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23 October, 1999
Veteran British diplomat Lord David Owen lent his support to the European Union's eventual expansion eastwards, at some point including even Russia and Turkey, as he stressed, during an address at the foreign ministry yesterday.
The former EU special mediator for Bosnia and foreign secretary, however, emphasized that today's 15-nation bloc will not soon become one nation, "but a union of identifiable nations."
"No one after Kosovo can see Europe as a single nation. If you did and forced it, consequences would be dire," he said.
As expected, parallels between Bosnia and Kosovo as well as the entire issue of Yugoslavia's break-up after 1991 often dominated Lord Owen's remarks.
"Reality is that the Kosovo war provided a devastating insight into how such a single European army, let alone a state, would have acted were it ever to exist...There might have been insufficient will to have ever used force in Kosovo, certainly here in
Greece the vast majority were against the war. If a European president had authorized air attacks they would have been quickly followed by a bombing pause, as was suggested by Germany and Italy, and as we well know, it would have never have re-started," he said.
In further analyzing Greece's stance during the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia, Lord Owen added: "Greece used the flexibility of NATO's consensus to agree to disagree with other states, and you managed to hold a distinctive critical position on a Balkan is sue while remaining committed to your NATO loyalties."
He used the same analogy to argue against a qualified majority regime in the EU, stressing that he often fought "as a minority of one" in the EU ministers' councils of the early '90s to prevent the Union from colliding with member-state Greece and recognizing the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) only as "Macedonia" ? a name Athens vigorously objected to then and now.
In referring to possible autonomy or even independence for the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo, he said strict conditions -- such as an overall settlement of borders among the states that comprised former Yugoslavia, i.e. a swap of Bosnia's territory for Kosovo, as well as an initial prohibition over any Kosovo union with Albania -- would have to be agreed upon beforehand. He also stressed that the territorial integrity of FYROM should be guaranteed.
"FYROM's borders should be sacrosanct," he said. In terms of NATO's role, he said the Alliance "has shown us in Europe that those who argued after 1989 that there would be no role for NATO and who then accused NATO of inventing a role in order to prolong its existence have been totally wrong."
Source: Athens News Agency