Siding with Jerusalem and Washington on the issue, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Poland objected to a draft text by the Finnish EU presidency which urged an "immediate ceasefire" - wording which was strongly backed by France and Spain in particular.The difference evidently being that BOTH sides should (gradually) stop hostilties, after which a permanent cease-fire is negotiated.
Member states finally agreed on compromise wording saying "The [EU] council calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities to be followed by a sustainable ceasefire."
And in a when-pigs-fly moment Solana came to Israels defence:
Mr Solana insisted on having the text reflect that Hezbollah, and not Israel, started the hostilities.That last bit kinda spoils the moment, I know. I do not think the credibility of the EU in Israel is a real issue, what with French diplomacy being what it is these days.
The phrase saying "the council condemns the rocket attacks by Hezbollah on Israel" was moved up, and now appears before the condemnation of the death of innocent civilians and UN personnel through Israeli strikes.
A German diplomat said the textual change was important to "maintain some credibility with the Israelis."
Anyway, it all sounds like Euro-weenie terrorist enabling, this statement. And on some level it unfortunately is. But the positive news is 1) the council of ministers refused to give into France in this matter, the pro-Israel bloc (the ones with a reality related view on the issues, one would say) held firm, 2) Hezbollah has officially been recognized as the agressor in this thing (though that bit is probably going to say some very heavy underplaying in the MSM, I'll bet) and 3) failing to come up with a forceful and united statement, this current compromise once again puts the lie to any 'common foreign policy' directed by the EU commission, putting yet another nail into the coffin in which we will, in due time, bury 'EU - the political project'.
You have to look hard, maybe even squint a little. But there's good news to be had.
[UPDATE001] Then again, it is always one step forward, one step back with these people. Aaargh.
The EU will not for the time being put the Islamist Hezbollah movement on its blacklist of terrorist organisations but the discussion could re-emerge in the future, the Finnish EU presidency has said.[UPDATE002] Make that two steps back.
Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja declared after crisis talks with EU counterparts on Tuesday (1 August) "Given the sensitive situation where we are, I don't think this is something we will be acting on now."
But beyond making Syrian and Iranian leaders feel respected, it is not clear what the Europeans can offer to persuade Damascus or Tehran to lean on Hezbollah guerrillas to stop firing missiles into Israel or accept eventual disarmament.Let me take this opportunity to knock repeatedly on the desk the computer from which I manage this modest blog resides on. With my head.
"There can be no effective solution without Syria," Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said after European Union ministers held emergency talks on the crisis Monday.
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, a former EU Middle East peace envoy, was due to visit Damascus after talks in Beirut with Lebanese leaders, diplomats said.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy met his Iranian counterpart, Manoucher Mottaki, in Beirut on Sunday and raised some eyebrows by saying Iran "plays a stabilizing role in the region".
He sought to clarify that comment in Brussels on Monday, saying: "Iran has a share of responsibility in the current situation, so Iran can play a role in its solution, and can therefore contribute to stabilisation in the region."