FOR FURTHER DETAILS:
Dirk De Backer - Spokesperson of the President -
+32 (0)2 281 9768 - +32 (0)497 59 99 19
Jesús Carmona - Deputy Spokesperson of the President
+32 (0)2 281 9548 / 6319 - +32 (0)475 65 32 15
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - internet:
Munich, 5 February 2011 PCE 029/11
Herman Van Rompuy
President of the European Council
at the 47th Munich Security Conference
"Towards a Euro Atlantic Security Community "
UPPORTING THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
We are speaking this morning about our community of security in the Euro-Atlantic Area. Obviously, everybody's focus is more on the Euro-Mediterranean area... For good reason, what happens there will affect us all. History is on the move, right at Europe's southern borders. A common approach between Europe and America is key. Yesterday, the leaders of Member States of the European Union made clear that we stand behind the Egyptian people in its legitimate struggle for political rights, social justice and economic development. Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Cameron also emphasised it this morning. An orderly and expeditious transition should begin right now. We witness a moment of truth for our southern neighbourhood. And although the whole world is watching, Europe will be the first to feel the consequences, whatever those may be. We do not know all the answers and cannot predict the outcome right now; it would be foolish to pretend so. However, we should at least try and get the terms of the event right. So let me offer a few remarks. Later this year will mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Back then, it seemed the beginning of a new period. Supposedly an era of violence and tensions between the West and Muslim countries. The amazing events of the past weeks change the picture. They do not fit in the post-9-11 frame. The protests in Tunis, Cairo or last year in Teheran are not about religion. No, the protesters' aspirations are familiar to young men and women all over the world: jobs and justice, a say in their country's politics, the right to speak. We witness no extremism, no clash of civilizations, but an episode in the timeless fight for freedom and justice.
A second remark. In my view the world has changed a lot more than we think. Is it not remarkable that Central and Eastern European countries achieved democracy without civil war? That in the end, South-Africa cast off apartheid without violence? And is it not very heartening that all this happened beyond the Cold-War-style control of any global power? We must hope and work that the events in Tunisia and Egypt follow a similar course. Some doubt whether human progress is possible. It is. We not only witness change: we are witnessing progress, human progress. A third remark. The events in Tunisia and Egypt remind all of us that stability can lead to immobility. Betting on stability alone therefore can not be the ultimate answer. There is a difference between stability and sustainability. The latter has its foundations in economic results and social justice, in freedom and democracy. A political system which does not allow for peaceful change will remain weak at heart. I think this realisation deserves more attention in our foreign policies, in our expectations, ... and not only in the Middle East. A fourth remark. Even if the "ingredients" for a revolt are all there, one never knows when the bottle will be "uncorked", when "enough is enough". So if people notice that some political actors have been "taken by surprise" by events in Tunisia and Egypt, that is beside the point. Of course they were. We ALL were. Revolts are as unpredictable as earthquakes. A fifth and final remark. The cyber security session of this conference was shortened in order to allow for a discussion on the situation in the Arab world, and rightly so. But the two issues are linked! The events in Tunisia and Egypt, and the role played by Facebook and social networks, show once more how all modern societies live by the grace of a free flow of goods, people and information. Cyber attacks must therefore be resisted. The U.S. and Europe are both so deeply embedded in global networks that we must do this together. That's why at the EU-US Summit of last November, we decided to develop our cooperation on cyber security. Now, going from how to read the events, to what we do now. How do we, as European Union, as close partners react? That's what we decided yesterday, with all 27.
· We want to help channel the energies that are flowing in the streets of Cairo in the direction
of a peaceful transition towards a pluralist democracy. Seeing with how much restraint people demonstrate, this is possible. If a conducive environment is built, dialogue can lead to change. Europe and the US should work together on this.
· We need to help to create social and economic opportunities, for instance through trade or
investment, and help create the environment for free enterprise instead of crony capitalism. This is key for a region where millions of men and women suffer from a lack of education, a lack of jobs, a lack of perspective. The European Union is committed to a new partnership with those countries in the region pursuing political and economic reforms.
· There are questions also: How can we be a force for reform and rule of law? What role do
we give to our democratic values and human rights?
Let me add another consideration. If we do not deal at the global scale with the issue of food supplies and food prices, a new democratic regime will not last very long. The French initiative in the G20 therefore is vital.
A final one. Even if "pluralism" is almost identical to "democracy", it is useful to keep underlining this aspect. A democracy is more than free and fair elections: it entails good governance, human rights and the openness to all religions and convictions. To those who fear that free elections are the royal road to fundamentalism, I say: not necessarily so. History repeats itself, but never in the same manner. What we in the US and in Europe will do can make a difference. Before offering further thoughts on the global role of the European Union, I must confess, in front of this audience, that -- although I had many discussions with world leaders -- my work in the first twelve months as President of the European Council has been mostly about the stability of the Eurozone. This is vital for our "Euro-Atlantic security community" as well. I cannot stress enough that the euro is not just about economic expertise, financial frameworks or monetary matters. The euro is a political project. It is always also about foreign policy, about peace and security. Today I will not go into the details of the momentous decisions we have taken in strengthening the euro's economic foundations. Let's just say that we have done what we had to do, both to prevent another debt crisis and to be able to deal with one. The euro is a stable and strong currency. It also contributes to global monetary stability. On today's global stage, economic strength is the largest factor in potential political weight. The world's "multi-polarity" is a function of economic power more than of military power.As Walter Rathenau said 90 years ago: "Die Wirtschaft ist unser Schicksal", the economy is our fate. The European Union is the biggest single market in the world, we still produce about 22 percent of the world's GDP, and we have a population of 500 million people who are about the best-educated in the world. Yet it is no secret that we could do more to translate this financial and economic clout into political influence. The new tools of the Lisbon Treaty, including an External Action Service (i.e.,a European diplomatic service)and the reinforced post of High Representative, are in place now. A common foreign policy is not about speaking with a single voice, but about giving the same key messages. Like we did the last two weeks on Egypt: many voices, one coherent message. The Internal Market is the EU's main leverage towards the outside world. For our partners, access to the world's biggest market is a serious 'carrot'; exclusion from it is a serious stick. The Union is a major trading power, but not only that. In June we decided upon substantial sanctions against Iran -- something which was not evident only weeks before that. We have worked closely with the U.S. in this respect. The Euro-Atlantic community is strongly united in addressing regional proliferation crises. Iran is one example, North Korea being another one. The EU remains the world's top donor in efforts trying to improve global nuclear security.
The EU's contribution to crisis management and conflict prevention is proven by the almost two dozen civilian missions and military operations undertaken so far. As we speak, the EU works shoulder to shoulder with NATO in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Kosovo, along the Somali coast and in Afghanistan. We are in Afghanistan for the long haull. In our Euro-Atlantic Security Communtiy, EU and NATO should develop a true strategic partnership, without discriminating among NATO allies or EU member states. Cybersecurity is one such field for practical cooperation. Concluding with where we started: the European Union's credibility as a global actor starts in our neighbourhood. In our southern neighbourhood and in the eastern one. Many former eastern neighbours have become members of our club. Others will join us. As long as a club has candidate members, it is on the right track. I am thinking in particular about the Western Balkans. Without the European perspective, stability and even peace are not guaranteed. An accession treaty with Croatia will probably be signed this year,
Montenegro is a candidate and Serbia is preparing its candidacy. Turkey is also a candidate
country negotiating its accession. In the meantime, we should not wait to develop a close partnership. It is good to meet as a Euro-Atlantic Security Community. Some people say that the EU and Europe are no longer relevant for the US. Well, since the end of the Cold War we are no longer a problem. That is true. However, in Europe, some people look more to China and less to the US too. The essential fact is this: Europe and America are the Motherland of democracy. In the G20, almost all members are democracies. Now that we are winning in the battle for ideas, we must keep working together.