Joschka Fischer back at Humboldt University

Joschka Fischer Humboldt University March 2007On the invitation of his friend Dany Cohn-Bendit and the European Green Party (EGP), Joschka Fischer returned last night to the auditorium of my Humboldt University in Berlin.

In his very first comment he addressed the media and insisted that this speech is not a return to German politics but simply a favour and contribution for the Green debate.

Joschka’s speech (in German) then was largely derived from his global perspective and dealing with issues of foreign policy (or the EU’s lack of it). His central assumption was the idea of European interests that need to be defined and pursued together. What I found interesting were his comments more in the second half. One of his surprising comments was that “if I had to decide between the federalist and the intergourvernementalist approach, I would always choose the federalist”. However, he added that “federalism is the dream”.

Joschka asked the Green audience “Do you really think that there is one interest that even the biggest EU member state can defend alone today?!” Power is a deciding factor and the reason for France and the UK to loose success in this world is that they are simply not powerful anymore. With regards to Europe’s role on the global security issues he stated that “it is dramatic when central concerns like the US missile defence system are not discussed by EU as a whole”.
The issue of Kerneuropa was one he also got back to. For him it has always been a debate of fear. And also fear of the greatness of the challanges Europe is facing. However, this does not mean that one cannot have differentiated levels of integration in particular areas.

Joschka commented positively on the notion of Constitution in the current institutional situation. What I feel is often a very German debate on the name, is not one he takes particularly serious. According to Joschka the notion of Constitution was necessary for the Convention to get out of ingergovernmental Nice Europe. How the revised text will be called “ist mir egal” he said.

All in all I found his speech good but not overly exciting. He presented a good analysis of where Europe is standing in the global arena (“the Indian foreign minister told us in a speech last week that there are three powers in this century: the US, China and India – no mentioning of Europe”). However, he was falling short of going deeper into the issues of institutional reform and which exact mechanisms need to be changed institutionally to really work on a coherent energy, climate and foreign policy.

Some further reporting can be found on Spiegel Online, the German Greens’ website and the 173612.joschka_fischer_addresses_egp_council_an {at} en(.)htm">EGP.

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