As people around the world mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the European Union’s ambassador to the United States expresses Europe’s solidarity with the US. Stavros Lambrinidis tells FRANCE 24 that at the moment of the atrocities, “it became supremely clear that democracies and our values were being attacked, not just a particular tower in a particular country”.
Twenty years on, after the US pullout and Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the ambassador says there are multiple areas of concern for Europeans: “protecting Afghans, dealing with potential migration and refugee flows, the drug trade, or terrorism and radicalisation”.
“As Europeans we have a direct interest in what happens in Afghanistan,” Stavros Lambrinidis told FRANCE 24’s Catherine Nicholson.
When asked whether European partners would have less confidence in the US after leaders in Washington failed to consult with them about the pullout, he said: “It would be a tragedy if Afghanistan became a moment where Americans and Europeans decouple – we have to be even closer together”.
Many EU leaders are also discussing the potential need for greater EU military co-operation. After the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell spoke of creating a 5,000-strong EU “rapid reaction force”, Ambassador Lambrinidis says he sees no clash between this idea and European states’ existing membership of NATO.
“A stronger EU would by definition complement a stronger NATO […] We are 27 member states and defence is a national competency. We have nevertheless managed in recent years to pool our national resources much more effectively – and the United States is participating in some of our projects,” he explained.
Ambassador Lambrinidis also addresses other areas of concern, from the pandemic to climate change: “Under the Biden administration clearly there is a willingness for that co-operation […] “On Covid, solidarity with other countries is not charity: unless we fight this in every corner of the world we will not be able to fight it in our own countries, we have seen this with the Delta variant.”
Produced by Isabelle Romero, Perrine Desplats, Céline Schmitt and Yi Song