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Europe and the World according to Johannes Swoboda

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Interview with Johannes Swoboda, member of the European Parliaments Committee on Foreign Affairs

Johannes Swoboda is a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights and Common Foreign and Security Policy. He is vice president of the Parliamentary Group of the Party of European Socialists and member of the Austrian Social Democrat Party.

Cafébabel: In your opinion, how important was Europes role in forming the Provisional Government of Afghanistan?

The European Union and its member states were deeply involved in the constitution of a new government. Their role was particularly important at the Bonn Conference which took place during November and December 2001. The European Unions main demand was the presence and active participation of ethnic and political groups within the newly formed government.

Cafébabel: What are the economic implications for Europe in this war?

To answer your question in rather a roundabout way, stabilisation of the situation in Afghanistan will stimulate and revitalize the regions economy. Better infrastructure, inter-state cooperation and the arrival of development aid programmes from the UN and the EU should help kick start the economy.

Cafébabel: Following the collapse of the Taliban regime, what direction do you think the international situation will take and how do you envisage the future role of Europe?

The EU is adjusting to its new role under the Common Foreign and Security Policy. This is no easy task considering the extremely complex decision-making mechanisms associated with CFSP. However, it is important not to underestimate the progress Europe has made in terms of both its humanitarian and its military role.

Cafébabel: To what extent can the Islamic communities based in Europe influence European Foreign Policy?

Common Foreign Policy is decided in the various institutions of the EU. Interest groups and religious groups have no final say on Foreign Policy. They often make suggestions but the final decision falls to the institutions.

Cafébabel: What effects are the Taliban crisis and the new crusade against terrorism likely to have on relations between the US and Europe?

The United States and Europe agree on the need to combat international terrorism. However, their foreign policies have been shaped by different experiences over the course of history. In the years to come, a new transatlantic balance will emerge, in line with the capabilities of each member of the alliance. Expressions such as the axis of evil tend to disregard the complexities of the issue and do not contribute in any useful way to the formulation of an appropriate policy for the region.

Translated from L'Europe et le monde selon Johannes Swoboda