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Europe

EU's Solana Chides Washington over Unilateralism

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Hungary this week said the United States and the European Union needed to work together to make the world safer. But he admitted Washington often preferred to act unilaterally.

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Don't be angry, Javier

Solana made his remarks Tuesday in Budapest, shortly after US Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to shore up support for America’s Iraq policies in the Hungary capital.

Speaking in Budapest at the annual meeting of Hungarian ambassadors and other officials, Solana had some harsh words for the United States. He suggested that as a “big military power”, Washington seems at times out of touch with the international community.

“We disagree about the death penalty," he said. "We disagree about the International Tribunal. We disagree about all these things linked to multilateralism in which we believe and (in which) they believe less. And to a certain extent the big military power may probably think that it is not necessary (to have) the rule based societies. But for us we believe that the rule based societies are fundamental.”

A need to improve relations

Solana said the US was willing “to grant the European Union full partnership status” adding that the American-led invasion of Iraq, which was opposed by many Europeans, “clearly proved” that both have to improve relations.

He also made clear that the fight against terrorism that began after the Sept. 11 attacks cannot be won by military means.

Powell urges Hungary to stay in Iraq

Ungarischer Soldat USA Militärflughafen Taszar in Ungarn

Iraqis were trained in Hungary to fight against the army of former dictator Saddam Hussein

Speaking at the same meeting earlier, Powell urged Hungary to stay in Iraq with its 300-strong continent as this would send a message to other Eastern European nations where pressure is mounting to withdraw forces.

Powell hopes that Hungary and other countries that abandoned communism will follow the example of Bulgaria which rebuffed calls at home to pull out its 480 troops despite the recent beheading by militants of two truck drivers.

“Foreign Minister (Solomon) Passy said that while all Bulgarians and all civilized people were saddened by what happened, the people of Bulgaria will not let kidnappers hold hostage the freedom of eight million Bulgarians in addition to the two they murdered," Powell said. "It is that kind of courage that will be needed.”

Budapest complies

In response, Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs made clear that his Socialist-led government will not withdraw its forces from Iraq, before their mandate expires at the end of this year.

"Your kind words about our contribution to the stabilization in Iraq or Afghanistan encouraged me to say that we are going to continue that," Kovacs said.

Wiederaufbau in Irak Brücke

U.S. Navy Seabees work on the construction of a pontoon bridge on the river Tigris in Iraq

But Kovacs also stressed that while Hungary is willing to take part in military cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the government was also eager to reap economic benefits from the reconstruction of the two countries. He was referring to the billions of dollars in reconstruction contracts that will go to countries taking part in the US-led coalition in Iraq.

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