The European Union must integrate its defense capability – “something that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cannot veto,” Guy Verhofstadt, a MEP and former Belgian prime minister who chaired a civil conference on the future of Europe, told Kathimerini in Greece.
Verhofstadt also rejects the idea of compromise with Russia under President Vladimir Putin and calls for bold reform. EUas the bloc’s most effective security and defense policy.
How do you assess Turkey’s position regarding the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO? Do you think that in the end there may be problems with the accession of the two countries?
Let’s see how it goes. The pressure on Turkey will be very serious, and especially the mentioned reasons for not admitting these countries make the veto problematic. NATO cannot afford to be stymied in its very raison d’etre by uniting to secure the North Atlantic for the malicious and fabricated reasons of one member.
Some demand the continuation of the war in order to weaken Putin. Others advocate a compromise to mitigate the adverse effects on security and the economy. What do you think should be the goal of Europe in this war?
Compromise? People using the word have ignored it since February 24th. The invasion itself went much further than most experts expected, and since then, the brutality on the ground in Ukraine and Moscow has increased rather than decreased. Do not forget, we have been trying to reach a compromise with Putin since at least 2014: both in Syria and in Belarus … What did this bring us, except for contempt from the insolent Kremlin?!
The only way – in fact the only way to mitigate the effects of Putin’s war – is to strengthen our side: unite politically and militarily, including Ukraine and other countries in the regions neighboring Russia. Hence the decision of Sweden and Finland, as well as the referendum in Denmark. And join forces economically, with a key role for the European Union, so that we can amplify or mitigate the impact in terms of energy supply, social costs and economic impact. Together we can do it. No single country will.
How do you imagine the near future? Some argue that the US and Europe should not completely destroy bridges with Russia, even with Putin in power.
Who knows what will happen next … In military terms, Russia has clearly overdone it. But a wounded animal can be dangerous: we are witnessing a protracted conflict with a barely stable Ukraine and all the military, economic, energy and food risks that come with it. Or will Putin eventually be removed, and who will take his place?
There are fewer hopes in Russia than even a few years ago. There is no need to talk about public opinion. Only henchmen and collaborators remained around the Kremlin. You might hope that in the end they will be frustrated enough by the sanctions to rebel against the man who ended their beautiful life. In fact, we should target them much more, the entire backbone of the regime, so that they are sufficiently disappointed. But do they offer much hope for a more stable, somewhat democratic regime in the future?
Our only hope lies in what we can do for ourselves: support Ukraine, put pressure on the Russian regime, and work together. Integrate and improve our defense capabilities, with the defense of the EU as a reliable and strong pillar of NATO, which Erdogan cannot veto. And with a stronger European Union in areas where this long war will be waged, such as energy and critical industrial resources.
We need to reinvent our own sense of sovereignty through the reform of the European Union.