Dr. Hans Köchler

Professor of Philosophy, University of Innsbruck (Austria)

U.S.-European Relations after the End of the East-West Conflict: Implications for Euro-Mediterranean Co-operation

Paper presented at the North-South Mediterranean Symposion

"Partnership or Dissociation"

Baghdad, 28-30 October 1997



(I) The strategic situation during and after the Cold War

(II) The consequences for European policies in the Mediterranean

(III) Future prospects of North-South relations in regard to Europe’s Mediterranean policies

(IV) Conclusion: Principles of Euro-Mediterranean co-operation

© by International Progress Organization, Vienna, 199
7. All rights reserved.



The strategic situation during and after the Cold War

The Cold War period

The international strategic situation in the Cold War period after 1945 was characterized by a bipolar power structure along the lines of the East-West rivalry. European politics – whether in the West or in the East – were a function of this major struggle in terms of power politics. The member states of the European Community (EC) defined their own strategies exclusively in regard to the Western alliance led by the United States. Europe’s[1] self-definition as part of the Western bloc determined its Mediterranean policies. Those policies reflected the superpower rivalry along the ideological divide between capitalism and communism. The European Community acted within this strategic-ideological framework, which was mainly structurized by the EC (now EU) countries’ membership in NATO. It is to be noted, however, that the degree of “integration” into the Western bloc’s strategies varied considerably as could be seen in the case of Greece that has always followed a distinct Mediterranean  policy vis-à-vis its Arab neighbours along the southern shore of the Mediterranean.

The strategic situation since the 1990s (The “New World Order”)

This strategic constellation has drastically changed with the disappearance of one element of the Cold War’s power equation: the Socialist bloc. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the bipolar power structure on the global level has been replaced by a monopolar  structure in favour of the United States as the self-declared guardian of a “New World Order” and leader of the dominating “West.”[2] As the “survivor” in the global power struggle, the US claims for itself special rights and privileges also vis-à-vis its allies such as Europe. It is noteworthy that the relations between the industrialized countries of the North and the developing countries of the South have acquired a totally new quality because of the absence of competition among the countries of the North – as it previously existed along the capitalist-socialist divide – for influence in the economic, ideological, political and military field. The developing countries of the South are now confronted with one single power center (more or less), a fact which has drastically reduced their space of action in the global arena, and particularly in the United Nations.

As far as Europe is concerned, this new global constellation has prevented the European Union (EU) from giving political weight to its economic strategies. Although the European Union, based on the Treaty of Maastricht, has made further steps towards economic and political integration, it still does not come out as a really independent player in world politics. The present global constellation in favour of the United States as the only remaining superpower after the East-West conflict inevitably marginalizes Europe as a merely regional power center without global reach. A multipolarity of power centers has not emerged as yet. Such a global structure may be a long time away if we take into consideration Europe’s repeated failures since 1989 to jointly address major international crises as they evolved in the Gulf in 1990/1991, on the territory of former Yugoslavia, or presently in occupied Palestine. In all cases, it was the United States that seized the initiative and imposed its solutions upon a European Union that was not even able to agree on the basic principles to solve these issues and that could not stand up against the overwhelming military, logistic and communication power of the United States.

 Generally speaking, the European defense policies, even when it comes to long-term strategies, are still embedded in the US-shaped defense doctrine of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Europe has not yet asserted itself as a genuine partner of the United States on an equal footing; it still sees itself as an annex to American security policy. This attitude came out very clearly in a speech of German Defense Minister Volker Rühe at the Munich Conference on Security Policy (4 February 1995) when he explained European political and strategic thinking and stated that Europe “must take account of all risks and opportunities that are important for Europe’s future and at the same time affect vital Euro-American interests.”[3] An identity of US and European interests seems to be implied in the German Defense Minister’s analysis, which is typical of the present state of Europe’s self-definition in regard to its position in the global power play. Similarly, then Secretary of Defense in the British Government, Malcolm Rifkind, stated in an article on “Europe and the USA: An Atlantic Community”[4] that on basic issues of world politics and threats to international security today “the interests of Europe and North America are at one.” He characterized the relationship of the United States to Europe as an “Atlantic relationship with the nations who share its instincts.” Those “instincts,” according to Mr. Rifkind, relate to the “four pillars” of the Atlantic community, namely (1) the rule of law and parliamentary democracy, (2) liberal capitalism and free trade, (3) a shared European cultural heritage, and (4) common interests in the fields of security and defense. It goes without saying that those advocates of American-European co-operation in the framework of European dependency on the US view all efforts or tendencies towards the expansion of the European Union – to include former Warsaw Pact member countries of Eastern Europe – as a threat to American hegemony and as something that would be detrimental to US-European co-operation in general. In this analysis, the “declared policy of expanding and deepening European integration is accompanied by [...] a weakening of links between Western Europe and the USA.”[5] Any move towards European emancipation from its “historical” post-World War II-alliance with the United States is viewed with suspicion and described as detrimental to the strategic position of the West as such. In this context, it is obvious that the Western European Union (WEU) has not been allowed to develop into an independent European defense structure that in future would be able to replace NATO in Europe. The WEU from the very beginning has been a “paper tiger,” a fiction of European defense under the umbrella of US military hegemony.[6]



The consequences for European policies in the Mediterranean

Because of this geopolitical constellation – for which the former United States President George Bush invented the term “New World Order” – the strategic policies of Europe (as represented by the European Union) are defined within the context of NATO’s overall security doctrine. This is particularly true of Europe’s relations to its Southern neighbours, i.e. for its Mediterranean and Middle Eastern policies. Europe has de facto been obliged to define its strategies on the basis of NATO’s so-called “Mediterranean initiative,” which dwells in a perception of a strategic threat to European Security and in an enemy stereotype (regarding Islam and the Arabs) that is carefully being cultivated by the Western power center.

NATO’s Mediterranean initiative

Based on the communiqué of 1 December 1994, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) decided on 8 February 1995 “to initiate a direct dialogue with Mediterranean non-member countries,” selecting Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Mauritania and Morocco for this purpose.[7] German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel expressed full support of this initiative, which he located within the framework of “dialogue and cooperation with all neighbouring regions.”[8] In spite of the German Foreign Minister’s wish to have a dialogue with all neighbouring regions, it is to be noted that from the very beginning the supposed dialogue with the countries of the Southern Mediterranean has been fashioned on a selective, discriminatory and exclusionary basis that was later to be followed by the European countries’ own Mediterranean initiative. While certain countries were excluded by NATO from any form of dialogue – notably Syria and Libya –, others were praised for their standards compatible with Western democracy and the rule of law (even if the opposite was true in certain cases). This policy of double standards – which has been typical of the global discourse of the “New World Order” since the Gulf War – exposes NATO’s initiative as a post-Cold War strategy to create a new enemy stereotype after the demise of communism and the Soviet Union as the “center of evil.” Because of its exclusionary nature, such a “dialogue” only increases hostile attitudes and tensions in the region, instead of alleviating them and  creating a climate that is favourable for political and economic co-operation.

 That NATO has been instrumental in creating a new enemy stereotype for the West and that it has succeeded in “integrating” Europe into this doctrine of a so-called “new” NATO is becoming obvious from numerous policy statements of NATO officials and representatives of member states. In a Memorandum on “NATO’s Southern Flank” the British Ministry of Defense comments on the Defense Committee’s Third Report (1995-96). The Memorandum acknowledges the importance of NATO’s “Southern Flank” because of “inherent political instability, economic and religious tensions that set it apart from Western Europe.” The Memorandum concludes, in Par. 18, that “the real threat from the South arises from internal instability, which finds its expression in Islamic extremism.”[9] In an earlier analysis, the North Atlantic Assembly (NAA), in a report on “Co-operation and Security in the Mediterranean,” characterized the supposed threat in the following way: “The Islamic fundamentalist movement may prove to be the final catalyst of the multiple risks currently building up on the southern shore of the Mediterranean – population explosion, political instability, poverty and the proliferation of massive destruction weapons.”[10] This set the tone for concerted “ideological” efforts to construe a new Islamic threat as surrogate for the earlier communist threat. NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes spoke in 1995 of “the problems with regard to fundamentalism which are closely connected to the proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.”[11] At the meeting of NATO Defense Ministers in Seville/Spain (29-30 September 1994), US Secretary of Defense William Perry declared that NATO’s “main security front has swung away from Central Europe to its southern flank.”[12] He later justified NATO’s discriminatory doctrine of “partnership” when he stated, at the Munich Conference on Security Policy on 5 February 1995, that NATO should study the question of how to engage the “responsible” states of North Africa in a “security dialogue and relationship.”[13] In fact, NATO considers itself competent to expand its territory of operations and to deal with the Southern Mediterranean region as bluntly stated by the North Atlantic Assembly (NAA) in the Draft Interim Report of its Sub-Committee on the Southern Region (October 1995): “The Mediterranean falls within the NATO Treaty Area ...”[14] The Heads of State and Government of NATO, at their Summit in Madrid in July 1997, emphasized their commitment to “enhancing” the “Mediterranean dialogue.” They decided, for that purpose, to formally establish the “Mediterranean Cooperation Group,” a committee under the authority of NATO.[15]

 A position paper published in the NATO Review[16] comprehensively outlines this perception of a security threat that, to a large extent, seems to be the basis of Europe’s dealing with the Mediterranean within the NATO framework. The paper is entitled “Mediterranean security: new challenges, new tasks” and emphasizes the following points of a new assessment of Europe’s strategic situation: (–) “Europe could be increasingly exposed to the spillover of political violence from inter- and intra-state conflicts across the Middle East;” (–) the “greatest challenge” facing the NATO alliance is the question of “how to deal with the role of Islam and nationalism along the Mediterranean littoral” whereby the Mediterranean is pointed to as a “centre of conflict ... along civilizational lines” (apparently in reference to Samuel Huntington’s article on a supposed “clash of civilizations”)[17]; (–) “With the end of the Cold War ... the locus of risk has moved south, increasing the political weight of Southern Europe within allied councils and transatlantic organizations.”

 This new perception – identifying the Southern Mediterranean region as new threat and, thereby, redefining the raison d’être of NATO after the end of the East-West conflict – was expressed even more bluntly by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Affairs, Joseph Kruzel, in his speech at AFSOUTH (Allied Forces Southern Command) on 27 February 1995: “Today the real threat to European security comes not from the northern region, ... but [from] the south, where existing conflicts and potential for catastrophe are pervasive ... For NATO, the Mediterranean ... has become the front line for a variety of security issues ranging from the spread of extremism and uncontrolled migration to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction  ... .” In this context, the US official called for a kind of “Partnership for the Mediterranean” or “Partnership for the South.”[18] There is no doubt that this “partnership” is based on a new enemy stereotype relating to political structures in the Muslim and Arab world. So far, the US administration has succeeded in shaping NATO’s new strategy along those lines and in “integrating” Europe into the Western bloc of states supposedly threatened by Islam and the Arab world.

 Southern European member countries of NATO and of the EU, with the notable exception of Greece, have subscribed to this doctrine of a supposed threat from the South and formed, in November 1996, their own “Rapid Deployment Force” (EUROFOR) consisting of 20,000 soldiers and an associated maritime force (EUROMARFOR). This joint initiative of France, Italy, Portugal and Spain is definitely not compatible with a “spirit of co-operation and dialogue among the countries of the Northern and Southern coast of the Mediterranean” as critically stated in a declaration of the International Progress Organization.[19] As rightly stated by Sami Ali in his commentary, “all the countries contributing to EUROFOR have a colonial history,” which, to him, explains “why the peoples of North Africa see this as a sinister reminder of colonial ambitions.”[20]

 Special attention should be paid, in this context, to France’s role in shaping European policies vis-à-vis the Southern Mediterranean region. Because of the regrettable situation prevailing in Algeria – which evolved mainly as a result of interference in a legitimate democratic process –, France has become, to a certain extent, a party to internal conflicts in the Maghreb region. The tragic situation in Algeria is an exemplary case demonstrating the problematic nature of political interests of a former colonial power in the territory in question. The former colonial ruler cannot be the arbiter in local disputes. Its interference will generally intensify the conflict. In short: in the present case of Algeria, European policies are much more complicated because one of the EU’s most influential member countries is, at least indirectly, touched by the conflict.

In regard to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, it is again the involvement of the traditional “security partner” of Europe, the United States, that prevents the former from playing a constructive role in this particular region. The overwhelming US influence on the formulation of a European security policy and the US emphasis on Israel’s strategic interests jeopardizes Europe’s efforts towards a just and balanced solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. For this reason, Europe is playing virtually no political role in Palestine. Europe is merely being “tolerated” in acting as paymaster for social and economic development projects in the occupied and “autonomous” Palestinian territories.

 In spite of the interrelatedness of US and European strategies in general and the supposed identity of interests in the Mediterranean region in particular, NATO’s position paper (quoted by us earlier) acknowledges three critical dilemmas for Western policy makers in the Mediterranean region: (1) The paper states that the US and European policy makers have a “bifurcated” view of Mediterranean security, the US directing its attention to the East (Middle East), Europe focusing its attention to the West (Maghreb); (2) A lack of an effective and coordinated strategy to deal with the challenges is noted. While the EU concentrates on political-economic issues, NATO (and thereby the US) mainly deals with political-military matters whereby NATO’s initiatives are “largely a function of US defence planning.” (3) A need is further stated to develop effective crisis management capabilities and to come out with a “single Alliance grand strategy.” There is also a need, the paper states, of “overcoming longstanding rivalries and fault lines within the West,” particularly the US-French rivalry, which is again demonstrated in the ongoing controversy over NATO’s Southern Command. The paper further calls for an information strategy of the Western alliance to deal with the “fear that NATO is looking for a new enemy to legitimate itself in the post-Cold War period;” it acknowledges the need to “de-demonize NATO” (sic!).[21]

 This seems to be the slogan that was followed by NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana when he stated in a speech on 25 November 1996, referring to NATO’s “Mediterranean Initiative,” that “NATO does not need an enemy to exist.”[22] In spite of this self-interpretation of NATO’s Mediterranean strategies – which was formulated to counter widespread criticism from the countries and peoples of the South –, the fact remains that Samuel Huntington’s paradigm of a “clash of civilizations” has been suitable to the strategists of the Western defense alliance to shape the stereotype that is needed to justify the perpetuation of international defense structures after the end of the threat against which they have originally been created. The Mediterranean region has unfortunately been made the test case for this new defense doctrine; Europe has been made a hostage of its close alliance with the United States through NATO as it now finds itself in a confrontation with the Arab and Muslim countries of the Southern Mediterranean, a confrontation not necessarily sought by itself. (The case of France, as we stated above, is of exceptional nature because of its “special interests” in the former Maghreb colonies.)

Genuine European initiatives in the Mediterranean?

Having described the interrelatedness of US and European (EU) strategies in the Mediterranean region and the overwhelming influence of the US defense doctrine on the policies of its European allies, we must examine traces of a genuine European policy in the Mediterranean on a collective basis. (On an individual basis, independent action, in regard to US security interests, has always existed, as is demonstrated, e.g., by the cases of Greece and France.) The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution of 4 December 1986, reaffirmed that “the security of the Mediterranean is closely linked with European security and with international peace and security.”[23] It fitted well into this framework when, in 1987, the Western European Union’s Permanent Council established an experts’ sub-group on the Mediterranean, which was charged (among others) with monitoring crises  in the Mediterranean, identifying “high-risk zones” in the region, and with follow-up measures related to the dialogue with the Southern Mediterranean countries. While the WEU was well ahead of NATO with its “Mediterranean initiative,” its statutory basis condemned it to keeping a low profile and to having no impact in terms of power politics.

 It remains to be seen whether the specific Mediterranean initiatives of the European Union (then European Community) undertaken since 1994 will have a greater impact on the political realities in the region and on a climate of partnership and co-operation among all countries of the region. While the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE, now OSCE), in its “Charter of Paris for a New Europe” (which was co-sponsored by the United States),[24] expressed the wish “to promote favourable conditions for a harmonious development and diversification of relations with the non-participating Mediterranean States” by means of e.g. “a substantial narrowing of the prosperity gap between Europe and its Mediterranean neighbours,” these lofty ideals of partnership and co-operation were not followed up by the later initiative of the EU, which adopted the exclusionary policy of NATO and the United States. On 19 October 1994 the European Commission proposed a “Euro-Mediterranean Partnership,” an idea originally launched in Corfu/Greece in June 1994. This idea was taken up by the European Council at its meeting in Essen/Germany (9-10 December 1994) where it was stated that “the Mediterranean represents a priority area of strategic importance for the European Union.” In order to implement these declarations, the 1st Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference was held in Barcelona in November 1995.[25] In addition to the 15 member states of the European Union, 12 states of the Southern Mediterranean were invited. This meeting, which pledged in its official document to promote “peace, stability and prosperity” in the region,[26] was followed by a 2nd Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference in Malta (April 1997).[27] This meeting confirmed the Barcelona initiative’s aim of creating “a multilateral and lasting framework of relations through the establishment of a comprehensive Partnership” in the fields of politics/security, economy and social and cultural affairs. The participants of the conference pledged to “actively pursue the dialogue between cultures and civilizations” (in Chapter III of the Conclusions: Partnership in social, cultural and human affairs).[28]

 In marked contrast to this pledge, the Malta Ministerial Conference excluded the non-EU member states of the Northern Mediterranean and Libya as the only state in the Southern Mediterranean. This has unfortunately led to a situation in which the Maghreb “remains unintegrated and disintegrated when facing the European Union [and] the Barcelona process.”[29] The European policy vis-à-vis the Maghreb – resembling the old colonial and imperialist maxim of divide et impera – is again proof of the overwhelming US influence on the regional and global policies of the European Union. It is a well-established fact that nearly all European countries are in favour of normal relations with Libya and against the continuation of sanctions imposed by the Security Council under US pressure.[30] The continuation of the sanctions is in contradiction to the collective will of the states of the Southern Mediterranean as expressed through the League of Arab States and the Arab Maghreb Union and it is further proof of Europe’s lack of factual sovereignty over its international policies, particularly vis-à-vis its neighbouring regions where European security is most directly at stake.

 It is to be noted that the newly admitted “neutral” member states of the European Union – Austria, Finland and Sweden – have fully integrated themselves into the strategic scheme of Europe’s Mediterranean initiatives. The participation of the three non-NATO members has made no difference at all in regard to the exclusionary and divisive EU-policies vis-à-vis the Mediterranean region. (Two of the countries – Austria and Sweden – have made it clear, however, that they intend to join NATO in the not too distant future.)

Only Green members of the European Parliament have dared to criticize this European policy of exclusion. In a debate at the Plenary Session in Strasbourg (9-13 October 1995), Green MEPs warned “that any exclusion from the Barcelona meeting would be a sign of weakness on the part of [...] Europe.”[31] The Greens made an “urgent call to the European Parliament to invite all Mediterranean countries [to] Barcelona, including ... Libya,” and they deplored the EU’s failure to do so as a “serious error.”[32] They expressed the same concern at the European Parliament’s meeting preceding the second conference in Malta.[33]

 A completely different, more comprehensive approach towards partnership in the Mediterranean has been developed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). In its “1st Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Security and Co-operation in the Mediterranean,” held in Malaga/Spain from 15 to 20 June 1992, the IPU called for the setting up of a permanent mechanism for dialogue and negotiation among all the Mediterranean partners. In the “IInd Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Security and Co-operation in the Mediterranean,” held in Valletta/Malta from 1 to 4 November 1995, the IPU explicitly called for a dialogue among the civilizations of the Mediterranean, noting a “gap of incomprehension between the peoples of the Mediterranean shores” and recommending the creation of an “association of Mediterranean States” (Par. 126-129 of the Final Document). This more comprehensive approach, supported by the parliamentarians of the region, was not to be followed by the organizations representing the state structures. This was exactly so because of the “European predicament,” namely the constraints following from the EU’s integration into the Western power equation, alienating the citizens of the member states from the decision-makers in their own countries on the one side, and from the fellow citizens of the neighbouring countries of the South on the other side. The parliamentarians of the EU, however, presented the “grand design” with which one might overcome the rift between the peoples north and south of the Mediterranean, which is the result of new stereotypes being created by interested lobbies and outside parties along civilizational lines.



Future prospects of North-South relations in regard to Europe’s Mediterranean policies

In spite of the fait accompli of Europe’s integration into the US-led power constellation since the end of the East-West bipolarity, the independent observer notes signs of gradual erosion of the American-European alliance because of conflicting economic (and on a broader level geopolitical) interests. The US-EU dispute over the issue of the extraterritorial application of American laws clearly demonstrates this newly emerging reality. In this regard, the application of unilateral US-sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Libya is in contradiction to vital European interests. The member countries of the European Union are not ready to sacrifice their own economic interests on the altar of a so-called “Atlantic partnership.” The legal controversies between the EU and the US over the Helms-Burton law (in regard to Cuba) – and similarly over unilateral US-sanctions against Libya and Iran – are a clear indication of a diversity of interests and of collective European resistance gradually building up against US efforts to extend American sovereignty in the strict legal sense over Europe and the whole world. As far as multilateral sanctions within the framework of the United Nations are concerned (particularly in regard to Libya and Iraq), the European Union, though not wholeheartedly supporting the respective Security Council resolutions, still feels not strong enough to openly challenge the United States in the Security Council (even if individual member countries such as France disapprove of the underlying American strategy).

 In a comprehensive strategic and political analysis one must not lose sight of the long-term prospect of the emergence of Europe (the European Union) as a new power center in a truly multipolar world – in distinction from the earlier bipolar and the present unipolar world order. The present crisis related to the implementation of the provisions of the Maastricht Treaty (relating to issues of the European Monetary Union etc.) is not to be seen as a permanent obstacle to Europe’s emerging as a major global player in the 21st century.

 Such a new European policy, when it finally emerges, would require the building of comprehensive (not exclusionary) European-Arab co-operation with a genuine European role in the Middle East (not just as an annex of US policies or as paymaster for US political and military interventions as in the cases of the Gulf crisis and of the Palestinian “autonomy”). European-Arab co-operation could evolve from a broad European-Mediterranean co-operation, which for Europe is to be seen within the framework of a far-reaching and long-term neighbourhood policy. Such a policy would be in marked contrast to the American strategic approach in the Middle East, which is dictated by domestic considerations and geopolitical interests at the same time (whereby the collusion with Israeli interests – as again demonstrated in Secretary Albright’s visit to the region in September 1997 – creates a unique brand of superpower “weakness” because of the impossibility to act as arbiter in the almost intractable Arab-Israeli conflict).

A more independent role of a future Europe  requires that unified Germany finally asserts its position not only in the European Union but on a global scale. This will require Germany’s adequate participation in the UN Security Council. (More than half a century after the Second World War, it is simply unacceptable that the UK and France each separately occupy  a permanent seat in the Security Council with the special veto privilege.)[34] Germany will have to overcome the traditionally submissive attitude towards the United States as the victorious power of World War II, and it will have to  question the self-definition of its role as global paymaster for strategic initiatives and “collective enforcement actions” under the umbrella of the US-dominated United Nations, on the conduct of which Germany has no influence at all. A Germany that asserts itself on an international scale – in co-operation with France – can become the nucleus of a strong European Union with a cohesive foreign and defense policy. Presently, there exist de facto 15 “foreign policies” in the European Union. The European approach to the crisis on the territory of former Yugoslavia, and particularly in Bosnia-Herzegovina, is clear proof of Europe’s weakness because of the lack of co-ordination of its member states’ foreign policies. This predicament eternalizes the role of the United States as major European power broker. A further obstacle to a unified European stand on international disputes and on conflicts in the European region itself is undoubtedly the “historical” relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. So far, the UK’s policies since the era of Margaret Thatcher have been a stumbling block to European integration.

A test case for the emergence of a genuine European policy will be Europe’s dealing with countries under sanctions such as Libya or Iraq. These multilateral measures have been imposed by the Security Council under US pressure. The continuation of those collective economic measures is not only unjust and in contradiction to basic rules of international law,[35] it is in direct conflict with major economic and strategic interests of Europe. Europe should finally free itself from the burden of an agenda of power politics that is not its own.

 Gradually, Europe may realize that it cannot – and should not – pay the price for confrontations that are imposed upon itself by outside parties. This applies to Israel’s conflict with the Arabs, to the US conflict with the Arab and Muslim world (particularly because of US strategic interests in oil supplies from the region and because of the implications of the strategic US-Israeli partnership, which is essentially dictated by US domestic politics). Europe should realize that its interests have to be defined by the Europeans themselves, i.e. by the member states of the European Union and not by third parties that have a completely different agenda for Europe’s neighbouring regions (such as the Mediterranean and the Middle East). Developments in these regions most directly affect European security and long-term interests.

 Europe’s “natural interests” consist in establishing balanced relations with its neighbouring regions whether in the East or in the South.  (The debates about the extension of EU membership should also be seen in this context.) In regard to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, Europe’s interest lies in establishing comprehensive economic co-operation and in securing oil supplies on a reliable, long-term basis. In this context, any political interference by outside powers that are themselves parties to Middle Eastern conflicts (such as the United States) is counterproductive. The political and economic stability in the Mediterranean region is vital for European security. This requires an active development policy of Europe vis-à-vis its neighbours in the Southern Mediterranean, and non-interference in the internal affairs of the countries concerned. Europe’s co-operation with the Mediterranean countries should be based on mutual respect for each other’s civilization. This requires, on the part of Europe, a better understanding of the Islamic civilization (as called for by the earlier conference of the IPU) after centuries of confrontations and misunderstandings.[36] Europe should, in its own interest, not adopt the confrontationist agenda of the United States or Israel vis-à-vis the Muslim world. Samuel Huntington’s paradigm of the “clash of civilizations” is definitely not the adequate ideological framework for peaceful co-existence between different regions and civilizations in the 21st century.[37]



Conclusion: Principles of Euro-Mediterranean co-operation

 Having analyzed the development of Euro-Mediterranean relations in the context of Europe’s traditional alliance with the United States and having described the consequences and future prospects of these relations in the framework of the genuine European interest in peaceful co-existence with its neighbouring regions, we would now like to formulate several maxims for the structuring of European-Mediterranean relations in the 21st century:

 (1) European interests should be defined by the Europeans themselves. This will help Europe to avoid situations in which it is getting involved in third-party conflicts and forced to implement an outside agenda that may jeopardize its own long-term security requirements particularly in its relations with the Middle East.

(2) A so-called “new NATO” (with the extension of membership to countries of Eastern Europe) must not eternalize the US hegemony over European security policies. (The rift between the US and France over the issue of the Southern Command reveals a potential for future tensions and clearly demonstrates the conflict of interests between leading European members of NATO and the US.)

(3) In the long run, the Western European Union (WEU) should be developed, i.e. it should get a new lease of life when the present agreement on its mandate expires so as to function as the security organization of the European Union and to replace NATO security structures in Europe itself.

(4)  The old Latin term of mare nostrum should be redefined in the sense of a broader community of and partnership between the countries at the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean.

(5) The former colonial powers of Europe should refrain from interfering in the Southern Mediterranean region. This demand is in conformity with the Barcelona Declaration adopted at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference (27-28 November 1995) where the participating states committed themselves to “refrain, in accordance with the rules of international law, from any direct or indirect intervention in the internal affairs of another partner.” Europe’s credibility vis-à-vis its partners in the Mediterranean is at stake if it allows the “policy of double standards” to continue, which consists in the former colonial countries’ discretion as to how (under which formal procedures) and under what social and political circumstances specific democratic standards should be applied in certain Mediterranean countries (being selected according to European interests). Such a policy only aggravates tensions, internationalizes otherwise internal conflicts and makes them intractable even on a medium- and long-term basis.

(6) Europe must emancipate itself from viewing the Arab-Israeli conflict – the major conflict threatening peace and stability in the whole Mediterranean region and in Europe itself – through American eyes. Europe should try to formulate a more objective position and should not adopt the pro-Israeli bias of US foreign policy. Only this kind of emancipation will enable Europe to play a credible role in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean politics. The European Union member states have to acknowledge that economic co-operation and free trade agreements with the Arab world will not be possible unless the basic political issues are resolved. The EU has to realize that Euro-Mediterranean economic and political co-operation cannot exist in a vacuum and cannot be separated from the basic political issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict and of legitimate Arab rights in occupied Palestine.[38] This has also been acknowledged in a recent statement by the Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Egypt, Christian Klafkowski, who admitted, in connection with the Second International Conference in Malta, that “the success of the Euro-Mediterranean project hinges on the realization of lasting peace in the Middle East” and who conceded that, for the EU, “that means demonstrating greater sensitivity to Arab concerns.”[39]

(7) Europe has to get rid of the collective “inferiority complex” that dates back to the United States’ role in the Second World War and to US “nuclear protection” during the period of the Cold War. The European doctrine of the late President Charles de Gaulle should be revived in order to make Europe a truly sovereign actor on the global scene.

(8) Full-fledged partnership of the European Union with regional inter-governmental organizations in the Southern Mediterranean such as the League of Arab States and the Arab Maghreb Union should be envisaged – without any interference of outside parties such as the US in the formulation of the specific terms of co-operation.

(9) In this regard, the European Union must not continue the traditional policy of divide et impera (“divide and rule”), which it used to apply, and still applies, in its regional initiatives excluding certain states from co-operation and censoring their political “maturity.”

(10) As a confidence-building measure, the member states of the European Union should demonstrate that they take seriously the security concerns of the Southern Mediterranean countries and that they insist on the implementation of the pledge made in the final declaration of the Barcelona Conference (under the heading “Political and security partnership: establishing a common area of peace and stability”) to “promote regional security by acting ... in favour of nuclear ... non-proliferation through adherence to and compliance with ... international and regional non-proliferation regimes ... such as [the] NPT ...” It is to be noted that one of the participating countries of the  Barcelona conference is in the possession of huge stockpiles of nuclear arms and has steadfastly refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The European Union cannot ignore the legitimate security concerns of its Arab partners in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern region if it wants to be credible in its project of “Mediterranean partnership.”[40]

(11) The establishment of a “new order” of co-operation in the Mediterranean region on the Western side must not be left to those forces that are, because of their superpower alliances, involved in “intractable” conflicts in the region of the Mediterranean or the Middle East. This maxim definitely disqualifies the United States in its self-assigned role as arbiter and mediator between the parties and as guardian of peace and stability in the region.


There should be no illusion about the harsh realities of power politics. Europe itself, like any big political-economic conglomerate, will not necessarily be more “peaceful” than other major powers, but it will be more open for dialogue with its neighbours, particularly in the Mediterranean, if third parties don’t interfere, i.e. if Europe is finally in a position to define its own foreign policy and to set up its own long-term agenda on the basis of its genuine interests. In such a context, a “natural partnership” between Europe and the Arab world, in particular the Arab Maghreb, can be envisaged.

 As stated previously, a basic condition for such a partnership and for a lasting order of peace or peaceful co-existence in the Mediterranean will be that European countries give up the colonial habits of interfering in the affairs of the countries of the Maghreb and the Middle East. The interests and tactics of Europe’s former colonial powers in the region must not shape the present regional policy of the European Union. Interference in regard to “democracy,” “religion,” “human rights,” etc. and putting conditions for co-operation in such an ideological framework is definitely not compatible with a “new order of peace and co-operation” in the Mediterranean.

 It is our firm conviction that Europe (the European Union) and the Mediterranean-Arab countries, if left alone, will be able to establish relations of economic and political, even security partnership for their mutual benefit. The US-sponsored paradigm of the “clash of civilizations” should be replaced by a model of genuine dialogue based on the long, though often  conflict-ridden historical relationship between the two regions.

[1] We deal in this context with Europe in the sense of the so-called Western Europe as it is represented in the European Union (EU), the Western European Union (WEU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). We do not deal with the larger (geographical) concept of Europe that would comprise the Western and Eastern European states, notably Russia.

[2] See the author’s analysis: Democracy and the New World Order. Studies in International Relations, XIX. International Progress Organization: Vienna, 1993.

[3] Quoted from the Draft Interim Report of the North Atlantic Assembly’s Sub-Committee on the Southern Region: NAA, International Secretariat, May 1995, Par. 32.

[4] Published in Forward, n. 11, London (Summer 1995) (quoted from the internet homepage of “The Conservative Way Forward,” Westminster, London).

[5] Adam Daniel Rotfeld, “Europe: the multilateral security process,” in SIPRI Yearbook 1995, chapter 8 (quoted from SIPRI’s internet homepage).

[6] This is obvious from the formulations of the founding act of the WEU. See “Treaty of Economic, Social and Cultural Collaboration and Collective Self-Defence Signed at Brussels on March 17, 1948, as Amended by the ‘Protocol Modifying and Completing the Brussels Treaty’,” Art. IV, which de facto puts the WEU under the supremacy of NATO. See also “Protocol No. II on Forces of the Western European Union Signed at Paris on October 23, 1954.”

[7] NATO Press Release (95)12 of 8 February 1995.

[8] Article “The new NATO: Steps towards reform,” in NATO Review, No. 3, May 1996, vol. 44, pp. 7-12 (quoted from the WEBEDITION on NATO’s internet homepage).

[9] Quoted from the internet homepage of the Centre for Defence and International Security Studies at the Dept. of Politics and International Relations at Lancaster University (UK).

[10] North Atlantic Assembly, Sub-Committee on the Southern Region, Report Co-operation and Security in the Mediterranean, Chapter I/A, Par. 7, Doc. AL90, PC/SR (94)1, Rapporteur: Mr. Rodrigo de Rato (Spain):  NAA/International Secretariat, May 1994.

[11] Quoted in James W. Morrison, “NATO Expansion and Alternative Future Security Alignments”: Institute for National Strategic Studies (internet homepage of the National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., 1995).

[12] Quoted according to Defense News, 3-9 October 1994.

[13] Quoted according to Draft Interim Report (Rapporteur: Rodrigo de Rato [Spain]), Par. 30 (1): NAA/Sub-Committee on the Southern Region, International Secretariat, May 1995, Doc. AM 106, PC/SR (95)1.

[14] Draft Interim Report (May 1995), loc. cit., Par. 26.

[15] Madrid Declaration on Euro-Atlantic Security and Cooperation. Issued by the Heads of State and Government, Par. 13: Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, Madrid, 8th July 1997, NATO Press Release M-1 (97)81. According to this Declaration, “security in the whole of Europe is closely linked with security and stability in the Mediterranean.”

[16] By Ronald D. Asmus, F. Stephen Larrabee, Ian O. Lesser (Senior Analysts at Rand), NATO Review, No. 3, May 1996, vol. 44, pp. 25-31(quoted from NATO’s internet homepage).

[17] Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?” in Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993, pp. 22-49.

[18] Quoted according to NAA/Draft Interim Report (May 1995), loc. cit., Par. 38.

[19] Mediterranean/Arab World/Europe. International Progress Organization, Information Service, 17 December 1996: “A strategy based on a construed threat from the Islamic countries of the Southern flank of the Mediterranean only serves the neocolonialist design of NATO vis-à-vis the Arab and Muslim world.”

[20] In The Middle East Book Review, vol. 6, nos. 1 & 2 (1997), p. 27.

[21] “Mediterranean security: new challenges, new tasks”: NATO Review, No. 3, May 1996, vol. 44, pp. 25-31.

[22] “NATO and the Development of the European Security and Defence Identity”: IEEI Conference (Instituto de Estudos Estratégicos e Internacionais/Institute of Strategic and International Studies), Lisbon, 25 November 1996 (quoted from NATO’s internet homepage).

[23] A/RES/41/89, 4 December 1986, 96th plenary meeting: “Strengthening of security and co-operation in the Mediterranean region.” The same resolution referred to the need of  “the withdrawal of foreign forces of occupation and the right of peoples under colonial or foreign domination to self-determination and independence” (with regard to the Mediterranean region).

[24] Adopted on 21 November 1990 by the heads of state or government of the states participating in the CSCE.

[25] For a European analysis of the implications of the Barcelona process see Tuomo Melasuo (ed.), Beyond Barcelona. Europe and the Middle East in the Mediterranean International Relations. Tampere Peace Research Institute: Tampere/Finland, 1996.

[26] See Barcelona Declaration Adopted at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference (27 and 28 November 1995), Barcelona, 28 November 1995. The participants further agreed “to establish a comprehensive partnership among the participants of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership through strengthened political dialogue on a regular basis.”

[27] See Second Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference, Malta, 15 and 16 April 1997, Conclusions, where the participants, under Chapter I: Political and Security Partnership: establishing a common area of peace and stability, explicitly refer to the drafting of a “Charter for peace and stability in the Euro-Mediterranean region.”

[28] For the official position of the European Union (then European Community) on the Barcelona initiative and “Euro-Mediterranean Partnership” see Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Progress Report on the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and Preparations for the Second Conference of Foreign Ministers. Commission of the European Communities, Brussels, 19.02.1997, COM (97) 68.

[29] Mohammad-Mahmoud Mohamedu, The Arab Maghreb Union of North Africa: The Challenge of Regional Integration and Mediterranean Cooperation. The Ralph Bunch Institute on the United Nations, Occasional Papers Series, Number XXVI. New York, August 1997, p. 20.

[30] On the problematic legal nature of these sanctions see the International Progress Organization’s New York Declaration of Legal Experts on U.N. Sanctions Against Libya, 1 December 1994.

[31] Excerpts of debate published in GREENFACTS (internet homepage), October 1995, Paragraph entitled  “Mediterranean Policy.”

[32] Ibid.

[33] GREENFACTS (internet homepage), Highlights of the 10-15 March 1997 Plenary Session of the European Parliament, paragraph entitled “All Countries to Join Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.”

[34] See the I.P.O.’s analysis and proposals in The Voting Procedure in the United Nations Security Council. Studies in International Relations, XVII. International Progress Organization: Vienna, 1991. See also the “Concluding Statement of the Second International Conference On A More Democratic United Nations” in: Hans Koechler (ed.), The United Nations and the New World Order. Studies in International Relations, XVIII. International Progress Organization: Vienna, 1992, pp. 49ff.

[35] Cp. the author’s analysis in The United Nations Sanctions Policy and International Law. Just World Trust: Penang/Malaysia, 1995.

[36] See the author’s paper Muslim-Christian Ties in Europe: Past, Present and Future. Second International Seminar on Civilizational Dialogue: “Japan, Islam and the West.” University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 2-3 September 1996.

[37] See the author’s paper Philosophical Foundations of Civilizational Dialogue. The Hermeneutics of Cultural Self-Comprehension versus the Paradigm of Civilizational Conflict. Third Inter-Civilizational Dialogue, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 15-17 September 1997.

[38] See the analysis by Jassim Al-Azzawy “Euro-Mediterranean dreams,” in Al-Ahram Weekly, 5-11 June 1997, p. 5.

[39] Quoted by Gamal Nkrumah in his article “Maltese mission,” in Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 April 1997, p. 5.

[40] Cf. the statement of the International Progress Organization: Israel/Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Information Service, Vienna, 24 February 1995.