Monday, March 06, 2006

Another Week Ahead

It's still distinctly winter in this part of Europe. We have seen heavy snowfall both in Stockholm and elsewhere during the weekend.

Spring seems to be far too long away. And I understand that the same is the case in most of Europe north of the Alps.

Today is the day of the IAEA Governing Board in Vienna with the Iran issue as the by far most dominant. The interesting thing will be the Iranian reaction to the expexted referral to the Security Council - as well as the reaction to the Iranian reaction.

Across the Atlantic, I guess President Bush will have to spend some time to brief congressional leaders and others on his trip to India and Pakistan. The nuclear deal with India requires congressional approval, and that will require some work.

But there will also be the arrival in Washington of Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov for talks with his US counterpart Rice. The topics are fairly obvious - Hamas, Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, energy security, probably a little bit of Kosovo and possible some Caucasus as well.

Europe sees a new President coming into office on Thursday when Mr Cavaco de Silva takes over as President of Portugal. He was Prime Minister for nearly a decade, responsible for an impressive period of modernisation of his country, and is now coming back after a decades absence from the political scene.

I'm not there for the inauguration - nice as that would have been, but will spend parts of Wednesday and Thursday giving speeches on the past and future of Turkey in Stockholm, Helsinki and Oslo in connection with East Capital launching a new funds oriented towards the Turkish economy.

Over the weekend the Foreign Ministers of the European Union will meet for their twice-annual informal meeting, this time in Salzburg in Austria. Added to the meeting this time will be a summit with the Foreign Ministers of the countries of the so called Western Balkans.

I don't expect too much to come out of it, but I do hope that they manage to move policy somewhat forward. This will be a year that will as important as it will be difficult in the region, and in the absence of a clear and consistent EU policy line there is the risk of things going seriously wrong in several respects.

Salzburg will be important. I'm unfortunately not convinced that all going to that meetings are sufficiently aware of that fact.