Blog AnalysisEU diplomacy

Carl and Radek. Two voices of European diplomacy take off

Bildt and Sikorski in Warsaw in 2008 (credit: MSZ - Min. Polish Foreign Affairs)
Bildt and Sikorski in Warsaw in 2008 (credit: MSZ – Min. Polish Foreign Affiliate)

(BRUSSELS2) With the departure of Carl Bildt and Radoslaw Sikorski, the Swede due to the electoral defeat of his party, the Pole due to internal government reshuffle (following the departure of Tusk to Brussels), these are two “heavyweight” ministers ” that the European Union is losing. Two outspoken ministers, with very “clear-cut” positions, particularly on relations with Russia, but also on the near neighborhood, the Balkans, the future of Europe. Two personalities with whom one could disagree, even be opposed, but who gave meaning to the European idea.

Strong positions, particularly on Russia

With them, we didn't really procrastinate. And the world was simple. Russia was the enemy that needed to be punished. Europeans and Americans should present a united front. Ukraine was an ally that had to be wrested from a Russian oppressor (see also: Bye bye Yanukovych!). The “Eastern Partnership” is a bit like their baby. They spared no effort, multiplying joint initiatives, letters, trips to Georgia, Moldova or Ukraine, the two found themselves almost everywhere in Brussels or elsewhere. Sweden had taken a very avant-garde position on democracy in Belarus; the parachuting of bears carrying human rights messages had sowed more than quarrel between Stockholm and Minsk (read: Between Belarus and Sweden, the rag burns). The “hardliners” camp facing Russia thus loses two of its main lawyers (without forgetting the departure of the British William Hague).

Nuances however

However, both were not short of nuances or complexities. We remember in particular the strong criticism addressed by Radek Sikorski – private conversation stolen in a Warsaw restaurant – against Polish political personnel whom he accused of being under the thumb of the Americans (read on the Club: The American policy of Poland: bullshit! (Sikorsky) or the United Kingdom (a country he knows well having had nationality), judging London too reluctant to play the European game. Its greatest success has undoubtedly been to rebuild ties with European partners, somewhat damaged after the Kaszinsky era, and even with Russia (this was before the Ukrainian episode). Poland counts today on the European scene, perhaps a little more than its simple economic and democratic weight. And it’s a bit to Sikorski (like Donald Tusk) that she owes it. Carl Bildt had also taken strong positions on certain human rights issues, notably judging the Europeans too soft on the coup d'état in Egypt (read: Egypt. Cautious Europeans. Bildt wants to go further) and his own opinion on the situation in the Balkans inherited from his experience as special envoy of the EU and then the UN in the region. He also defended a certain idea of ​​European defense, even if Sweden has recently become involved rather timidly in European missions (Mali and CAR). In short, we weren't bored with them...

Bringing the voice of Europe to the world

Above all, both had the ambition of carrying, a little further, the “voice” of Europe in the world. They had thus launched an initiative with their Spanish and Italian colleagues to have a common analysis of European world politics (read: Four countries for a stronger Europe in the world).

A certain European ambition

These two personalities naturally aspired to take on greater responsibilities at the European or NATO level. Their names were mentioned, one to take the post of NATO Secretary General (in place of Rasmussen), both to take the post of High Representative, at different times (Bildt especially 5 years ago , Sirkoski more recently). But they didn't get those positions. Whatever their opinion we might share or not, their departure constitutes a certain loss for Europe.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(*) Sikorski is expected to take the post of majority leader of the Civic Platform in the Diet – the national parliament. As for Carl Bildt, I bet we will see him again at some point on the public stage.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).