Back Under Solana’s Wings — What Herb Thinks

The EU’s first High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, suddenly found himself standing in the middle of a great, big brawl. The 15 heads he was hired to represent in common foreign policy began fighting among themselves over the issue of war with Iraq.

As I said before, up to this point things were going well for Solana. The foreign policy course he had set for the EU in the Balkans proved so successful the EU head’s were now asking him to turn his diplomatic skills to solving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

That’s when it all began coming apart for Solana. When America requested European support for an Iraqi war, the 15 EU heads he represented scattered out from under the wings of his common foreign policy like chickens frightened by a firecracker.

Solana’s first reaction was to stay quiet and watch. It didn’t take him long, however, to find a safe line to walk on the Iraqi issue and still end up where he wanted to go. He called the evidence that Secretary of State Colin Powell provided to prove Saddam Hussein was still hiding weapons of mass destruction irrefutable. But, he said the matter was up to the UN Security Council, not Washington, to resolve.

Once again Solana was successful in finding that common ground. But, by now his 15 EU heads were too angry with each other to listen to him. So, realizing the EU’s entire common foreign and security policy was at risk, the Greek EU presidency agreed to call for an emergency summit where Solana could present his common ground.

At the beginning of the summit Solana addressed the 15 heads. Solana presented what he thought were there basic points where they could all agree. Read about it here.

Solana’s first point: Saddam Hussein had to be disarmed.

Second point: The UN, not Washington, should be the one to do it.

Third point: The role of the inspectors is fundamental and should be supported.

After Solana presented his three points to the 15 heads, the emergency summit began. And, I could hardly wait to see what they would decide. Finally a statement was issued. Read it here. And, as I expected, the 15 heads agreed to all three of Solana’s points. Here’s some of the official declaration. Regarding Solana’s first point, it says:

We are determined to deal effectively with the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Regarding Solana’s second point, it says:

We are committed to the United Nations remaining at the center of the international order. We recognize that the primary responsibility for dealing with Iraqi disarmament lies with the (U.N.) Security Council.

And regarding Solana’s third point, it says:

We reiterate our full support for the ongoing work of U.N. inspectors. They must be given the time and resources that the U.N. Security Council believes they need.

The EU heads, however, did manage a point or two of their own. For example, they warned, “However, inspections cannot continue indefinitely in the absence of full Iraqi cooperation.” And they added, “The European Union reiterates its firm belief in the need to invigorate the peace process in the Middle East and to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict.”

So, once again, Solana’s diplomacy may have saved the day. With the EU’s new common foreign and security policy on the verge of collapse, Solana found a line that all 15 heads could walk and still end up where he wanted them to be.

They’re back under Solana’s wings.

— Herb Peters
2/18/03