Western European News Digest
Opposition Mounting to European Union's Lisbon Treaty
Feb. 29 (EIRNS)The Socialist Party of the Netherlands has submitted to that country's parliament, legislation calling for a referendum to be organized on the EU Treaty, which would deprive member states of essential aspects of national sovereignty. The SP was at the vanguard of mobilizing the "no" vote in the 2005 referendum, which defeated the European Constitution, making the Lisbon Treatya slightly altered version of the same thinga political necessity for the oligarchical circles promoting it.
In Great Britain, Liberal Democratic Member of Parliament Ed Davey was thrown out of the House of Commons on Feb. 26, after demanding a referendum during a debate on the treaty. His call for a vote on holding a referendum was ruled out of order by Speaker Michael Martin, after a decision by the Labor and the Conservative Party leaderships in Parliament.
In Ireland, the Sinn Fein will be holding its annual conference, where a mobilization for a "no" vote against the Treaty will be a major topic. Anti-treaty campaigners from other countries will be speaking as guests, including Harry Van Bommel of the Socialist Party of the Netherlands. Sinn Fein, which has four seats in the 166-seat Irish Parliament, is the only elected party opposing the treaty.
On Feb. 27, EU Commissioner Margot Wallstroem showed up in Dublin, in an attempt to defuse broadly voiced Irish concerns that joining the Lisbon Treaty would imply the loss of Ireland's military neutrality status.
The Europe committee of the Austrian parliament discussed the Treaty on Feb. 27. The governing Socialists are not happy about it, although they are support it anyway. Both opposition parties, FPOe and BZOe, oppose the Treaty, the latter's members even walking out of the committee session, calling it a "mere propaganda event." The FPOe is gathering signatures for a petition aimed at getting a referendum in Austria.
In Britain, the cross-party alliance called, "I want a referendum," brought more than 2,000 protesters to London on Feb. 27, to rally in front of parliament and lobby parliamentarians. The rally, which brought together parliament members from all parties, labor unionists, and representatives of other organizations, came ahead of a crucial House of Commons vote March 5, on whether to hold a referendum. A giant ballot box was placed in next to the House of Commons, to symbolize the need for voters to be given a say on the switch of sovereignty from Great Britain to the EU.
The Czech Republic government is "wary" of the Lisbon Treaty, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told EIR, at a presentation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington today. But the Czech Senate is insisting that the Treaty be considered by the Court of Justice, and that the government agrees that the legitimacy of "the Lisbon Treaty must be judged by the Czech Court of Justice," and not by the European court.
Opposition Mounts to Deployment of U.S. Missile Defense
Feb. 22 (EIRNS)U.S. Undersecretary of State John Rood, following meetings with Czech and Polish representatives to discuss missile defense, assured reporters at a news conference yesterday that they've made "significant progress," and that there are no "major issues that are outstanding ... insurmountable," as reported by Reuters. But opposition to those plans is growing abroad, and in the United States.
Foreign Policy in Focus reports on the opposition in Poland and the Czech Republic to the deployment of components of a U.S. missile defense system in their nations. In the Czech Republic, the No Bases Initiative is organizing opposition (70% of the population is opposed), and is calling for a referendum. Peace groups in the U.S. are planning demonstrations in Washington on Feb. 27, when Czech Prime Minister is in town, and also in March, when the Polish Prime Minister visits President Bush.
City of London: Blair Not Fit To Be EU President
Feb. 25 (EIRNS) An editorial in today's Financial Times, mouthpiece of the City of London, suggests that the Anglo-Dutch financial oligarchy has not yet reached a consensus around the candidacy of Tony Blair for the EU presidency. The editorial states that he would "be an inappropriate choice and not just because of the folly of Iraq." He also failed to "change the terms of Britain's tortured EU debate," and "blew the chance to lead Europeeven though many policy arguments inside the EU tilted Britain's way." "The new president," says the Times, "should also have the authority to help the EU punch its political weight. The job could therefore include the ability to unite the EU in standing up to Russia, articulate a more coherent and less supine policy towards the Middle East ... develop a more rounded engagement with China beyond trade, and make the EU a more valuable ally to the U.S. All this suggests an instinctive Atlanticist who, nevertheless, could say no to Washington when necessary. That does not immediately suggest Mr. Blair."
Independent Kosovo Heading Towards Partition?
Feb. 24 (EIRNS)Independent Kosovo could wind up being smaller than the territory that declared independence one week ago. The northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica has been de facto divided between Serbs and Albanians, with NATO troops and UN police having closed the bridge over the river that divides the city. Oliver Ivanovic, described as a moderate Serb leader who has been sidelined by Belgrade-backed extremists, told the Sunday Telegraph that this is the beginning of the secession of the Serb-dominated part of Kosovo, which could lead to attacks on Albanians who still live north of the river. "The Albanians would then retaliate on the Serbian enclaves throughout Kosovo, and the ethnic cleansing will be completed under the eyes of the international community," he said.
France, Germany Sucked Into Brit Geopolitics
PARIS, Feb. 26 (EIRNS)If you wondered why German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are suddenly rushing into a policy of increasing the troops in Afghanistan, the January 2008 policy paper, "Afghanistan, Europe's Forgotten War," shows how France and Germany are being sucked into British imperial geopolitics. Written by Daniel Korski, the report was published by the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), whose executive director is Tony Blair's 25-year-old "wonder boy," Mark Leonard, who co-authored the liberal-imperialist "New European Century" doctrine with Blair advisor Robert Cooper.
Korski argues that the current, military-focussed coalition strategy should be replaced with "a comprehensive political strategy." The crux of this strategy is the need for a "grand bargain": "The EU should deploy more troops in Afghanistan," relax restrictions on their troops, and reverse the decline in development aid. This "bargain" is to be agreed upon at the April 2008 Bucharest NATO summit.
ECFR is backed by the Soros Foundations Network, Sigrid Rausing, FRIDE (La Fundacion para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Dialogo Exterior), the UniCredit Group, and the Communitas Foundation.