EU President With Purpose
France took the chair of the revolving European Union (EU) presidency in July, signaling a flurry of diplomatic initiatives by the EU to occur over the second half of the year.
Among the heightened foreign policy thrusts is a special summit for Balkan leaders proposed by French President Jacques Chirac. Other summits include one with Japan, which took place on July 20, followed by the EU participation in a regional forum on security and defense organized by the Association of Southeast Nations a week later in Bangkok, Thailand. A further summit will be convened with Asian and EU leaders in Seoul, South Korea, on October 20.
October will also be the month for EU summits with China in Beijing and Russia in Paris. The French EU presidency will tie in the African-bloc countries to this aggressive diplomacy, with ministerial talks scheduled for November in Botswana with the Southern African Development Council.
Continuing their thrust into the southern Mediterranean, the French presidency hopes to organize an unprecedented meeting of EU and Middle East leaders in Marseilles during mid-November.
This rapid-fire tour de force of French-led EU diplomacy will consummate on December 18 with summit meetings in Washington and Canada.
But the peak achievement of the French period in the EU presidential seat will be the conclusion of the next treaty on European Union, due to be signed in Nice on December 8. It seems that the EU will thus enter 2001 with a fresh treaty (probably marginalizing Britain even more than it now is) and strengthened strategic relationships—all resulting from this French-led season of diplomacy with key global players in the ongoing game of cut-and-thrust in international politics.