subject is the new EU constitution, which was released to the public this past week in four installments, and specifically about the reaction in the country where that has been most vociferous – namely the United Kingdom. Yes, this once again means a weblog entry that belies EuroSavant’s self-description as “Commentary on the European non-English-language press.” But the unveiling of the EU Constitutional Convention’s draft constitution has converged with an outbreak of public discussion over British adoption of the euro – ahead of Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown’s speech scheduled for June 9 as to whether the country is at the stage where a referendum over the euro would be appropriate – to produce some truly noteworthy reporting and commentary to which I thought I would draw your attention. Even NATO does not escape unscathed. (more…)
Time now to switch from overtly political subjects – the lifting of Iraqi sanctions at the UN Security Council – to a phenomenon which may seem apolitical (in fact, it’s downright shmaltzy) but which contains within itself potentially very serious political implications. I refer here to the Eurovision Song Contest, which came to its conclusion on Saturday night by declaring the Turkish entry, “Everyway [sic] That I Can,” sung by Ms. Sertab Erener, the winner of the 26-nation competition. (Those of you from outside of the European continent who don’t know what I’m talking about – or, bless you, even those of you who actually live in Europe but still haven’t a clue – click here for an explanation.) That Turkey would win – and for the very first time in the contest’s 48-year existence – is serious enough. Really: serious. I’m working on an essay on the subject, to tell you what I mean. When I post its link to the left side of this website under “My Articles,” I’ll re-edit this entry to announce this and give you the link directly.
But right here I’d rather like to call your attention to the other end of the scale, namely the very bottom, occupied for the year 2003 by Great Britain whose entry, the song “Cry Baby” by the boy-girl duo JEMINI, came in dead last with zero points. (more…)
“Punish France, ignore Germany, forgive Russia”: that was US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice’s formulation last month of Washington’s post-war approach towards those major European powers which had proven so uncooperative to America’s designs in the run-up to the War in Iraq. Germany could well count itself lucky to fall under “ignore” rather than “punish”; at least that leaves the field open for Gerhard Schröder’s government to take initiatives of its own to try to reconstruct the formerly close American-German relationship and have Schröder and President Bush officially speaking to each other again.
It’s true that German Defense Minister Peter Struck’s visit last week to Washington was uncharacteristically low-key – not one photo of a smiling Struck shaking hands with his American counterpart Donald Rumsfeld to be seen, for example. And the Germans do not help their case by letting acid comments by their high officials slip out into the light of international press scrutiny, as we discussed here in EuroSavant, although it seems that that one did not slip out very far. (Who knows? Maybe the incident never happened at all – but I tend to grant the Times of London, which reported it, a large share of benefit-of-the-doubt.) But the German press is continuing to report and analyze this effort by its government to get back into the American good graces. (more…)
Europe is being rude to the US again, it seems – but thankfully this time only a few of our English friends noticed.
Strangely enough, my regular forays through the American and European press had led me to believe that Chancellor Schröder’s government in Germany, above all, was eager to to mend relations with the US after the rather serious difference-of-opinion about Iraq. Nonetheless, we apparently have one Jürgen Chrobog, State Secretary of the German Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office), instructing a regularly-scheduled meeting of all German ambassadors that the US is becoming a “police state,” as it is “restricting more and more its civic liberties at home.” (more…)
The heads of state of France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg met yesterday in Brussels to launch a new European defense initiative for a multinational force to flesh out the European Union’s foreign and security policies. Presidents Chirac and Schröder and Prime Ministers Verhofstadt and Juncker took pains to emphasize that they were not acting against NATO nor against that alliance’s senior partner, the United States.
Of course, besides Luxembourg, it is true that these were the European countries in the forefront of opposition to America and its “coalition of the willing” as they undertook their assault on Iraq. And many do intrepret this as an anti-NATO gesture – the Times of London‘s foreign editor Bronwen Maddox speaks of a “direct hit on Nato” and “payback time” for these four countries. What do the countries involved have to say for themselves? (more…)