EU-US ties in "vicious circle"

29.09.03 @ 07:51

  1. By Richard Carter

Former US Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, says that current transatlantic relations are currently in a dangerous "vicious circle".

In an interview with German news magazine, Der Spiegel, Ms Albright - who served as US Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, says, "There have always been times when anti-American feeling has grown in Europe and times when anti-European feeling has grown in the US".

"But when both these trends happen at the same time, you have a vicious circle. This is exactly what has happened now".

"It is disgraceful to see how Europeans take pleasure over the chaos in Iraq, or the recent black-out in the US. Should we also be delighted that 10,000 French people died in the summer heatwave?"

Both sides to blame

However, in terms of the source of the most recent row - the differences of opinion on how to proceed in Iraq earlier this year, Ms Albright shares out the blame equally. She says, "President Chirac made the situation unbelievably complicated. In reality, both sides prevented the UN from having a significant role before the war - President Bush because he was always saying, 'I don't care what is said there' and President Chirac because he was always saying, 'I am going to use my veto whatever happens'".

EU is no counterweight

Despite this, Ms Albright - who was born in Prague and fled to the US after the war - does not believe that Europe can be a useful counterweight to American hegemony.

"Naturally the US has more power now than any other nation in the history of mankind. That brings responsibility with it. We must keep control of ourselves. Europe is no counterweight".

The American 'catch-22'

But Ms Albright also makes the point that America is criticised whatever foreign policy it adopts. She says, "If the US takes a strong role, we are criticised; if we do nothing, we are deserting our responsibilities. At times, it is not easy being the United States".

Turkey should be in the EU

On the controversial question of Turkish membership of the EU, Ms Albright appears to have strong views in favour of Turkish adhesion. She declares, in a seperate interview with the Suddeutsche Zeitung, "I have always criticised the EU for not working harder with Turkey because I feel that Turkey should be brought into the EU. You do not have to be completely a part of Europe to be part of Europe".

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