The European Union has made great strides in recent years, but can still become stronger if it develops a more unified foreign policy, former President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland said during a speech yesterday afternoon in ICC Auditorium.

Kwasniewski, who joined the School of Foreign Service faculty as a distinguished scholar in the practice of global leadership last arch after his term ended in December 2005, said that the EU must create a common foreign policy for Africa, the Middle East and the United States in the coming years. He said that such a policy would lessen the temptation for member nations to “play different games with different places.”

Kwasniewski added that unity within the EU will be particularly important in dealing with energy issues.

The EU must also better define its relationship with Russia, Kwasniewski said. He said that the relationship between the two has historically been complicated because Russia has never clearly defined its policies on relations with the EU. Russia is not a member of the EU.

Kwasniewski said that Russia wants all of the benefits of membership without the obligations that come with them, including adherence to certain standards of human rights.

“They want to be close to the EU, but they are not ready to accept the preconditions of having common European policy. They are ready to accept some privileges, but they are not interested in having the same levels of contacts with all European members,” Kwasniewski said. “In such politics, Russia tries to use privileges to try to keep some countries like Poland in gray zones.”

Kwasniewski said the EU should respond to Russia’s ambivalence by inviting it to participate in all European activities, but should refuse to accept any unfavorable treatment, particularly with regard to oil and gas policies.

“Russia has oil and gas; Europe needs oil and gas. The problem begins when Russia started to use gas and oil as a political instrument,” he said. “When gas and oil stopped being delivered it creates fear.”

The former president also said that he supports the EU’s recent push toward enlargement, including this year’s addition of Romania and Bulgaria into the union. He also praised Europe’s economy, which he said may not be “the fastest growing, but is still in good shape.”

The speech was sponsored by the office of the university president.

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