Main aspects and basic choices of CFSP
Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, I would like to start by extending my group´s congratulations to Mr Brok on his report, which is, as always, very balanced and – like his chairmanship of the committee – very circumspect, while carrying a clear message. That is certainly an art, but Mr Brok proves his mastery of it over and over again.
Today, however, I would like to start in a slightly different way, as I would like to stress that our primary purpose is to promote Europe´s interests, and that this is not in any way something to be concealed. The only issue is to what extent our interests coincide with those of others, and how often they are in parallel. Particularly in security maters, but also in many other areas, we can see that Europe´s interests parallel those of other regions. If we use the security concept that Commissioner Patten has again put before us today – which would be only right and proper – we will see how we are well able to take other regions´ aspirations into account when properly defending our interests.
One of the things that were discussed and highlighted as long ago as the debate on the presidency was the refugee issue. I hope that what was said will be backed up by actions, by which I mean that we will take action in those countries where people feel – or actually are – forced to flee, and help to prevent refugees flooding into Europe to the extent that they do. That is in our interests but also in the interests of these people, in that we are giving them the chance of a prosperous life in their own country, from which they will not need to escape.
To be sure, we need partners in this policy. The Americans are, of course, our privileged partners, but we still need to strengthen and develop our relations with other regions such as Russia, China, and India, if we are to cultivate this partnership in an appropriate way. This is pre-eminently the case as regards one issue on which our debates will focus during the coming months, and on which Mr Laschet is completing a report, namely reform of the United Nations. Anyone who – like our group as a whole – wants the United Nations to come into its own, anyone who fully supports the multilateral approach, must also press for the United Nations to be reformed in such a way as to make it more effective whilst remaining representative.
All those in this group who opposed the USA´s intervention in Iraq must nevertheless acknowledge that it was also – and I emphasise also – due to the failure by the whole structure of the modern-day United Nations that things got to such a pass, and that we did not make a multilateral attempt at regime change in Iraq at an earlier stage, which would have been the right time to do it.
Whatever criticisms might be levelled at our own foreign and security policy, we do, as I said earlier, have grounds for pride. Reference has been made to Iran. Although, institutionally speaking, things could have been better, that was a fine achievement, but it is success that counts, so let us stand by this one. I would particularly like to extend warm thanks to the Commissioner for the policy in the Balkans. When we consider what we have achieved in the Balkans in recent years, and how we have managed to bring peace, that is a very positive sign. It also means, however, that Europe has to take up its own responsibilities. If we are prepared to take up our own responsibilities in our own back yard, then we can achieve success.