April 28, 2008
The Atlantic Review has a useful mesh-up on France’s defence policy. France has signaled over the past few months that it may pursue reintegration into the NATO command structure, which President Charles de Gaulle left in 1966. The more positive reading of this policy shift is that after re-integration Europe will be stronger within NATO to influence American policy. The more negative reading is that France may be a Trojan horse and eventually would like to break out with the desired European defence alliance with the rest of Europe from NATO.
Last Saturday Hungary’s premier daily newspaper, N?pszabads?g ran a long interview with Mr. B?rdos-F?ltoronyi, a retired professor of the Catholic University of Leuven and expert on this field. (Probably this interview is not as important as the collection in the Atlantic Review but it is not available in English). Mr. B?rdos-F?ltoronyi claims that the Commission has made huge undercover steps under the command of Javier Solana, a former NATO secretary-general, especially in coordinated planning that showed its limited results in Kosovo, Chad and Lebanon. He believes that once Airbus will be able to produce independent air transport capacities for Europe the strength of this cooperation will be even more visible. However, in his view will never lead to an independent European defence system. In his view this would mean that it can resist claims and threats from the US or Russia which would require infinite resources and would bear little fruit.
I think the international debate on France’s future role in NATO and in the EU defence structure is a bit balanced. While the Western commenter puts more emphasis on getting some leverage over American policy-making or building up a credible exit threat, for Central European EU members their NATO membership is not only a political tool, but a real military alliance that should prevent regional insecurity, wars, civil wars, and excessive Russian influence on their sovereign states. Should the issue of France’s return to NATO become over-politicized, you can expect a similar reaction to the European-American visa talks: Central Europeans will feel that the fight for global political influence leaves them hostage between America and Russia with an indifferent EU, and they will walk out and make deals en bloc with the United States.? Or with Russia, as it happened with the gas pipelines.Dániel Antal