Weber’s call for a ‘force de frappe’

Last Updated on Thursday, 1 February, 2024 at 3:37 pm by Andre Camilleri

Last week I wrote about the appalling statement of  the president of the European Commission and the narrative at the World Economic Forum. The article referred to von der Leyen’s lousy speech, and her reference to the priorities of businesses in the coming two years, which by the looks of it, are not climate change and conflict any longer, but the digital space. Utterly nonsense. Indeed, I stated that the narrative is shifting because those who created this mess in Europe, including von der Leyen, are worried that Europe will be left alone if things shift on the other side of the Atlantic. The narrative is shifting as a means of deterrence. And President von der Leyen is a manipulative expert in trying to twist the political discourse, so she is not to blame.

For the benefit of my readers, my article was written and submitted on Tuesday late evening. However, little I knew that on Thursday morning I would be coming across Manfred Weber’s statement; another German and an EPP politician. Sincerely, I could not believe what I was reading. I literally spat my first sip of coffee. At that point I said, look who came out of the woodwork. Isn’t he the leader of the European Peoples’ Party, who came to Malta for a speech in 2017, and nobody understood anything. Weber stated with Politico that Europe must be prepared for an eventual war with Russia if the US elects the Republicans and the former POTUS. Seriously, what are these people on about?

Let’s put things into perspective. Before I left Brussels, and the Political Security Committee of the EU, the narrative was purely built on dialogue and diplomacy. Not even a month passed since my departure from the Political and Security Committee, and I started hearing a complete opposite narrative. Literally, everything tilted to the opposite direction. Instead of diplomacy we observed irresponsible and divisive narratives. Instead of dialogue we saw two actors racing against each other on who will be the first to shake hands with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Nothing was making sense. True, Russia invaded Ukraine. And I am against the invasion in its totality. I am not in favour of Russia. However, I am against the war. When I was asked how I would have unblocked the situation, I cited article 42.7 of the Treaty of Lisbon. Ukraine should have been guaranteed its security under the Lisbon Treaty, specifically under Article 42.7 of the Lisbon of Treaty, which is almost equivalent to Article 5 of NATO. The technicalities are easy to be understood. If Ukraine is attacked, it would be guaranteed collective defence and assistance under the Lisbon Treaty, given that it is not a NATO member. Just like the case of Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, and Malta. And the EU could have easily accelerated its accession attaching security to its EU path.

True, an independent state must choose its path and which military side they must take, or for all it takes which institution they must be part of, including the security architecture. However, when a country shares a border with a dictatorship, we must tread carefully. And this is not just for the benefit of the countries bordering dictators, but also for the sake of the European continent, unless Europe decides to go for a war to eliminate dictators. Well, even Stalin was a dictator. However, the West forgave what happened under his rule, the people who went missing, and the atrocities that unfolded in the Gulag camps. After World War 2,  Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill met in Yalta Crimea to agree on an understanding and the principles that will be holding afterwards. The principles were clear. The West and Russia are distinct. In fact, the Russian Foreign Minster, Sergey Lavrov cites NATO’s indivisibility concept in Europe’s security architecture, which extends to different agreements that unfolded thereafter. The argument is that NATO must not expand towards Russia’s borders, even though we already have EU countries part of NATO bordering Russia.

So, Manfred Weber is proposing to the EU to revisit France’s proposal “force de frappe” which means building nuclear capabilities equivalent to what France expanded in 1961 and use them as a means of deterrence against Russia. In all honesty, I am lost for words. Before leaving Brussels, everyone was cheerful for those countries singing and ratifying the NPT Treaty. The NPT Treaty relates to the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons. In 2015, Helga Schmid, a German diplomat, who is currently the Secretary General of the OSCE, and who I had the opportunity to encounter in our meetings in her former role of Secretary General of the EEAS, worked truly hard on reaching an agreement with Iran on the JCPOA. The JCPOA is commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. It relates to Iran’s agreement with the P5+1 on their nuclear programme. This means, that when the IAEA would be asking for inspection, they would not be taken seriously, unless Europe is foreseeing to purchase water enrichment from Iran.

Politically, the EU is losing its diplomatic leverage. They already lost their diplomatic and political leverage with Azerbaijan, as they are dependent on their LNG. Did the EU propose targeted measures or sanctions against Ilham Aliyev, and his closest allies, for pushing and sweeping Armenians out of Nagorno-Karabakh? No, they did not. Why? Because the EU lost all its diplomatic leverage. The same is happening in Gaza, and other third countries. So, my advice is to not trust those within the EPP who are promoting a war. I am not comfortable reading what is currently happening. Such a narrative is opening a can of worms, and it is giving our opponents more political manoeuvre. Surely, if I am given the opportunity to serve the people, my electoral pledge is that I would be doing anything to prevent the start of a war. We do not want wars. We want peace and economic progress.    

Lastly, if President von der Leyen and her closest allies within the EPP family, are prepared to go for a war with Russia, then my proposal to them is to send their children to fight the war. After all, the way the Marshall Plan was devised, played a key role in Germany’s recovery after the World War 2. We were only left impoverished. We learned the lesson. We said never again!  

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