FOCUS MID SEPTEMBER – MID OCTOBER 2010
While elsewhere we mention the speech of Newt Gingrich given in American Enterprise Institute, one of the favoired contact of our Washington years, we will give some attention to France in our “focus of this month. Take it as a modest effort at geopolitical balance.
We had occasion to visited the annual Convention of a the RIF, ” Rassemblement Independence pour la France” and we noticed it now goes so far as to plead for exiting France from the European Union, the Schengen treaties, and also NATO and WTO.
Is that realistic ? Can it be done ? Perhaps not. But it least such a clear choice has the advantage of giving a political movement with a clear marketing tag.
This kind of tactical (shorter term, not the longterm strategic) positioning is not unknown to other political movements.
We see a French movement with an even clearer message in “Bloc Identitaire”, led by Philippe Robert posied to put its own candidate for the presidential elections in 2012. I s this choice made with any real hope for the Presidency ? No, but it is good clear marketing.
This is not the place to judge the positions.
The fact however that in “RIF” so anti EU vows are expressed is important. The French RIF’s unhappiness with Brussels could well coalesce with unhappiness in other European Union member countries like German. There the unhappiness might be of another nature directed at European management of the EURO. Coalescence might also be possible with Netherlands unhappiness with EU’ weakness on Turkey and on defence against radical Islam. The reasons may be dissmilar, but again, but some coalescence could change the political field. In the Netherlands there is – as expected for a trading nation – still important support for the EU and the euro
RIF’’s president Paul Marie Couteaux ( http://www.valeursactuelles.com/parlons-vrai/parlons-vrai/temp%C3%AAte-en-vue20100819.html ) pointed to great shifts which he expects to see (and to cause) in the French political landscape.He sees the reigning UMP party and also Front National disintegrating and he would then be happy to receive like-minded patriots in a broader party, his party RIF.
If a movement away from the EU should gain momentum in some countries, that would greatly undercut and might then end the accession negotiations with Turkey, and that again may make the EU more acceptable to Holland. The Turkish candidature was an important element in the Dutch “NO” to the constitution.
The way how European Commissioners like Mrs Viviane Reding and the European Parliament deal with a member country like France on the question of the “Roms” –gypsies- is causing further unhappiness. Reading’s ideas on imposing quota for women in business boardrooms may a also a sign of growing Commission arrogance.
Let us then also see how under Baroness Ashton’s guidance the new EU diplomatic action force will deal with present bilateral ambassadors when Ashtons’ ambassadors arrive in their post.
Will they have enough courtesy and patience for what still are the Ambassadors of sovereign European nations ? I had in a place like Beijing already sometimes moments of doubt.
Brussel’s centralizing and power expansion, both in Commission and Parliament, are sometimes going too far. In stead of making the EU ambassadors into the local EU “super ambassador”, a more modest proposal for closer cooperation of the embassies in Beijing could be followed (see “Europe’’s “Rayonnement” here below ).
Even quiet Monsieur Jean-Claude Trichet of the European Central Bank had his moment of arrogance against Slovakia (see Dalibor Rohac in EUobserver 10 september) when that nation refused to participate in the Greek bailout. M Trichet felt that Slovakia was setting a bad example and he intimated that if future euro membership applicants might “do something like that” in the future, the ECB would not support their accession. This talking-down to sovereign nations will henceforth not be taken so easily.
Less ”imperial” attitudes are needed both in in Brussels and in Washington. In Brussels internally, namely over its member nations, and in Washington externally, namely with respect to its NATO allies.
Our little foray in french party politics gave us a nice moment when in the RIF’s convention a well-done commemoration of General Pierre-Marie Gallois took place. General Gallois was one of RIF’s founding supporters, and is widely known as the “uncle” of the French nuclear power, and a great French personality. In one past situation – the Yugoslav conflict -, I too was privileged to have a working relationship with General Gallois (together with others like Dr Zarko Papic, Prof Ivan Djuric, Faik Dizdarevic, Serdjan Kerim) and to appreciate him also as a very courteous and entertaining guest. Un grand’homme.