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Building Stronger Bridges Across the Atlantic

Secretary Colin L. Powell and High Representative Javier Solana of the European Union
The Financial Times
June 25, 2004


Tomorrow we celebrate the strength, depth and significance of the partnership between America and Europe, as leaders from both sides of the Atlantic gather in Ireland for their annual US-European Union summit. To some, this display of solidarity may come as a surprise. After all, over the past year and a half our respective publics and our media have focused far more attention on what divides us, rather than on what unites us. Given the debate over the Iraq war, this was understandable. No longer.

As we approach the end of this historic month in transatlantic affairs, we believe that the U.S. and Europe have turned the page on the divisions over Iraq and are poised to forge a new, stronger consensus on the future path of our partnership.

June began with European and American leaders commemorating the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings. That look back from Normandy helped us see beyond recent divisions and move forward with renewed appreciation for the power of our partnership. The following week, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed resolution 1546, demonstrating international support for a sovereign, stable and democratic Iraq. The adoption of the resolution also signified that, whatever our respective positions were on the Iraq war, the members of our transatlantic community are prepared to work together to ensure Iraq’s successful transition. And just last week, the EU summit endorsed a strategy to foster Iraq’s democratic development, including providing support for elections and civil society.

June also saw concerted action to promote freedom, prosperity and peace in the broader Middle East and Mediterranean. At the Group of Eight summit in Georgia, leaders of the major industrialized nations and the EU announced an initiative supporting calls within the broader Middle East and North Africa for democratic, social and economic reform. The EU also announced its intention last week to develop a strategic relationship with the Mediterranean and the Middle East. At tomorrow’s U.S.-EU summit in Dublin and at next week’s NATO summit in Istanbul, the U.S. and Europe will identify practical ways to work together to advance reform in the region.

Our rich U.S.-EU agenda reflects the dynamism of a partnership based not just on economic power but also on shared democratic values - values reflected in the EU’s new Constitution. Indeed, the expansion of both the EU and NATO has helped greatly to speed and consolidate democratic transitions and economic reforms in the new and aspiring member states. Our economies are the most interconnected and interdependent in the world. Our $2,000bn investment and trade relationship creates and supports millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. The U.S. and EU routinely consult on challenges that cross the Atlantic and span the globe. We are bringing hope to countless millions through our programs to stem the scourge of HIV/Aids and through our support for the World Trade Organization’s growth promoting Doha development round of talks.

In the global war on terrorism, America and Europe have been cooperating closely on measures from improving border security to intelligence sharing. Our partnership has intensified even further since the vicious terrorist attacks in Madrid. For the first time, the EU has endorsed a European Security Strategy, identifying weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and failed states among the principal threats facing Europe, a somber assessment shared by the U.S. All the while we are working together to secure the peace, from the Balkans to Afghanistan -- and now Iraq.

As our leaders meet tomorrow at Dromoland Castle for the first U.S.-EU summit since the Union’s expansion to 25 members, they will be mindful that Americans and Europeans can do much good when we work together with common purpose. And there is a great deal to do, from completing the work of building a Europe whole and free to promoting a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and preventing states in other parts of the world from descending into chaos, conflict and misery. Our partnership not only benefits us, it also gives people across the globe their best chance for a safer and better life. Americans and Europeans began June by honoring the past. And together we end June by embracing the future.

Colin L. Powell is the U.S. Secretary of State and Javier Solana is the EU’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy


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