Transatlantic relations

Mr President, Mr President-in Office of the Council, Commissioner Patten, if we look back over the last debate and compare it with the situation we have today, we have, I regret, no option but to conclude that the gulf in relations between the United States and Europe has at least not diminished. We all had expectations and hopes that this would change for the better in the course of time. Looking at our report, our declaration, our motion for a resolution, I see three major political themes: the strengthening of the United Nations, the situation in the Middle East and the fight against terrorism. In all three of these – when considered realistically and not just optimistically – there are major differences.Where strengthening the United Nations is concerned, I do not see any change in emphasis in the USA´s policies. If we are now to really get the United Nations more involved in Iraq, then we have to be very careful about it, for it must be the United Nations in reality, rather than the United Nations acting as something like an extension of the occupying powers in that country. In that event, they will be sucked into the same maelstrom of violence and retaliation as the Americans have been.The fact is that there is, in the region itself, nothing left of the loudly-trumpeted initiative for a new Middle East. I wish we could join with the Americans in getting right down to the root causes and devising an overall strategy for the Middle East, which cannot, to be sure, focus on Israel and Palestine alone.I also think there are still serious differences where anti-terrorism is concerned. Today, I listened to Commissioner Patten – as always, it was a pleasure to do so – and I agree with many of his arguments. He is wrong about the way I voted, but he is right about much else. We have to be very careful about this, and it may be that we have to go to the outermost limit of what is legally feasible in order to have a real defence against terrorism, but what is essential is that we combat its causes, and there are, as before, great differences in the ways in which Europe and the United States of America go about doing that.