By Johan Galtung
Speech given in Brussels to the European External Action Service, Free University, October 8, 2013
The EU is in a crisis mainly of its own making. Some of it is economic and can be solved by strict control on speculation, separating savings and investment banks, by gradual debt forgiveness, by lifting the bottom up, the most miserable communities, by the GIPSI (Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Ireland) countries cooperating, by stimulating agricultural cooperatives with direct sales points, etc. But much of it is political; the EU has become invisible on the world scene, incapable of a foreign policy building peace and security, also much too tied to US and Israeli fundamentalisms and too anti-Islamic.
The following are some ideas about steps that can be taken.
The EU glittering success as a peace zone is much needed in zones of war and where war threatens: the Middle East, Central Asia, East Asia. A Middle East Community, of Israel with five Arab neighbors (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt); a Central Asian Community of Afghanistan with eight neighbors (Iran, Pakistan, five former Soviet republics, Ashad Kashmir) with open borders (crucial for the Pashtuns and others); and a North East Asia Community (with two Chinas, the two Koreas, Japan, Mongolia and the Russian Far East (now with Khabarovsk as capital) could all benefit from EU opening its archives, telling how it all happened, sharing a major learning experience for humanity.
A United Regions added to the UN but with no veto powers, of the EU, AU, SAARC, ASEAN and the coming Latin America and the Caribbean, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Middle East, Central Asia, North East Asia could take shape and become a key tool of global governance.
EU and Crisis Management. There are many of them, and there will be more crises given the legacy of colonialism constructing countries, putting together what did not belong together, dividing what did. An example are the four Sykes-Picot colonies: Iraq and Palestine for England, Lebanon and Syria for France, built-in catastrophes, now exploding. The EU will have to recognize the responsibility of some members, and then listen to what all the parties want, trying to arrive at a bridging perspective. Generally speaking, two approaches:
* federation within, with high autonomy for the nations and democracy within each part – but not an all over “one person one vote” which would result in the majority dictatorship of the most numerous nation;
* confederation, community, between, with open borders for nations that belong together to travel freely.
For Syria this would mean both respecting the Sunni majority and the minorities protected by Shia rule, with a two-chamber parliament, territorial for the provinces and non-territorial for the nations, with veto rights in matters concerning their identity. EU should send well trained mediators to the crisis area to understand the parties, and facilitate dialogue between them at the local level, many places.
EU and the use of military force. Should be Chapter 6 peace-keeping, not Chapter 7 “peace enforcement” (a contradiction in terms). Given the strong attachment to their goals of autonomy, a ceasefire with no image of a solution will be used for rest, smuggling of arms and redeployment; the road to ceasefire passes through a vision of a solution, not vice versa. The role of peace-keeping is to prevent violence, not to use it, and with that in mind peace-keepers should have military expertise and weapons for self-defense; some police training for crowd control; nonviolence training; some mediation training to know how to understand and facilitate dialogues; be 50% women more focused on human relations, less on control; and be so numerous that we can talk about a blue carpet, not only blue helmets.
EU-Third World, mostly former colonies: time is overdue for some reconciliation. Just compensation for the genocide and sociocide–killing social structures and cultures–is out of question, but joint understanding is not. Mutually acceptable textbooks about that period would be very useful, building on the German experience rewriting text books for reconciliation.
West-Islam. At the political level Turkey should become member, making Istanbul a hub for positive West-Islam relations. North Cyprus should be recognized; all of Cyprus – unitary state, federation or confederation – should be an EU member. A dialogue of civilizations could aim at combining Western pluralism with Muslim closeness and sharing for mutual benefit. The Western approach to the Catholic-Protestant divide might be useful for Shia-Sunni understanding.
Russia. Historically the many invasions were from West to East with two exceptions: Russia hitting back after Napoleon and Hitler. There is room for reconciliation based on such facts rather than the paranoid use of the image of Russia, like of China, as peril.
China. The main Silk Road was not a track in the desert and the mountains but a major Buddhist-Muslim East Asia-East Africa sea lane for 1000 years, 500-1500; destroyed by the Portuguese and the English in the name of their Kings. Time for reconciliation – including gunboat “diplomacy”, opium export, and colonization of Macao-Hong Kong is overdue. And an EU recognizing Israel partly because of two thousand years old history might also recognize some Chinese ocean rights with a much more recent history–in no way leaving out joint Chinese-ASEAN ownership of some of the islands, and joint Northeast Asian Community in due time of Senkaku-Diaoyu islands, and others, with their EEZs.
Eurasian Partnership. The EU is a peninsula on the Eurasian continent; increasingly connected by excellent railroad links mainly built by the Chinese, coming ever closer together. This is the time to add an Eurasian orientation to a Trans-Atlantic one, today in abeyance, waiting for he USA to recover and stop spying on the world.
All this is feasible: with realism in the brain and idealism in the heart.
Originally published at Trancend Media Service here.