A former senior UK government minister has hit out at “small-minded nation first politicians” who “refuse to allow the EU to shape a common foreign policy.”
The attack was made by Denis MacShane who spent eight years at the UK Foreign Office as Tony Blair’s expert on European politics.
He was commenting on what some see as a lack of current political leadership in many parts of the world.
His comments come against a backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine and events such as the recent court appearance in the United States of Donald Trump.
In an exclusive interview with this website, he believes that modern politics “leaves no space for politicians or ministers who have real-time experience of what happens in other countries and how political leaders think about international relations.”
“In Europe, for example, the hopes of the Lisbon Treaty that creating a sort of EU foreign ministry in the European External Action Service would allow the EU to play an international role have not materialised.”
The former Labour front bencher said, “Again and again, the member states of the EU refuse to create what might be called a Single Market in Foreign Policy – breaking down national barriers so the EU can speak with one voice.”
MacShane’s period in office ended with him as Minister of Europe when the EU was enlarged to take in ex-Communist countries and talks began with Turkey’s then new leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The respected ex-Minister added, “It took ten years of war, death squads, massacres, refugees escaping from the West Balkans in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo before Europe had leaders like Tony Blair, Joschka Fischer and Jacques Chirac ready to work with Bill Clinton and stop the Serb genocide machine.”
He went on to say, “But when it came to Russia under Putin and his aggressive behaviour in Ukraine in 2005, annexations of Georgian territory in 2008, or the invasion of Ukraine in 2014 there was no EU policy.”
MacShane says, “Each member state runs its own Putin policy. Merkel wanted cheap gas and to sell Mercedes, the faded Gullist foreign policy of France wanted a special relationship with the Kremlin while the UK created Londongrad when Boris Johnson was Mayor of London.”
“Greece refused to recognise that the Skopje ruled Macedonia existed as a small harmless nation state for 20 years and Cyprus refused to recognise that Kosovo is no longer a colony ruled from Belgrade but is a small independent nation state.”
He said, “So nations led by small-minded nation first politicians refuse to allow the EU to shape a common foreign policy. Small minded national identity politicians in England gave us Brexit which has weakened the EU as a global policy player.”
MacShane continued, “Big countries like the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – all pursue a foreign policy that ignores the need to work together.
“Diplomacy and politicians who can think beyond local media headlines and educate voters about the complexities of modern international relations are very thin on the ground.”
“English may be a common language for diplomacy but when no English or American senior elected official can speak a word of German or Spanish or read an article in Le Monde or Republica we have inward looking and poor quality politicians in charge of international relations.”
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