Ilves: EU needs common foreign policy

  • 2006-02-22
  • From wire reports
TALLINN - MEP Toomas Hendrik Ilves, vice chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, has stressed that the EU lacks a common foreign and security policy.
"Actually there is no such thing now," Ilves told a Postimees journalist. "We should have a coordinated foreign policy; now we don't have a common foreign policy on any matter."

The Socialist MEP argued that the farther away an issue lay from Europe, the more united Europe was in its stance, whereas on issues that lay closer the countries differed more and more. "This is one reason why we need a constitutional treaty that would focus our foreign policy," he said.

As examples, Ilves named approaches to Russian politics and response to the Danish cartoon row. "Let's take the Ukraine gas crisis," he said. "I don't know what could serve as a clearer signal - for euroskeptics as well as British conservatives and French socialists - that we need a common energy policy, because big Russia's riding over Germany," he said.

A common EU energy policy is the union's sole hope if it wants to resist potential pressure regarding gas supplies, Ilves said, adding that the same was true about trade.

The former foreign minister mentioned that Estonia was upset when the European Commission didn't take a firm stance in the row over the Estonian-Russian border treaty.

"I don't see any strong support or solidarity with Denmark on the part of Estonia right now. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet has said something, but generally we must take into account that, if we wish to achieve something, we are not the only ones who want support," he said.

Speaking about the border treaties, Ilves opined that there was no solution to the problem at this point.

He said the option held out by Russia, according to which Estonia should give up the preamble that its lawmakers added when ratifying the treaty, was ruled out politically. "I don't see Estonia as ready for it now," he said.

It is difficult to say what will happen next.

"We may have a situation like Norway, which has lived for 600 years without a border treaty with Russia," Ilves said. "Mostly it has worked. A border treaty is needed when things don't work."