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“Old Europe” Likes New President

  • November 5th, 2008
  • Posted by EUEditor

obama-reduced.jpgNo immediate reports of dancing in the streets in Europe — wrong time of day for all that — but clear signs of happiness over the election of Barack Obama, in America, (4.11.08, USA).

Failing relations since the 2003 falling-out over the Iraqi war — when US officials derided the less gung-ho ways of “Old Europe” – were reflected in wholesale condemnation of the George Bush Republican Party in European opinion polls, (See EUAustralia, “Europeans want change in USA”, 3.11.08).

Tensions might yet re-emerge should the new President ask the NATO allies for additional troops for Afghanistan. The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, quickly observed that current challenges would demand “even stronger cooperation and solidarity” among friends.

Signs on election night however were mostly on the optimistic side.

Italy’s conservative Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, welcomed the liberal new leader. Italy would remain a “faithful ally”, he said, predicting friendship and cooperation would “continue to grow”.

The socialist Prime Minister in Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, declared the US vote was “a triumph carrying hope and confidence for a world in difficulty.”

In Moscow they were being positive as well. The Foreign Minister, Grigori Karassine, spoke of a “wind of change” to renew relations with Washington, and bring “constructive solutions” to crisis in the world economy.

The President of the French National Assembly, Bernard Accoyer, got in smartly with an invitation to Senator Obama to address the often fractious parliament on his first Presidential visit to Paris.

Not so euphorically, the Vatican spoke of the “immense responsibility to the world” of the US Presidency; and Stipe Mesic, President of Croatia, issued a reminder that former Yugoslavia would need attention, still distressed by the consequences of war – both conjuring up thoughts of many more hard jobs ahead for Barack Obama.


BBC, London, “BBC Correspondents: What the world expects …”., (5.11.08)

“Minute par minute: les elections americaines en continu”, (Minute by minute: the US elections unfold), Le Monde, Paris, 5.11.08., (5.11.08)

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), “Secretary General congratulates President-elect Obama”, Media Release, Brussels, 5.11.08., (5.11.08).