Courtesy Shani Senbetta Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio spoke Tuesday to students and guests about her concerns with the European Union

Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio addressed a capacity-crowd in Riggs Library last night, reflecting on the leadership required following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which she called a watershed event in world history.

“In times of trouble it is better to have guidance of some sort than no guidance at all,” Palacio said.

Prior to Sept. 11, terrorism was not considered an issue to be addressed from a domestic angle, Palacio said. She stressed that small groups have shown their potential for inciting colossal devastation and, thus, an approach based on homeland defense is not enough. Palacio emphasized the importance of worldwide cooperation in bolstering security and promoting prosperity.

Palacio also discussed the future of Europe and the development of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, which aims to transform the editerranean region into a cooperative conglomerate of countries guaranteeing peace and stability in the region.

“We need a Europe firmly anchored in the editerranean,” she said. “[The Mediterranean] has been the intersection of globalization for 21 centuries and indeed remains so.”

Today, the “Wider Europe” initiative, which arose from what has been dubbed the Barcelona Process, is based on the conviction that the EU’s enlargement in May 2004, which represents a historic step for the European continent, also presents a unique opportunity to strengthen cooperation and interdependence with those countries that will soon find themselves at the EU’s frontiers. One of several aims of the Barcelona Process was to develop the rule of law and democracy in those countries’ political systems, she explained.

Palacio expressed concern at the question of whether the benefits of the European Union would be sufficiently attractive to such Mediterranean countries as Jordan, Morocco and Israel, to gain their support. Currently, the income gap between the north and south Mediterranean continues to grow, she said.

Palacio addressed Europe’s demand for greater democratization stating that the Islamic democratic experience had been incomplete. She also discussed the difficulties in effectively combining democracy with Islam because an overwhelming number of Islamic states have historically been anti-democratic. Looking to dispel a worldwide opinion that Europe is increasingly looking inward, Palacio said that the European Union is laboring to strengthen its might.

With its biggest-ever expansion set for May 2004, the EU will soon have borders with several new neighbors, Palacio said. Perhaps the most interesting and unforeseen of these neighbors is Iraq, should the European Union choose to add Turkey.

Many think there is a need for the EU to formulate an ambitious, long-term and integrated approach toward each of these countries, with the objective of promoting democratic and economic reforms, and sustainable development and trade, thus helping to ensure greater stability and prosperity at and beyond the new borders of the EU, Palacio said.

As a member of the European Parliament, Palacio has an extensive political career including membership in the Bureau of the European People’s Party and European Democrats and chairperson of both the Conference of Committee Chairmen and the Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms, Rights, Justice and Home Affairs.

The BMW Center for German and European Studies, the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Georgetown University Lecture Fund sponsored the event.

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