EU’s magnetic pole weakened by crisis, says Solana
By Brian Beary in Washington | Monday 16 April 2012
The European Union’s financial crisis has caused it to lose some of the magnetic attraction it had for its European neighbours, the EU’s foreign policy chief from 1999 to 2009, Javier Solana, has said. Musing on where the Union was headed and how far its borders should extend during a talk at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, on 13 April, he voiced doubts that Ukraine and Georgia “will ever be a part of the EU”. He was concerned by what he saw as backsliding on democracy in Georgia and called Ukraine “one of the great frustrations I had in my life”. Specifically, he had been very frustrated, he said, by the fighting among Ukraine’s pro-Western leaders, Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, as this had allowed their arch-rival and current President Viktor Yanukovych to ascend to power.
Despite his somewhat gloomy prognosis for these states, Solana felt that EU enlargement would not cease entirely. He expressed satisfaction that Serbia had moved “much closer to EU membership” and, speaking of Serb-Kosovo relations, said “things are better than they used to be”. He also strongly endorsed Turkey’s stalled EU accession bid, saying it would be a hugely important addition to the EU in the foreign policy domain. Turkey was “a democratic, Muslim country that will bring vitality to the EU,” he argued, while admitting that Cyprus would remain an obstacle to Turkey joining, even more so now that oil has been discovered in Cyprus’ territorial waters. Turning to Russia, he predicted that incoming President Vladimir Putin would be more conciliatory this time round than during his first presidency (1999-2008) as the recent popular protests in Russia had shown him the limits of his powers.