August 12, 2008

English Summary

The August issue of Diplomaatia focuses on current affairs in Europe.

David Rennie, the Brussels correspondent of The Economist, analyses the nature of the Lisbon Treaty and the situation Ireland is in after the referendum. “Beware arguments that sound as though they must be true,” warns Rennie. “That is the lesson of the Lisbon Treaty, and the torrent of rhetoric from European Union leaders that a failure to ratify the union’s new rule book would be a catastrophe. (—) Without Lisbon, they repeat, the EU risks paralysis, and cannot take its rightful place on the world stage. As said before, this is a terribly plausible argument. The only problem is: in almost every detail, it is not true—and a startling number of the ambassadors, politicians and senior officials who inhabit the EU’s corridors of power admit as much in private.”

The August issue of Diplomaatia focuses on current affairs in Europe.

David Rennie, the Brussels correspondent of The Economist, analyses the nature of the Lisbon Treaty and the situation Ireland is in after the referendum. “Beware arguments that sound as though they must be true,” warns Rennie. “That is the lesson of the Lisbon Treaty, and the torrent of rhetoric from European Union leaders that a failure to ratify the union’s new rule book would be a catastrophe. (—) Without Lisbon, they repeat, the EU risks paralysis, and cannot take its rightful place on the world stage. As said before, this is a terribly plausible argument. The only problem is: in almost every detail, it is not true—and a startling number of the ambassadors, politicians and senior officials who inhabit the EU’s corridors of power admit as much in private.”

English Summary

The August issue of Diplomaatia focuses on current affairs in Europe.
David Rennie, the Brussels correspondent of The Economist, analyses the nature of the Lisbon Treaty and the situation Ireland is in after the referendum. “Beware arguments that sound as though they must be true,” warns Rennie. “That is the lesson of the Lisbon Treaty, and the torrent of rhetoric from European Union leaders that a failure to ratify the union’s new rule book would be a catastrophe. (—) Without Lisbon, they repeat, the EU risks paralysis, and cannot take its rightful place on the world stage. As said before, this is a terribly plausible argument. The only problem is: in almost every detail, it is not true—and a startling number of the ambassadors, politicians and senior officials who inhabit the EU’s corridors of power admit as much in private.”
Rennie points out that there are several reasons why the arguments in favour of Lisbon are plausible, but wrong nevertheless. “Start with the idea that scrapping unanimity is a good thing because it makes law-making more efficient. When EU federalists say ‘efficiency’, they really mean ‘speed’. (—) But laws passed quickly are not necessarily good laws. The very term ‘efficiency’ is rather creepy, in the context of legislation.”
Secondly, if the paralysis argument were right, one would expect to see a growing logjam of legislation concentrated in areas of policy that need unanimous agreement by all member nations of the EU. But according to several researchers quoted by Rennie, there is no such logjam: “Tough political decisions continue to be taken unanimously. (—) In all fields, with 27 nations round the table, officials report less waffle in enlarged EU meetings.”
Rennie adds that “the EU foreign minister sounds good in theory. But Europe is usually weak in the wider world not because it lacks a spokesman, but because its member nations do not agree. (—) It is commonly said that Lisbon’s talk of energy solidarity is the answer to countries, notably the Baltics, that fear Russian bullying over energy. But does anyone in Estonia imagine that the problem with Russian bullying is the lack of a single spokesman for Europe, or a single energy policy? No, the problem is the fact that so many member states talk solidarity with one corner of their mouths, then rush off to sign bilateral deals with Gazprom.”
Rennie concludes by stating that “the Lisbon Treaty is a messy set of compromises, and nobody understands quite how it would work. In the meantime, the EU continues to function (as well as it ever has). This makes sense. As with most things in politics, success in Europe is a matter of will, good timing and persuasion, not institutional structures. EU leaders would do a lot better rolling up their sleeves and getting on with some real work.”
One urgent task that Europe should tackle is suggested by Mart Laar, former Prime Minister of Estonia. “Communism is a criminal ideology and it must be condemned,” asserts Laar. “We should start by investigating and raising public awareness of Communist crimes.” Laar claims that we should do it not only for ethical, but for entirely practical reasons: “Without admitting that Communist ideology is criminal and without understanding its nature democratic states will simply not be able to cope with countries that have adopted such an ideology.”
Officer Sten Allik and Julian Tupay, an analyst at the International Centre for Defence Studies, examine the new security strategies of France and Germany, the so-called white papers.
Another analyst at the International Centre for Defence Studies Kaarel Kaas gives an overview of the progress made in the negotiations over the nuclear programme of Iran. The negotiators will reach an important crossroads on August 2 – that is the deadline set by six world powers for Iran to freeze its nuclear programme and to start real negotiations. “Teheran has never been faced with a more concrete choice,” claims Kaas. “It is a clear sign of the fact that the diplomatic process of negotiations, which have dragged on between two partners of whom one is evasive and stalling and another is extremely patient and susceptible, has reached its logical end. Negotiations that bring no actual results are pointless and cannot last forever.”
Still, those who hope that stubborn Iran will turn overnight into an eager partner interested in cooperation are too optimistic. The international community is therefore running out of options. Should we all admit our powerlessness and accept the existence of a nuclear Iran with all the respective consequences in regional and global politics? Or should Iran’s nuclear programme be finished off with air strikes – an option which is also problematic from the military and political perspective and has plenty of undesirable regional consequences?
Historian Marek Tamm pays tribute to Bronislaw Geremek, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, who died in a car crash in July. Tamm describes how Geremek became a medievist historian and how he participated in the transfer of power in Poland – many claim that the transfer was peaceful only due to Geremek’s diplomatic efforts and skills. “It is beyond any doubt that Geremek was one of the most pro-European politicians in Eastern Europe,” claims Tamm. “He was one of the last from the powerful circle of Central and Eastern European politicians-intellectuals whose views have shaped Europe’s political landscape over recent decades. (—) Westerners think highly of Poland because Geremek represented it. However, in recent years, i.e. under the rule of the Kaczyński twins, there has been a dramatic decline in Poland’s reputation.”

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