Muslim Wire

Ex-Foreign Minister Of Austria Joins IOP

Posted in Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 29, 2009

Former Foreign Minister of Austria Ursula Plassnik will join the Institute of Politics as a visiting fellow this week.

As Foreign Minister, Plassnik addressed the expansion of the European Union and the growing significance of Islam in European affairs. Her name is now among those mentioned for Foreign Minister to the EU, a post that would be created under the Lisbon Treaty, which aims to reform the workings of the EU.

Plassnik sat down for an interview with The Crimson yesterday to talk about new developments in European politics.

THC: How do you think the notion of religious pluralism will play out in Europe’s future?

UP: As of now, there are 20 to 30 million Muslims in the European Union. This means that we already have to manage religious pluralism. My hope is that Islam in Europe will be a combination of European citizenship and attachment to the fundamental values of European societies and a religious identity as a Muslim.

THC: Austrians generally remain somewhat opposed to Turkish membership in the EU. Do you think this will eventually change?

UP: I would rather say that Austrians remain strongly opposed, not even somewhat opposed, to Turkish membership in the EU. We all agree that we should have as close as possible a relationship with our Turkish partners. We want a modern Turkey that adopts truly European standards, and this is what we’re currently negotiating with Turkey. There are a number of obstacles that have to be overcome, and, as of now, we cannot seriously determine whether Turkey will one day be a full member of the EU. I’m aware that our Turkish friends do not like to hear this message, but it is a message that I have been persistently giving to them. It’s not an anti-Turkish message, but it is a tone of realism.

THC: How much, in practicality, do you believe the EU nations will be able to subordinate their foreign policy to a common foreign policy under the Lisbon Treaty?

UP: Henry Kissinger requested a single telephone number for European Foreign Policy a long time ago. As of January 1, 2010, I’m convinced he will have such a telephone number. This does not necessarily mean there will be a single European foreign policy on all matters. There will be 27 national foreign policies as before, but they will be acting more and more in concert.

THC: If you are asked to serve as the EU foreign minister under the Lisbon Treaty, do you plan to accept?

UP: Let’s not go into speculation. From my experience, European foreign policy is still very much of a boy’s club.

THC: Do you believe Tony Blair is right for the post of EU President?

UP: I have never made a secret of my thinking on Tony Blair. I have experienced his leadership as a member of the European Council for a number of years, and I think he has extraordinary leadership capacity. Having made what some consider a major mistake in my mind does not per se disqualify a leader for future responsibilities. I think with his broad experience, including the failures, he could be a good choice.

—Staff writer Evan T.R. Rosenman can be reached at erosenm@fas.harvard.edu.

http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=529785

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