J P Floru: Putin is thrilled with EU foreign policy
On 7 August Russia invaded Georgia. Within 5 days it looked as if the whole country would be overrun. Sarkozy, holder of the six month rotating presidency of the EU, brokered a peace deal. In Le Figaro he boasted how the EU rose to the occasion. His success “showed how much the EU could do with enough political will”.
President Saakashvili of Georgia had no option but to sign the deal. But it quickly transpired that emperor Sarkozy had no clothes – the peace deal did not guarantee the territorial integrity of Georgia and allowed Russia to keep “peace keeping troops” in the country.
Today Russia continues to occupy Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and other chunks of Georgia. Georgia gets 200 civilian observers and humanitarian help (including 35,000 bandages) from the EU. The EU gets Sarkozy’s promise of “Peace in our Time”.
Most people in the world probably don’t care much about Georgia. It’s far away. It’s unknown. It has no oil. But Georgia shows us something else. This is what EU foreign policy would look like: heaps of verbose diplomacy and no solutions.
In virtually every case where the EU has tried to agree a common policy in the past we have ended up with not much more than an ambiguously phrased communiqué to hide its failure. The EU’s diplomatic efforts seldom bear fruit as they are never underpinned by serious economic sanctions or by the threat of military action. When was the last time an EU country – apart from Britain – sent troops in substantial numbers to liberate far away peoples? Does anyone out there seriously believe that the EU would have taken back the Falklands or would have removed the Taliban from power?
Numerous Euro-enthusiasts have put forward the EU’s “success” in Georgia as an illustration of the even greater geo-political triumphs to be expected if only the Lisbon Treaty were to be ratified. The 2 ½ year term of the EU president would guarantee greater continuity of policy. The foreign minister and his European diplomatic service would add clout to the new European World Player (as a “counter-weight” to you know whom). Would not many be seduced by our David Miliband when he muses that “Europe needs to act as one when dealing with third parties like Russia”?
One person is thrilled by the prospect of an EU foreign policy: Putin. His Deputy Foreign Minister Yakovenko recently called on the EU rather than NATO to act as guarantors of Georgia’s security. EU diplomacy might also come in handy later on, when Russia claims the Arctic and invades a few other small countries along its borders.
Today France and Germany say that offering Georgia NATO membership would be “provocative” to Russia. Some EU countries have just fallen short of calling overrun Georgia “The Aggressor”. Should we leave it to such heroic countries to impose their ramshackle foreign policies upon us through the EU?