Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280-299)|
Mr Robert Cooper and Mr Richard Crowder
30 JUNE 2008
Q280 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Wearing
a hejab, of course!
Mr Cooper: Of course! This time we gave
out copies of the proposal we put to the Iranians, several newspapers
have published it and it has excited a certain amount of debate
within Iran, which was one of the things we hoped would happen,
but I do not think we are expecting this to come to fruition this
Q281 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Presumably
the Iranians also have a tactical problem about how to get from
now until the installation of the new American President without
any nasty experiences.
Mr Cooper: Yes. I do not know, they are
very difficult people to understand.
Q282 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Yes,
but it must be on their minds.
Mr Cooper: I guess so, but they are very
good at concealing what is on their minds. (The answer continued
off the record)
Q283 Chairman: One of the things
which has developed and one can see is more than hinted at, proposed
within the Security Strategy, is the development of the European
Mr Cooper: Yes.
Q284 Chairman: One wonders how far
the pursuit of stability and specific interests such as energy
security sometimes seem to take precedence over the promotion
of democracy, good governance and human rights in the neighbourhood.
Our approaches to Belarus and Algeria are not identical.
Mr Cooper: Right.
Q285 Chairman: What do we do about
Mr Cooper: I am reluctant to fall back
on the old Foreign Office standard saying we deal with these things
on a case-by-case basis.
Q286 Chairman: With respect, the
problem about that is we differentiate, but one of the difficulties
is if you have something called a Neighbourhood Policy, if you
then have things on the one hand called a Union for the Mediterranean,
which looks as if you are treating people rather homogenously,
and if you have an Eastern Partnership for other countries, there
seems to be a contradiction between the positive conditionality
which you are talking about in one area and, on the other hand,
trying to group people together into all being part of a common
Mr Cooper: The reality is that the way
in which the Neighbourhood Policy operates, and you have probably
heard this from the Commission, is that those who really want
to move forward can move forward and get support in moving forward.
If you look at where the money goes, you will see that a whole
lot more goes to Morocco than it does to Algeria just because
the Moroccans are interested in the kind of development that we
are trying to encourage.
Q287 Chairman: On the other hand,
you talk about making special arrangements with Israel in spite
of the fact that perhaps as far as settlements and opening up
travel in the West Bank are not altogether fitting into things
which in the Middle East Peace Process we would have expected.
Mr Cooper: The language in the Council
Conclusions on Israel was very carefully worded. The Israelis
have chosen to present it in one particular way, but I do not
think that is the way everybody here sees it.
Q288 Chairman: I shall re-read it.
In the Strategy you do call on the European Union to be more "active,
capable and coherent" and, indeed, there have been some efforts
made. I wonder how far you feel that the EU has delivered on that
commitment in the original Strategy. To some extent that takes
us forward to a Lisbon or Lisbon-minus agenda.
Mr Cooper: I do not think the European
Union has had a problem with being active. Capable, I think we
have still got some way to go. Here in Brussels we have improved
our organisation in the five year period, we are more capable
of handling the very large deployment in Kosovo now than we were
five years ago, for example, but there are capability questions,
which we discussed earlier. The big challenge is coherence and
that is connected to the Treaty, on the one hand, and it is also
connected to a bit more. I ask myself sometimes if all of our
activity really fits into a kind of coherent political objective
Q289 Lord Hamilton of Epsom: As the
greatest supporter and believer in this room, other than you,
of your document, you could argue that actually the EU has been
able to do what on earth it likes, expanded its activities in
many different directions ever since the day you printed it and,
therefore, there is even less rationale for rewriting it.
Mr Cooper: Yes. I am not in favour of
Q290 Lord Hamilton of Epsom: Or even
adding to it. It covers everything really, so if we add bits on
all we are doing is emphasising certain bits more than they were
Mr Cooper: I am certainly in favour of
trying to take some clearer steps in the direction that we want
to go, particularly on the capability front.
Q291 Lord Hamilton of Epsom: I think
we agreed that would be an addendum, did we not?
Mr Cooper: Yes, certainly. As far as
coherence is concerned, partly that is a story about the Treaty.
That is such a big thing that the rest is not so important. It
is also a question of it being a day-to-day struggle to ensure
that one has a viable political strategy surrounding all of the
things that you do.
Q292 Lord Anderson of Swansea: The
2003 document referred to working with partners. We have had five
years' experience of that working and in your judgment in what
way should a revised document envisage that form of working with
partners? The same partners, new partners, different forms of
mix, clusters of partners?
Mr Cooper: Things have changed a bit
in five years. China is a much more prominent player now than
it was five years ago and begins to look much more like a potential
partner than it did five years ago. Although the Chinese have
not rushed forward eagerly in these areas, you find in areas like
Darfur and Burma a different Chinese response now from five years
ago. That is a bit of the landscape which has changed most prominently.
Q293 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Accepting
international obligations in a way that they would not have done
Mr Cooper: Yes. In a rather narrow area,
in Chad we have the first Russian participation, in a ESDP operation
with the contribution of helicopters, and that seems to me to
be a good thing.
Q294 Lord Anderson of Swansea: Presumably
the partners at that time included private sector partners, NGOs
and so on, or did one have in mind simply the other organisations?
Mr Cooper: No, we were thinking internationally
of partners. We do work very much with NGOs in some areas, for
example in Kosovo. In preparation of the police rule of law operation
in Kosovo there has been very extensive contact with the NGOs
who know that sector very well.
Q295 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: This
question of partners leads one always back to China, Russia and
the United States, and probably beyond that India, although it
is not the quite same order of priority because at the moment
the Indians do not seem to be very big players on the international
Mr Cooper: Except in the UN, of course.
Q296 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Yes,
but they are negative, they are defensive players, so they are
not really on the same side as us. I suppose we could try to make
them slightly less tiresome. Given that is so, that it always
leads you back to China, Russia and so on, is there going to be
any way in which the review of the Security Strategy can actually
lead to a qualitative improvement in the way that Europe handles
these things? Is there any way in which the review is going to
point towards a better performance in that?
Mr Cooper: I am afraid to say I come
back to the Lisbon Treaty. I think the Lisbon Treaty would have
been helpful on this point because it makes much clearer who is
in charge of putting forward proposals. When you have 27 people
around the table somebody needs to make a proposal. Now, no doubt,
what you agree, because it is by consensus, is going to end up
fuzzier than that, but at least you can start with some clear
proposals and priorities and it would be much easier to do that
if you had one structure, one person clearly in charge. For me,
that is the best way of getting round that. It also potentially
makes the dialogue with the third parties a bit more meaningful.
I do not know if Lord Hannay perhaps has participated in troika
meetings at some point or other.
Q297 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: No,
Mr Cooper: Well, there we are, I do not
have to explain to you what they were like.
Q298 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: No.
Mr Cooper: They are not a very useful
way of communicating with people. In the end communication takes
place between two individuals, not between enlarged teams on both
sides. For me, that would be the best way of producing a bit more
sharpness into the way in which we conduct these things.
Q299 Chairman: This was illustrated
to us when we were looking at the way in which the Quartet works
within the Middle East Peace Process, that in fact it is
Mr Cooper: Sextet.