Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for December 7th, 2007

The Lisbon Summit

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 7th December, 2007

The leaders of the 27 EU member states and their African counterparts are gathering here in Lisbon today, minus Gordon Brown, who has boycotted this weekend´s EU-Africa Summit, in protest at the presence of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. I understand why the British government has taken this line, but unfortunately, as far as most of the African countries are concerned — and several of the EU ones, too — Brown has shot himself in the foot. His high-minded absence is seen here as impotent petulance. Unfair, maybe, but that´s the way it is. As the Portuguese President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Baroso, has said, in international diplomacy one sometimes has to deal with obnoxious people. Far better to go (and shove a custard pie in Mugabe´s face, or some similarly Tatchellite gesture, I gloss).

The problem is that Europe´s special relationship with Africa — a legacy of colonialism, of course, but it is nonetheless a reality — is under serious threat from the incursion of China in Africa. There´s an excellent article by Ian Traynor in today´s Guardian about this. And that´s one of the things I´ll be focussing on during this short visit to what has long been my favourite European capital.

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