Dr. Javier Solana
Dr. Javier Solana is one of the leading strategists on foreign policy globally. He is the Secretary General of the European Union Council and the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Ipek Cem: Our guest tonight is Dr. Javier Solana who is one of the leading strategists on foreign policy globally. He is the secretary general of the European Union Council and the high representative for the common foreign and security policy. Thank you for being with us.
Javier Solana: Thank you for inviting me.
Ipek Cem: You seem to have a difficult job if you look at it from the outside. Coordinating the foreign policy of twenty five very demanding, very different countries and even going to even larger numbers. Has the enlargement process made your job more difficult?
Javier Solana: Well I really don't think so. You have said the job is not easy, but I don't think it has changed its nature in a very drastic or dramatic manner because of the process of enlargement. I think most countries coming in the the European Union do have a certain commonality of feelings about policy. What have been some changes is the weight that some countries may want to put in particular regions of the world, but we have the obligation to consider all of them and to make everybody in the family, the European Union family comfortable and happy if possible. And therefore I try to do that sometimes successful sometimes less success but to reply, to answer your question that things are much more difficult because of the enlargement process.
Ipek Cem: You just talked about the 'family' and one of them, leading topics this week has been the new candidate member of the 'family'; Turkey and I know this is a topic in a way close to our hearts and close to your heart. So I wanted to move a little bit to the Turkey issue. We know you have been very active over the years. Even in starting with your position in 1999 in the Helsinki summit and then over the years and also in the past week and weeks and months leading to the past week. Supporting Turkey and giving the rationale for a European which integrates Turkey into its community. I wanted to hear from you we have heard many versions on TV and in the news sources. Do you feel that the negotiations leading to the accession talks have been handled well? Were we to expect this much conflict or it kind of went out of hand?
Javier Solana: Well, I don't think it was much conflict. Turkey and you personally, you have a spirit how things are handled in the European Union that are not easy sometimes because as you said in the first question we are a lot of people and even if we are in agreement. Just to let everybody's precious sentiments, it takes us some time. Therefore I will not call this date as a complicated day. The issue was an issue that had, was around for a long period of time. We knew at the end of the day it would be successful. But we had to balance the last positions of everybody, including Turkey. Because at the last minute also Turkey has brought up some issues that it had to reinterpret and change some decisions. The decisions on this matter as you know have to be taken by unanimity at twenty five as we are today. In the future we will be more and Turkey will be included. And to get unanimity in text sometimes may be difficult but we always achieve common positions and it may take a little bit more time. But I don't think that I do not characterize the day as a complicated day.
When I came, the first night, Sunday night before we had the first meeting to the journalists I answered them very clearly, "Yes" to the question, "Will you have an agreement on Monday?". And I said, "Yes, I have no doubt." and word like that.
Ipek Cem: Yes I have read that you also made a reference to the fact that European Union will aways fulfil its commitments vis-a-vis Turkey. So I read it as a positive response and hope that it would be resolved in the end. What happened with Austria and the Croatian card? Was that something expected or it happened ...
Javier Solana: The position of Austria was known. It was not... Nothing was surprising, last minute. The position as far as Croatia is concerned as you know we had say for the same day was a meeting of all the ministers. We had an agenda with those events. Not only Turkey but we had other points on the agenda and one of the points was to deal with Carla DuPonte the responsible international tribunal. To have an analysis on the behavior of Croatia. Fortunately, I'm glad that happened. Carla DuPonte said that the cooperation of Croatia with the international tribunals was improving and she could say that there was good cooperation. Therefore since Croatia had already started then they would finish so we stopped them because we thought the cooperation was not good. Once the tribunals said, "Yes the cooperation was good we took the minute to say we took the decision to continue, but I don't find any of these relationships on the dates or in the decision. Everybody, every issue was decided on its own merits.
Ipek Cem: Yes. In Turkey the European Union issue has taken maybe a lot on an emotional level as well and I see the same actually when the discussion is made in other European countries and we felt, for example, our government handled those several days in a calm manner, in a way that kind of showed some pride and we were, the public, took some pride in that. In your opinion, and your a veteran politician, did you feel that the Turkish government was a good counter party throughout those couple of days or hours when the resolution was being made?
Javier Solana: Yes. I believe there was a good counterpart to negotiation the last issues there were still open. Most of these were very close there were only a few that remained opened and had to be closed on the last moment on the last day. I mean your country is an important country. It's a big country physically and not only physically, population, morally and therefore is a country with a dignified position and requires the respect from us as they expected, we expected and we respected also.
So it was a negotiation between dignified people that they have their pride and they want to be respected. We tried to do with Turkey and I'm sure that the leaders of Turkey had the same sentiment vis-a-vis with the European Union.
Ipek Cem: Yes. And actually some of the topics were resolved, there are two different terminologies that remained in that framework document and one of them that is highly discussed in Turkey is this matter of absorption capacity which we feel is a bit vague and can be put into question at any point in time. I wanted to ask you a little bit about that, because I also have read European Union journals, your views on Turkey's accession and your pragmatic view about you know, not leaving it out, contributing a lot to Turkey the fact that this is a process and we cannot predict the end of the process at time zero. So I wanted to ask you about this absorption capacity phase with that reference.
Javier Solana: Well, we like to use the microscope to look at the terminology of some of the documents. I think it's good and good when you're dealing with an important topic for your country as for the European Union is good people to look at the microscope.
But you have some time to take a certain distance to abandon the microscope and take the camera and put a wide angular and look at the perspective and lot the semi-colon, the colon, the word, the expression etc. Now the absorption capacity is something that which has been always in all the documents. It is in Copenhagen Criteria, it has been used with all the countries that have been part of the European Union later on. From the last enlargement and is something which is normal.
It depends the absorption capacity means what is the capacity the European Union has to commit to comply with all the requirements all the commitments we have made with you. When a country enters into the European Union it does have benefits and we have made some commitments with them.
For instance, culture today maybe tomorrow some other things and we have to be in a position to be able to meet those requirements. That is what it means. But again I think that sometimes we use the microscope to look at documents too much. This is a document or an engagement which is based on trust. Is based on friendship is based on shoulder to shoulder relationship, in mind to mind relationship. That is way way much more important that whatever is placed in the paper. You have doubts of what we put on the paper. We have a trust of confidence because of we put this phrase or the other will never achieve a good result.
We are to trust each other we have to have a good relation as I said, soul to soul, head to head, brain to brain, an objective which is common. And objective is common. So I wouldn't be concerned, and I understand that the leaders had concerns because they assumed responsibilities when they put a signature in a document. But for the Turkey, the Turkish people as a whole I would like to tell them very clearly that this is something very important. That is going to be taken very seriously by you and by us. And that we really have to learn to continue loving each other, to know each other better, to deepen our friendship because this is what the whole thing is about.
The European Union is a group of countries that want to share a destiny. That want to share an objective in life. To have an objective in the peace and security in the world and those are the important things. I'm sure that the Turkish people and the European people do understand that and will be a successful story.
Ipek Cem: Would you say what is concurring very much with what one Turkish diplomat was telling me the other day which is that we kind of have to learn to live together and work together and stop looking at each other as adversaries. But rather as partners who are in effect going towards a common goal so this is a big paradigm shift for both sides because the negotiation aspect has been so much in the forefront and that I think this is a shift that we have to do in public mind as well.
Javier Solana: You have use of the diplomat you are talking about. I will use a term I will never use. We have never been adversaries. We have always been friends. We have been negotiating with more or less intensity with more or less difficulty, but never from two different camps. Always from the same camp never have been adversaries. Your country has been with the majority of the European countries with NATO for many many years.
We started having a relationship in the 1960's with the customs union. From there on, we've been together in a journey which is long sometimes but it has a destiny. And in any case, I think, that both you and us we have to consider the journey as a beautiful one.
Ipek Cem: Okay. But, the Turkish public there are many opinion polls as are in other European countries. Last year, the issue of the European Union and also after 1999 I would say, was one that was, that united a lot of people, it had a very high we had a high approval waiting like in the I think in the 80% range but over the past year and with some of the polls of course taking place within European Union in 2005, we see that they this approval rating or let's say the eagerness of being with the European Union has subsided a bit. How do you suggest because to remedy this situation do you think this is a situation that needs more communication internally or does it have to do with the European Union and Turkey communicating more effectively or it's just an emotional issue?
Javier Solana: Well, I mean, as you know the European Union in the last few months we have gone through some difficulties that are going to be overcome. No doubt about that. So for the polls which are taken today; they are polls that cannot be taken as scientific. I mean we are in a very particular situation that will be as I said, overcome. But I think that in any case regardless of what the polls may say today. What I said answering the previous question. We have to show between us, our sentiments. Our sentiments of friendship, Our sentiments of common interests and security and stability. We have responsibilities together in the same regions of the world. We have a lot of things to do together.
Not only economically which are important, but also politically and the European Union is not only an economic institution it's also has a political component. Economical is very important. We have had, as I said, an economic relation for a long time. Now we are going to have a leap forward in to have a deepened economic relation and also a deepened political relations. And as I said before, these have to be done trying to express ourselves in frankness but also in certain sentiment of friendship and love. Which is what we have.
Ipek Cem: I would like to move on to possibly your favourite topic which is foreign policy in the sense that European which involves Turkey clearly has a different constituency in terms of incorporating a different religion, a different geopolitical place in the world and then some different sensitivities that Turkey has. So, in that sense and some are arguing that the clash of civilizations, this would be a positive impact on the so called clash of civilizations or religions. In your opinion, in some of the significant foreign policy initiatives that the European Union is looking after let's say in the Middle East, with Russia, with the US, with other specific examples like the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. What kind of a role can Turkey play? Is it too early to say how would the harmonisation of the foreign policy be conducted over the years?
Javier Solana: Let me tell you that we have been cooperating on foreign policy for many years. We thought having a start the accession negotiations. Why? Because we have a lot of things in common in our vision of a certain, of the world and in particular a region we are both are very, very interested in. A strategic region for Turkey and for the European Union. So nothing very dramatic is going to change.
It is a process of continuation of a relation that will become more intense. But the sense of direction will not change. It will change intensity maybe of the relationship, not a sense of direction.
Turkey is a very important country for the stability of the wider Middle East. It is a very important country for the, with other parts of the world. Its a NATO partner. So we have the same sense of direction as I said before. The only thing that may happen is that that sense of direction would be deeper, but it will not be any change.
Ipek Cem: Putting Turkey aside on some of the main issues facing the world today, for example Iran and the nuclear issue, and Iraq, I know these are all issues that the EU is working on. These are live dossiers for the European Union. The Palestinian – Israeli conflict and also the neighborhood policy that involves Azerbaijan, Georgia and some other countries . Can we talk specifically about those topics and the latest developments on those?
Javier Solana: Well, I like to distinguish two levels. One level is what we may have, we may call neighbours. And its true that the incorporation of Turkey brings new neighbours and therefore we have to be interested in those neighbours. Not only Turkey but the whole European Union will have deeper interest in this neighbour because they are neighbours of the European Union not only neighbours of Turkey. This is one level.
The second level is what we may call a strategic issue. We go from terrorism, non-proliferation, failed estates and all those issues. Turkey may play by itself regardless of what of the neighbours a very important role because it is an important player in the international arena and therefore on these two levels we have to cooperate and to cooperate intensively.
Ipek Cem: Turkey and the US have been good allies over the years and we know that the US has been a staunch supporter of Turkey's joining the European Union. And we have heard our Prime Minister had almost a half an hour talk I think with secretary state Condoleesa Rice on October 3rd . So, does a Europe which includes Turkey is becoming even, I don't want to say even, closer to the US or does it strengthen a little bit? The transatlantic alliance?
Javier Solana: The transatlantic alliance, the transatlantic link between the European Union and the United States is very profound. It has many years of life and we have had a part of this transatlantic relationship takes place in NATO where Turkey is member. So again, nothing very dramatic is going to change. As far as the incorporation of Turkey into Europe vis-a-vis the relationship with the United States.
Ipek Cem: There was some talk over Turkey being maybe a Trojan horse for the US I think may be in some of the member states on the same topic but ...
Javier Solana: I think that Turkey in itself is sufficiently important to have to bring anybody along. It has its presence, has its interests, has its values, has it has its population, it has its dimension. Turkey in itself is an important country for us.
Ipek Cem: I would like to ask a little bit about the strengthening relations with Russia. There was a summit in London and especially focusing on energy issues. Is this is this trend going to continue?
Javier Solana: Well I think that energy. Today is one of the most interesting, to call it in one manner, an important topic that we have in our agenda. Everybody has in their agenda. Turkey, the European Union, Russia, everybody. We are seeing countries growing at a very high rate. The consumption of energy is going to increase in the world. The offer will not increase probably at the same rate. Therefore we may have to be <unintelligible> in new strategies vis-a-vis energy and we also have guarantee the security of the energy supply. Therefore we talked about that with every country. I was at the beginning of the month of September in China, in India, and we talked about that. We talked with Turkey about that. We talked with the United States about that. We talked with Russia about that. It will be a very important issue for all of us in the coming years.
Ipek Cem: With the inclusion of Turkey as well I know only the you have a strong Mediterranean base in the sense that Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Malta, you name it, and is there going to be, will we see a more stronger presence or policy towards the Mediterranean and maybe with that you know towards Africa perhaps which is also of interest to you. How does this Mediterranean angle can you think of it? As kind of having an angle of its own or...?
Javier Solana: Well it has already given on the European Union an angle which is Mediterranean. Which is what we call the Euro-Mediterranean process. Which was started in Barcelona in 1995 so we are about to be ten years old. We have this process to be years old and no doubt, Turkey's an important also Mediterranean country, therefore that policy will be more reinforced with the presence of Turkey than we used to be. It is very very strong now because of neighbours on the other side of what we may call the Mediterranean which is a sea. That is not a sea of separation but it is like a magnetic pole, I think, if I may use that metaphor. That joins the two sides of the Mediterranean to make it closer and to make it politically and economically more balanced. That is our aim in the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue and I'm sure that Turkey will be very happy to be part of that scheme which we have in the European Union.
Ipek Cem: I would like to move on a little bit, if I may, to the future of European Union which is a big topic of course but the Constitution, you feel that in 2006 the Constitution will come to a level where it will be resolved with some meetings during the Austrian presidency?
Javier Solana: Well I think that the constitution will continue to be a subject of debate. The content of the constitution although the majority of the topics, they are or exist a broad consensus. where there maybe some elements some differences of opinion with, among the leaders and the public at large and the citizens at large.
But I think that the response that the citizens in two countries have given is more to the context than to the text. I don't think they are a big difference about the content, the text of the, it's more what has been around the constitution. The economic situation of country “A” or country “B”, some particular situation of country “C” or country “D”. But I don't think that its a basic disagreement about the need to have a live operational, the basic elements which are contained into the constitution.
Now, are they going on to be resolved these differences in 2006 or 2007 I don't know really. One thing that has just taken place that a good number of countries are going though electoral processes in 2006 and 2007 and maybe in order to have more clarities it is better to wait to finalize and debate to the final decision of those electoral process. I mean this is a suggestion that does not necessarily have to be true but it may be necessary, it will be better to wait to rationalize on these electoral processes.
The problem that we have in the European Union being so many countries in not having the elections not on the same date. It is that the elections in different countries do effect to a certain extent the life of a particular country in a particular moment that may in turn effect the also their position in the group. But I think these tendencies will be diminishing as time goes by, and will get used to be more people around the table, more countries around the table.
Ipek Cem: So, timing will be crucial in other words for the success of ...
Javier Solana: Yes. But time, time, not in, in a long period of time. But of time it will not be a long period of time. It would be a reasonably short period of time. The time needed to sort out the situation.
Ipek Cem: Do you feel when there is a lack of communication between the political leaders who may have a certain vision of Europe as a stronger political entity, as a stronger economic entity, and their own constituencies locally whereby people are just worried about, of course, their everyday life, and their earnings and job situation. Is there a widening gap between the opinion of the citizen and the vision of the political leader?
Javier Solana: No. That is something that is linked to leadership. You cannot ask everybody to be concerned about everything. The leaders like the people have to be concerned about everything. They have to be concerned about the well being of the citizens of their own country. But they also have to be concerned about the strategic issues. That sometimes not everybody is concerned about them. That is the responsibilities of leadership and that is why sometimes there are differences of the position of a leader or a group of leaders and the position of a part of the population at large.
That happens in your country also. The decision that your leaders have taken in some issues may also be an issue of the European Union is a decision of leadership. It is a vision, a decision of vision projecting your country to the future you cannot ask every citizen of Turkey or every person of the European Union to project Turkey or the European Union in ten years from now, twenty years from now, fifty years from now. But the leaders have the obligation to think about that. To think about the regional stability, I think when you are elected, you are elected to do these things also.
Not only to guarantee that the economy goes well, but to think about issues that may have consequences on the goodness of the economy and the solidity of your economy, but not necessarily be perceived by the people at large asking important issues although they are sometimes much more important to their everyday life.
Imagine for a moment, suppose that we have a confrontation that affects us. It will change very much our lives. Very very much. To avoid any confrontation in the region where we live is fundamental. The citizens at large don't think about that everyday. It is the obligation of the leaders to avoid that and to prevent that that happens, because this will be much more important with daily life.
Ipek Cem: Are we today still talking about the legitimacy of the EU when somebody like Valerie Isgardishdan talks of taking Turkey in as kind of diluting the essence of Europe which was the beginning of unification of Europe and then now we see Europe which will have a large Muslim population. There is already Muslims living in Europe. Do you feel that European Union is changing its reason of existence or justification in a way by expanding itself further or is this something that's needed perhaps?
Javier Solana: This is a theoretical debate that its understandable and I respect it. I mean, you consider a generation of leaders of the European Union. for them the objective of the European Union were the reconciliation of countries historically have been fighting against each other. So we created a first zone of peace and stability which all the countries that have been fighting will 'never again' that never again. France, Germany for instance and others.
Now, after the 1989 a profound change took place in our continent, in Europe. The falling of the Berlin Wall was a dramatic event, very positive. That may also contribute to not to have tensions within Europe and therefore the European Union could have another look and another objective; broader, because a page of our history has been written and written all the way to the end and was written and successful and now to stabilize those countries that were beyond the Berlin Wall were very important also and I think we have done the most important stabilization operation that has been done in many many years and many many places. The most important one has been that. And therefore in that sense you may say that we are looking at different things but at the end it is the same thing. The same objective which is peace, stability, prosperity. These are the three values in which we have to live.
And then, now we grow when we are now with you will probably be more than the population of the US. And therefore we have also responsibilities vis-a-vis the world at large. I mean a group of countries like that they cannot close their eyes to what is going on beyond their borders. And therefore we have also these obligations vis-a-vis third countries which are not members of the European Union and for that point of view we have to become more political.
Ipek Cem: You've been very active in Spanish politics for over, for many years and afterwards you moved to the international scene with the secretary general of the NATO and then secretary general of the European Union Council. Do you feel that when I ask you "I'm European first, Spanish next" or "Spanish first, European next" or there is no comparison?
Javier Solana: Well I think its very difficult to put it first, second, third. You have to be citizens of many places at the same time. I feel today you have to be a citizen of the world. And to feel that you are a part of this thing we call our planet. Because I feel solidarity with the people in Africa, I feel solidarity with the people of the Latin America. Of course, the proximity is something which is very important. And I have two proximities. The proximity of Europe, and the proximity of my own country. You want to go a little bit further, I have the proximity with my own town. I think that you don't have to be, a divide in your heart. Your heart should be big enough to be able to share, to laugh, to the people nationally and people internationally in this case we are talking in the European terms.
Ipek Cem: You have been called an "Indispensable European" and I was also reading that Henry Kissinger at some point said that "It would be so nice to, when there is a conflict. To pick up the phone and find one person on the European side" and many people are now calling you that. I wanted to ask you, It's maybe too early to talk about that what would you feel is the appropriate legacy for you within Europe, for Spain, and maybe globally?
Javier Solana: Well, I don't think the moment has arrived to talk about my legacy, for the moment the most important legacy I would like to leave is to be: "A" an honest man. "B" a hard working man on the things I believe, the ideas I believe. on the principles I have. And third: to fight, and really fight for peace, for stability, and for prosperity for those who have less. I think this is three values that I have very dear and close to my heart.
I probably learned it from my family first, and then in my country, and in Europe.
Ipek Cem: I would like to thank you very much for this candid interview.
Javier Solana: Thank you very much
Ipek Cem: Thank you.
This transcript was typed from a transcription unit recording and not copied from an original script. Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, NTV networks and Ipek Cem cannot vouch for its accuracy.