Friday, May 29, 2009

Obama's first 100 days

The election of Barack Obama as America's 44 th President raised high hopes, not only in the United States itself, but in Europe too. Everyone believed that the transatlantic relations would get a great boost. What has the outcome been so far?

Obama made a major trip in March and April of this year to Europe. He took part in the G20 summit in London, attended the NATO summit in Strasbourg where he played a great role by supporting the revision of the strategy towards Afghanistan. He then flew to Prague for an informal EU-US summit. High on the agenda was resolving the problem on relocating the prisoners from Guantanomo Bay. After that in Turkey he was welcomed with open arms and reached out to the Turkish people. Europeans cannot have ignored Obama's assertive approach, although it could have been felt, as a bit too much. Does this matter? Certainly not!

But how have the Europeans been reacting to all this 'friendly' behaviour? Sadly enough they have all been busy with domestic issues that have been arising as serious problems in their own countries. Gordon Brown and his Labour party faces very bad polls and British politicians in general are having a hard time in being taken serious by the British people. In Germany the election competition is well underway and Merkel is up against the odds with an economy that is suffering badly and a serious oppenent named Steinmeier. Silvio Berlusconi aims at maintaining a dominant political position in Italy, which isn't easy if all attention is drawn to behaviour in the personal sphere.

Obama has shown us so far that inspirational leadership can really make a difference. But the transatlantic relations can only been promoted and intensified if both sides of the Atlantic take their responsibilities. Therefore, will the real European leader, 'please stand up'?!

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