Sarkozy Seeks Closer Ties between EU, U.S. Continent's Defense Also High on His Agenda

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 11, 2008 | Go to article overview

Sarkozy Seeks Closer Ties between EU, U.S. Continent's Defense Also High on His Agenda


Byline: Andrew Borowiec, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

NICOSIA, Cyprus - More coordination with the United States in foreign policy and a stronger European defense are high on the agenda of French President Nicolas Sarkozy as he prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the European Union.

Among other objectives revealed to Greek officials during Mr. Sarkozy's visit to Athens on Friday are plans to secure Europe's energy supplies, solidify stability in the Balkans and promote closer relations with the countries along the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

On the sensitive Balkan question, Mr. Sarkozy told his Greek hosts that "the best way to establish peace in the Western Balkans is to offer them, convincingly and wholeheartedly, a real future in Europe." Greek officials say this would include Serbia's membership in the EU, opposed by some member nations.

Diplomats generally interpreted the preview of Mr. Sarkozy's plans as an indication of his intention to seek a greater, if not dominant, role for France in the often-divided grouping of 27 European nations.

His accent on closer cooperation with the United States was seen as an effort to influence the former communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe, which are much more supportive of U.S. policies than their west European partners.

The United States has long supported Mr. Sarkozy's objectives that have considerably improved relations between Paris and Washington, for years tarnished by mutual sniping. …

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