October 30, 2008
EU diplomacy has shifted into the fifth gear, which is remarkable, given its traditionally slow transmission system. That is the good news. Along with it, there comes a bad news: it depends on one man and his relative freshness in power. His name is Sarkozy.
Sarkozy was fast enough to react to Georgian crisis. He handled, almost single – handedly the negotiations with the Russians. He was backed by other European powers, but not without hesitation and not whole-heartedly.
Italians, Germans, Greece was hesitating in supporting the condemnation of the Russians, and were against any sanction.
If there had not been a hyperactive politician in the French President’s seat, Europe would have followed its usual course with slow reaction from its official leaders politicians and a silent EU Comission, whose wings, to say the least, is clipped but its communication influence in the media could be very far-reaching.
I wrote in the first sentence that „EU diplomacy has shifted”. But I was wrong. What happened truly was an action by an activist state leader, who as a freshman in the world stage, tried to carve out his niche in the crowded house of EU politics. This was not a concerted action under a European umbrella. Sarkozy was not leading European states and not conducted his mission supported by European backing. He did what the others thought was nearly good, and they maybe liked his strongmanship. But intentional it was not.
The other example is not as straight as the mentioned above. It is the financial crisis, which again activated Sarkozy who, in the first phase, was attacked when he called for a united European action against the financial tide, but then his idea became most welcomed as the tide was rising higher and higher.
Europeans listened to him more as the impact on their countries has become obvious. But what is important here for us, there was no „We the Europeans” reaction. His activist streak was backed as the singular interests of many countries were the same.
The conclusion is that an activist politicial leader can fill the empty space that is created by inclonclusive European leaders, but without unified European backing, his achievement could not be more than a singular step. Sarkozy has a great sense to grab the politically spectacular and benefiting moments. For his luck, there were hostages in Peru and in Libia and a quick war in the Caucasus. He has accumulated real grandeur now by his actions. But he did it without a band in the background. Domestically wounded, internally attacked form his party, he could not do the same.Péter Kóczián