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Synthesis/Regeneration 20   (Fall, 1999)

Open Letter to Joschka Fischer:
Will "Think Globally, act locally" be replaced
by "Think Eurocentrically, act militarily"?

by Per Gahrton, Green Member of European Parliament, Sweden

I have waited two weeks before writing this letter. On January 12 you presented the program of the German Presidency in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. As you can imagine, I listened with great interest and great hope; it was the first programmatic foreign affairs declaration of a green President of the Council of Ministers of the European Union. You can imagine that I was expecting something particularly special and Green.

During your speech I began feeling uneasy, and this feeling increased when my Swedish colleague from the conservative Liberal Party came over to me and congratulated me: "Excellent! With Greens like Joschka Fischer even I could be a Green!" The Swedish Liberals have long stood against the Swedish politics of peace and neutrality and in favor of a militarization of the European Union.

Back in Sweden I realized that this was not the only conservative politician who was fond of your speech. Carl Bildt too, our former Prime Minister and head of the Swedish Conservatives, the sister party of the Christian Democratic Union and a great admirer of Helmut Kohl, praised your speech publicly. His party is considering the development of a federal European Union as a means to decrease the Swedish welfare state and as a guarantee against red-green political "adventures."

What do you want, an EU-FBI, an EU-CIA, an EU-KGB?

After all these comments I took my copy of the minutes and looked carefully at your text. Joschka, I am still irritated. I have to ask you, is there anything in your text which could not have been said by Helmut Kohl as well? You are proposing the integration of the West European Union (WEU) into the EU. You must know that not only the Green Group in the European Parliament but the Green Federation of some 30 green parties from all over Europe are speaking out against any form of militarization. You address the EU as a "strong and decisive global player" and state that the EU has to "bring forward its importance on the global scene." What do you mean by this? These are the same words I am used to hearing from my colleagues in the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, when they speak out for the new super power EU to defend the European economic and strategic privileges against the poor of this world, towards Africa, Asia and Latin America.

And what about the EU-police? You said, "we have to continue to intensify the cross-border cooperation of the police and to strengthen the operational capacities of Europol." You are even in favor of it becoming "the next step to giving the European police institutions a European-wide power to operate." What do you want, an EU-FBI, an EU-CIA, an EU-KGB? You should know that in addition to the Green Group in the European Parliament, the Green Federation is very critical of such a centralized police power structure.

You want to abolish the last pieces remaining of self-determination in the small EU member states—their veto power has to be abolished, [decisions will be made] only by majority votes in the EU Council of Ministers. You are aware that this would only apply to the smaller member states. As a result of their dominating position, Germany and France will always maintain de facto veto power. The smaller ones have to obey. The German social-democratic Friedrich Ebert Foundation proposed some days ago that Germany's vote in the EU Council of Ministers and in the EP should be increased. In federal states like the US there is proportional representation only in one chamber; in other federal structures all states have the same voting power.

What sort of internationalism is it which degrades my country, marginalizing it into a sub-province of a German-French Empire?

In the Mega-EU, which is growing and growing, this will all be different. The big states will control both chambers. Why this irrational attitude against this little bit of remaining self-determination for the small EU member states? Haven't we, you and I, fought together for the self-determination of Algeria, Vietnam and other colonized peoples? I don't think that a hundred percent self-determination is either possible or desirable. But: Is it asking too much to have a little bit of self-determination for the Swedish, Danish and other smaller nations in the EU? What sort of internationalism is it which degrades my country, marginalizing it into a sub-province of a German-French Empire?

Joschka, aren't you disturbed by the perspective that one day the young generation of my country could be forced to organize—in the same way as the German Greens in the '70s or the Kosovo freedom fighters of today—desperate protest activities against the EU military super-state? Would they then be at risk from the "increased operational capacities of Europol" and would not "the European-wide operational capacities of European police institutions" be mobilized against them because their activities made them "enemies of the state"?

A Green German MEP said: "Certainly it was not a green speech, it was a state speech, he had to do it."

I have discussed your Strasbourg speech with many German Greens. They have defended you loyally. Realos, as well as, Fundis. A Green German MEP said: "Certainly it was not a green speech, it was a state speech, he had to do it." On January 25 & 26 I was part of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee in Bonn to meet our equivalents in the Bundestag. The German green members there tried to calm me down. "Joschka was obliged to speak like that, he had to calm down fears of our neighbors, for example the US," they said. Others stated that you had to pay a price for the victory of Jürgen Trittin in the nuclear field. [Trittin had strongly opposed nuclear power plants and made that a condition for a green-social democratic alliance.—ed.] As I write, this explanation is becoming increasingly doubtful. [Only] when you succeed with the end of the nuclear society in Germany, [can we say that] this is the price of a verbal adjustment to the dominant security liturgy of the power elites.

I am full of hope that you—after having calmed down the power elites enough—will address a calming word to us Greens and internationalists so that we can be sure that a Green Foreign Affairs Minister means something other than a continuation of CDU politics. In the past we Greens had followed the direction: "Think globally, act locally." Let's hope that this will never be replaced by, "Think Eurocentrically, act militarily."

Your green friend,
Per Gahrton

Note: written 1-1/2 months before NATO began bombing Yugoslavia, this letter was translated from Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), of February 5, 1999.

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