Christmas Letter 0712 (per 071220)
Those who earlier subscribed to the Yahoo group Voices of Europe newsletter have undoubtedly noticed that the letter comes rarely, and does not intrude upon your time. That is indeed what we planned. Only from time to time we brief you on our intended or finished activities.
True to the idea that the future work is more important than the past we start with
WORK TO DO
Ø The European Constitution returned. The gnomes of Brussels with the help of the German EU – Chairmanship and the submission of many other European Governments, (praise be to the exceptions ofthe United Kingdom and Poland) have played their tricks. But will the outcome be according to their wishes ? The European “modifying treaty” (“traite modificatif“) is a topic on which a website with the name of Voices-of-Europe could not remain silent. Could we have done more than we did over the 2007 summer months? We sought advice with a trusted expert the former Euro parliamentarian Georges Berthu who gave us a few hints. His amplified comments we received however this week thanks to “Liberte Politique” (……….)
In order to judge whether we, or indeed anybody else, -even the member governments – could have done more, let us simply look at a few dates how the European Union and our governments haves stole a march upon everybody
o Since the so-called reflection period(may 2005 – may 2006) did not bring forward solutions, the European Council in june 2006 asked Germany to use its Chairmanship (first half of 2007) to dress up a report on a possible solution.
o The Germans worked in secret with a few relatively unknown correspondents from the various member countries and produced on 14 june 2007 their report, in fact a stron recommendation for a quick convening of a n Intergovernmental Conference.
o How quick ? The Germans left the governments 5 days to think it over, and on june 19 followed up with a draft mandate for the intended Intergovernmentasl Conference. This mandate was not just to give general directions but practically contained the whole specific text from the earlier botched Constitution. We shall not go into details of modifications, but limit ourselves to the procedure and the stringent timing
o The governments, adopted the german produced mandate three days later on june 22,
o And then, only one month later, the CIG was convened.
What does list of dates over the summer of this year show ? It shows that the Constitution, demurely and modestly dressed up as a “modifying treaty” was pushed through. There was no debate in the member countries and no open negotiation between them. The time simply was not there.
What will the reaction of a tricked public of many nations be once they realize that they have been tricked ? Perhaps they will seek press their governments to claim for a “Luxemburg Compromise” like President de Gaulle of France once claimed for France on the European Community when important or vital issues of a nation are at stake. There is also a possibility that serval nations will press for a referendum. (For the Netherlands see http://www.wijwillenreferendum.eu )
What do non European countries have to think of this ? Will they think that a “Europe Pouvoir” is now arriving ? Power is weak if it gboes at the expense of the cohesion and the general will of member states . Power in the world can never come as the result of a palace intrigue imposed from above on the nations.
Ø Pope Benedict’s Regensburg Lecture which very effectively (particularly counting secondary effects, after a few months of turbulent misunderstandings had passed) sets the scene for a rational dialogue with Islam. Where we can we would like to be helpful (– “quantum potes tantum aude” !) We hope to be careful and think the matter over with as many friends as we can find. Our input might address the notion that “dialogue” needs also “distance”. There cannot be true interest curiosity, sympathy and willigness for dialogue if there is also not a respectful distance.. If two families have to share a kitchen, daily dialogue will suffer.
Such a notion of“Dialogue and Distance” would be translated in several ways including the following two:
o stricter control of immigration, with an increased effort towasrds development and coherence of the policies of African government. On occasion we have offered respectful suggestions to councils of bishops (France, the USA ) or the Pontifical Commmission on Migration. You will find traces on the website
o develop with Turkey a priovileged partnership, as an alternative to full accession to the decision making levels of and full entry into the European Union.
(on the Turkish question you will find several contributions, including a recent analysis of a publication of the French government financed Fondation Robert Schuman. The authors were given much liberty and came up with surprising criticims on the way our politicians have handled these matters in the last 40 years. The Foundation however now seems to shrink back from any political involvement of this nature. Perhaps they got cold feet. But they need not, since President Sarkozy so far keeps true to his election promises. Howver we have to watch at proposition 50 of the “Balladur committee ” and stay vigilant.
Ø Alternatives to mass immigration, Mass migration was earlier proposed for Europe as a measure to adapt our societies to shrinking populations. We think howver that in the last half century our government leadersleaders have been very neglectful in any guidance on a range of the options which are before us. Therefore too many of those prime ministers and international institutions (United nations, World Bank etc) came with the idea that Europe should import big cohorts of younger people from outside Europe , to stabilize our social insurance systems. No thought at all was given to other options. We hope to scout very broadly for alternatives and shall invite our readers to shoot at them or contribute to them. Our list is growing, and would indicate that in our Western societies we may have deep and wide adaptations to make.
Ø Kosovo. We stand for the idea that Serbia should keep sovereignty over Kosovo Metohija and might increase its standing in the world on that matter by other forms of leadership and cooperation like:
- Serbia , retaining foreign affairs sovereignty could seek and arrange for considerable foreign investments for the development of Kosovo. Perhaps from China which has ample financial means and a need for raw materials. Or perhaps from Russia which is already politically in support of Serbia.
- If the Albanians make auto-proclamation, will President Putin send his troops to Pristina? Under the old NATO-Yeltsin understanding it seems to be possible. We would applaud, even while in general we put great value to our alliance with the USA. The load of past American mistakes in Balkan policies will however have to be assumed.
- Serbia could also promote that Christian monasteries in western and central Europe (for instance the highly respected Benedictines of Chevetogne in Belgium) would be welcome as guests in the orthodox monasteries in Kosovo-Metohija.The presence of a few western monks would be a strong sign of solidarity, a margin of guaranty. Western Europe would gain by having a few highly qualified observers in this field on location for the difficult years ahead. Even if Serbia may be pressed by America into abdication on its sovereignty over Kosovo Metohija, Europe cannot forget the historical role of the region in its long history and its responsibilities.
(on this matter of Kosovo Metohija you will find a delightful persiflage made by our editor Gerard Hannezo, imagining putting the country of Serbia into the Dardanelles, and in this way in one fell swoop eliminate the irritating “rogue state” Serbia, and by closing the Dardanelles, would make Turkey geographically part of Europe)
Ø Contacts with non-european countries. the case of Asia We intend to give in the future more attention to relations with the non–European world. Africa is a must, also in view of the migration flows which are still uncontrolled and which need a cordial cooperation in depth between Europe and the African countries. . Asia is another priority, and we hope to use a few privileged links which we have with China, Thailand and Indonesia But before considering any concrete ways of cooperation the first need is for closer understanding, reflection on our identities, our history and our future. In this effort you might take a look at two short “meditations”
o ” Two Old Trees; China and Europe “ which tends to show that Europe and China are equally old as cultures, but differently old.)
o another small piece “Li Matou” remembers Matteo Ricci who launched what so far has been the most successful cultural encounter between the Western world and China.
- A more concrete venue for cooperation with Asia might become possible in the field of environment protection and possibilities for a mutually profitable. “Carbon trade” . We have a close association with the Chinese Carbon Forum in Beijing , an association of professionals (accountants, engineers, miners, economists, bankers) who engage in the international carbon trade. The two heads of the Euro-Asian continent , Europe and China, are linked by a shared interest. Europe because it has so far the most developed “cap and trade” policies in the world, and China because it has an enormous reservoir of ecological disasters which call for solutions. While the technical part of solutions may come from anywhere in the world, the European system opens the possibility that European enterprises which face great costs for any improvement they might have to do at home, could realize an equivalent CO2 reduction taking on a project in China.
Ø Monitoring our Euro-parliamentarians In the domain of the institutions of the European Union, we have developed a few initial ideas on putting more surveillance on our euro parliamentarians. Ideally we might even aim more broadly and include national parliament net but the Parliament of Europe may be a good starting point if we can find an institution (or a network) willing to undertake the monitoring of votes and other statements expressed by members of the European Parliament. We feel impelled to such an initiative since several members of the European Parliament, once elected by their constituencies have often shown a great neglect of the wishes of their electorate on matters like migration, negotiations with Turkey, and many more. They need to be sanction and not be re-elected The Buttiglione case was highly significant of europarliament misbehavior. Some europarliamentarisn took even pride in their rejection of Buttiglione, jubilant that the Parliament had gained another increase in power over the Commission. During our many years spent in Washington we have occasion to see how actively American institutions can monitor the work of American Senators and Congressmen. While we recognize that not all institutions lend themselves to be translated into other regions we think that a monitoring system could keep our Euro parliamentarians closer to their task and to mandate and would be highly needed. We are scouting among associations and institutions. We would welcome comments. This issue is of more importance if the Modifying Treaty should be put in effect, because then the pressures toward more federalist behavior of Commission, Governments and the European Parliament would certainly also increase and would need counterbalance in vigilant monitoring institutions.
o If we should not find such and agency in time for the 2009 Europarliament elections we may have to do with other ways formulating recommendations and rejections. But we highly prefer to keep criteria objective and measurably, not taken out of thin blue air. Shall we find such agency or a network of cooperating agencies ? In this case the American example should inspire us., It is highly effective.
WE HOPE THAT THE LIST OF THINGS-TO-DO may have your active support and criticism.
With kind regards and best wishes for Christmas and New Year
Anton Smitsendonk (courriel)