Angela Merkel warns of dividing forces in EU
BERLIN, Oct 14: German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of dividing forces in the European Union and issued a plea for more unity across the continent, speaking at an award ceremony speech in Spain on Thursday.
"Let's not kid ourselves: Centrifugal forces have been at work in the EU for several years now," Merkel said after receiving the Carlos V award, saying that such dividing powers arise when the EU fails to fulfil its promises and social and economic differences are allowed to grow too large. "Europe is only as strong as it is united," she said.
Without naming names, Merkel, who is set to give up the chancellor role after 16 years once a new German government has formed, added that the EU would be in trouble if national interests were put above its mutual success. Poland's top court recently challenged the primacy of EU law, fuelling talk that Poland could one day quit the 27-nation bloc.
Unity is also important in contending with powers outside the EU, Merkel said. "How we deal with the rise of China as an economic, political and military power ... depends very much on whether Europe really speaks with one voice," Merkel said.
China's military power is beginning to match its economic power. Its goal is to have forces by 2049 that can fight and win global wars. China's strategy of 'military-civil fusion' is designed to incorporate innovative civilian technologies into military systems. The US and European states are seeking to tighten export controls to slow down China's defence and security modernisation.
China is investing in the Arctic in ways that could have security implications. NATO and the EU have been reluctant to treat the Arctic as a potential theatre of great power military rivalry, but if the Chinese presence in the region continues to grow they will have to take Arctic security more seriously. China's assertiveness in the East and South China Seas threatens Europe's democratic partners in the Asia-Pacific region. Europeans should work with their partners on sharing intelligence and joint planning.
Europe is watching nervously to see whether China and the US are caught in the so-called Thucydides Trap, in which conflict between the rising power and the status quo power becomes inevitable. Despite historical examples of such conflicts, however, the US and China are not in the same situation as Athens and Sparta: they are economically interdependent and nuclear armed. -REUTERS