Obama’s agenda closely watched

Turkey
Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University
 
The presidential election on 4 November 2008 was watched carefully all over the world. New US President, Barack Obama, has been one of the strong opponents of the neo-conservatives and their hawkish methods in the conduct of foreign policy. In this sense, his election strengthened the hopes for a change in the United States’ unilateral approach to world politics as well as the re-vitalization of transatlantic relationships. During the Bush Presidency, the EU-US relations became estranged as a result of disagreements over issues ranging from the Iraq War to the Kyoto Treaty. On the other hand, the foreign policy openings of Barak Obama, though not yet clearly launched, are signalling revitalisation and the multilateralism both in foreign policy and economy. In Turkey, these entire developments assessed cautiously to deduce some conclusions from the effects of the revitalised transatlantic relations.
 

Swedish views on top priorities in transatlantic cooperation

Sweden
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
 
Relations between Europe and the United States are generally in Sweden considered as facing a particular opportunity for improvement with the new President, who in Sweden, as elsewhere in Europe, has become very popular.
 
Three particular issues can be envisaged. One of them is the American role in regard to global security. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, sees few things as more important during the coming year than to strengthen understanding between this new United States and the European Union. It is only through this partnership, he claims, that we have the possibility to take on the big global challenges – and to engage the other countries that are also decisive for success.[1]
 
Another issue often mentioned concerns the American role in overcoming the present financial crisis. For this, Sweden sees it as essential that the US choose a non-protectionist approach.[2]
 

Spanish priorities for a re-definition or re-vitalisation of transatlantic relations

Spain
Elcano Royal Institute
 
According to the Spanish preponderant view, the three top priorities for a re-definition or re-vitalisation of the transatlantic and EU-US relationship would be:
 
a)       An effective and co-ordinated management of the global financial crisis.
b)       New approach to security and peace-building complementing military action with soft power tools in order to deal with new conflicts and their causes. In this context, Spain believes that the ‘Alliance of Civilizations’, proposed to the UN by Prime Minister Zapatero in 2005, could be a relevant instrument to defeat violence.
c)       A new US approach to efficient multilateralism beyond security affairs, especially with respect to the fight against climate change, the international law and cooperation in the fields of education, research and development.
 

Renewal of strategic dialogue and EU capable to deliver

Slovenia
Centre of International Relations
 
The three top priorities as seen by the Slovenian government for the revitalisation of the EU-US relations can be summarised as: (i) mutual understanding of a need for a truly strategic partnership, (ii) continuous dialogue and strengthening of relations on political relations and global political issues and (iii) strengthening of bilateral economic relations.
 
In the course of the Bush presidency the understanding of, what are common threats and challenges faced by the EU and the US have grown apart and undermined the political relations between the EU (perceived largely by the US as individual member states) and the US. The world has also changed in between; therefore, there is no simple return to the comfortable relations of the 1990s. Amidst understanding that there are different historic reasons for the relations between the EU and the US, revitalisation of relations should be based on respect for multilateralism and rule of law.
 

A strategic partnership – to be continued on European premises

Romania
European Institute of Romania
 
In light of Romania’s strategic partnership with the United States, a partnership achieved during the eight year tenure of George W. Bush that meant a strong Romanian military commitment in the combat areas in both Iraq and Afghanistan and materialised in the US support for Romania’s bid to become a NATO member. Romania’s orientation in terms of foreign policy was generally regarded as pro-American. In the pre-EU accession period, this meant that Romania’s position was contrary to that of some of the most prominent EU member states – as it happened for example over the divisive issue of Iraq. After becoming an EU member state, Romania generally backed the points of a common Euro-Atlantic agenda. The notable exception was the issue of Kosovo, when Romania went against the US view and that of the majority of the EU member states, citing the need to abide by the rule of respect of a state’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and opposing Kosovo’s independence.
 

EU must engage new US-Presidency to deal with Bush inheritance

Portugal
Institute for Strategic and International Studies
 
The year 2009 is certainly a year of great uncertainties regarding the future of the EU after the Irish ‘No’, particularly when this will be coupled with the unknown impact of the current financial and economic crisis, that seems to many more structural than simply a cyclical recession. But it may also be a year of opportunities. It will certainly be a year of great expectations of change in transatlantic relations and even in global politics with the arrival of President Obama at the White House.[1] The combination of these factors seems to point to 2009 as a year of both great opportunities and great challenges in terms of the future of the EU and of global governance.
 

Joy and optimism in light of a new US President

Poland
Foundation for European Studies - European Institute
 
Radek Sikorski, Poland’s Foreign Minister, hailed Barack Obama’s election victory as “a joyful moment” and “a renewal of faith of Americans in their national mythology.”[1]
 
The Minister went on to predict “great” relations between Poland and the U.S, and described Obama as a “charismatic” and “unbelievably intelligent” man. Sikorski was instrumental in signing the missile defense deal with America earlier this year, a project that Obama also backed, provided that the system was not directed at Russia.
 
Poland’s Foreign Minister has rather intimate relations with the U.S, as his wife, distinguished historian Anne Applebaum, is herself an American citizen.




[1] Source: Cracow Life, 7 November 2008.

US – EU relations and global challenges

Netherlands
Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’
 
The Netherlands has high and numerous expectations of new President Obama, but the most important one is that he will restore the transatlantic relationship.[1] Foreign Minister Verhagen has pointed out on several occasions that close cooperation between Europe and the US is needed in order to combat global challenges.[2] The government has indicated that it looks forward to cooperation on a broad range of issues. There are however four particular policy priorities that are mentioned most often: the financial crisis, climate change, the conflict in the Middle East, and international terrorism. These issues are also frequently referred to in the Dutch media.
 
Early initiatives by Obama with regard to these priorities have already been received positively by the Netherlands. It welcomed for instance, his decision to close Guantánamo Bay, as well as the appointment of top diplomats George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke as Special Representatives to the Middle East, and Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively.