28.04.2003 11.23 pm
LONDON - Europe and the United States should work as "one polar
power" to tackle the world's problems rather then bickering as they
did over Iraq, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an
interview published today.
Speaking to the Financial Times newspaper, Blair said the best
way to stop Washington acting unilaterally was to join forces with
it rather than opposing it.
"I don't want to see a situation develop again in which either
Europe or America sees a huge strategic interest at stake and we are
not helping each other," Blair said in what the paper described as a
warning to French President Jacques Chirac.
"Some want a so-called multi-polar world where you have different
centres of power, and I believe will quickly develop into rival
centres of power.
"And others believe, and this is my notion, that we need one
polar power which encompasses a strategic partnership between Europe
"Those people who fear 'unilateralism' -- so called and in
inverted commas -- in America should realise that the quickest way
to get that is to set up a rival polar power to America."
France led bitter opposition to the war in Iraq while Britain was
easily Washington's closest and most important ally in the toppling
of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Blair strove to reconcile the differing views in the United
States and Europe but ultimately failed in his bid to get a second
resolution from the United Nations Security Council sanctioning the
use of force in Iraq.
While Blair insisted on the need to stand side-by-side with the
United States, he also stressed the importance of Europe to Britain
- traditionally more sceptical about the drive towards European
unity than many of its neighbours.
"To absence yourself from the main strategic alliance on your
doorstep -- which is Europe - would be an act of self-mutilation as
a country," he said.
Blair told the paper it was important any new government in
Baghdad had international legitimacy and said he was still convinced
there were banned weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, even though
none has surfaced since the US-led invasion force took control of
"I don't think it in the least surprising that it is going to
take some time before we assemble the evidence."
The prime minister also touched on the nuclear stand-off between
the West and North Korea following reports by US officials that
Pyongyang had admitted having nuclear arms.
"It is not just the US and Britain that regards a nuclear
capability in the hands of North Korea as a threat," he said. "I
think China and South Korea would say the same.
"The question is how you deal with it. And again I think we have
got to offer North Korea a way out of its present situation."
On the domestic front, Blair said he his government would not
succumb to growing militancy among the country's unions - from
firefighters to railway workers to teachers.
"We will not give in in any shape or form to any resurgent trade
union militancy," he said. "Trade unions have really got to
understand that. That is absolutely fundamental to me."