- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003

One big EU familyDiplomats from Europe last night called for better relations with the United States, as they celebrated the expansion of the European Union in grand style at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington.Greek Ambassador George Savvaides, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said the new union of 25 countries will be a “stronger partner” of the United States.The union, which could not agree on a common foreign policy, was split over the war in Iraq. France and Germany led the opposition to the U.S. policy of military action, and most of the new members supported the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. French President Jacques Chirac was so exasperated at one point that he told the new members to “shut up.”Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld best characterized the dispute when he called the opponents the “old Europe” and the supporters, mostly countries long dominated by the Soviet Union, the “new Europe.”But last night, the ambassadors from the expanded union talked about unity.”We sincerely believe that an enlarged European Union — more cohesive and more effective in terms of its institutions and policies and more harmonious in expressing its common voice — will be considered by the United States as a stronger partner and more valid interlocutor in world affairs,” Mr. Savvaides said.”There is an equal need for the U.S. and the EU to remain mutually respected partners.”The Greek ambassador noted that the leaders of the 25 countries approved the expansion yesterday in Athens, “under the shadow of the Acropolis … the eternal symbol of Western civilization.”“This enlargement constitutes a real milestone in European history,” Mr. Savvaides said. “It will certainly have a lasting impact on future European generations.”He also predicted that this expansion is not “the end of the road.” Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey are seeking to join, and nations of the former Yugoslavia also are interested.Mr. Savvaides said the new members are assured of a “harmonious and secure future” and a “political decision-making in European and international affairs.”A “greater union”The ambassadors of the enlarged European Union yesterday pledged to create stronger bonds between Europe and the United States and work for “global stability.”In an open letter released yesterday, they said, “All member-states of the EU have strong traditional bonds with the United States, and America has deep roots in Europe.”We should take advantage of that affiliation and of the opportunity to make the relationship between the EU and U.S. even stronger and more influential. … Europe will need to continue to develop its common foreign and defense policy and become, alongside the United States, a force for global stability and progress in a mutually beneficial partnership.”In the letter, titled “A Greater Union for Europe,” they said the expanded European Union is a “new political order which marks the end of the division of Europe into two hostile blocs following World War II.”“The dream of European integration, shared by the United States, is now being realized, leaving behind us the wasteful era of wars, hostility and inequalities,” they said.”We are on the road to a Europe enjoying a unity and influence without precedent in its long history.”The letter was signed by ambassadors from the old members: Peter Moser of Austria, Frans Van Daele of Belgium, Ulrik Andreas Federspiel of Denmark, Jukka Valtasaari of Finland, Jean-David Levitte of France, Wolfgang Ischinger of Germany, George Savvaides of Greece, Noel Fahey of Ireland, Sergio Vento of Italy, Arlette Conzemius of Luxembourg, Boudewijn Van Eenennaam of the Netherlands, Pedro Catarino of Portugal, Javier Ruperez of Spain, Jan Eliasson of Sweden and Guenter Burghardt of the European Commission. Anthony Brenton, charge d’affaires at the British Embassy, signed for the United Kingdom.It also was signed by ambassadors from the new members: Erato Kozakou Marcoullis of Cyprus, Martin Palous of the Czech Republic, Sven Jurgenson of Estonia, Andras Simonyi of Hungary, Aivis Ronis of Latvia, Vygaudas Usackas of Lithuania, John Lowell of Malta, Przemyslaw Grudzinski of Poland, Martin Butora of the Slovak Republic and Davorin Kracun of Slovenia.

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