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EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten
EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: CHRIS PATTEN EXTERNAL AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER OF THE EU SEPTEMBER 30TH, 2001

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Now as I said early on we're delighted to be joined by the External Affairs Commissioner of the EU, Chris Patten, who's been taking a look at the papers before having a word or two about your week which is a fascinating one. What have you picked out of the papers.

CHRIS PATTEN: Well the first thing I've picked out is, is this panel of experts, great international strategists and it talks about how they see the crisis developing. What I think all of us should feel is quite encouraging, is that none of them actually have anything particularly interesting to say that everybody else isn't saying. But I think what comes through is a recognition that the military element in what is going to happen is important, it's going to demand professionalism and courage of a very high order but it's only part of what is going to be a very, very long campaign and a diplomacy, the political efforts, the international cooperation required are going to be unprecedented or have to be at an unprecedented level if we're actually going to win and live in a rather more comfortable age.

DAVID FROST: And Don, Don Rumsfeld said this week that you know part of that campaign, that war, that battle you know, would be people like customs officers and across the board?

CHRIS PATTEN: Absolutely right, we actually have to work at every level, we have to work at financing and dealing with the money they get and incidentally one reason I think why this brave Irish journalist has been killed is because he was probably getting quite close to the links between paramilitary terrorism and, and sheer crookedness but we have to deal with a number of issues, this has to be multi-faceted. One thing which Roger Scruton who's very often a largely impenetrable philosopher says in an article in the Mail on Sunday as though it was a striking insight, is that people will give their lives for their country but not for an abstraction such as the EU or UN. Of course that's entirely correct, the primary source of political loyalty is the nation state but I think everybody recognises that we have to work much more closely together in the UN, in Europe, when we're going to deal with a problem like this and it doesn't weaken our links with our oldest allies the United States, I guess we've never been as close to the United States since the last war as we are now. But we recognise that we need to do more with the UN and need to do more with Europe as well.

DAVID FROST: Do you suspect that there will actually be from the other 14 EU nations, there will actually be troops fighting from those, from those nations or will it just be logistical?

CHRIS PATTEN: I think it'll be a mixture, when we talked about it, when heads of government talked about it last week they agreed that some would provide direct military assistance, some would want to provide other sorts of assistance. So I think it will vary each according to his means but there's no question of the solidarity of the European Union and of the applicant countries to join the European Union behind the campaign to defeat terrorism once and for all. A recognition that these atrocities which according to the Sunday Telegraph have meant that over 10,000 kids are now without a mother or father, that these atrocities won't, won't happen again in the future.

DAVID FROST: And in terms of things at home here and id cards that the Daily Mail or indeed the Mail on Sunday has a letter which was sent to the Daily Telegraph which was worth quoting in the Mail on Sunday which says, identity cards are like locks on doors and windows, they manage to control only the honest┐a rather interesting point?

CHRIS PATTEN: It is and I certainly think that if you're going to debate identity cards the idea of making identity cards voluntary is pretty absurd. I think there are serious issues on either side in this discussion about identity cards but I think we have to sit down and look at all these issues and if you can make a good case for a change in the law, maybe a slight change in our view of civil liberties, but a change that will make a real difference in this fight then we have to face up to that.

DAVID FROST: Did you have a successful week on tour this week, the report said that you had quite a good time in Iran but they back-slid the day after you left?

CHRIS PATTEN: Well I think that we started off in Pakistan, we went to Iran, we went to Egypt, to Syria and to Saudi Arabia, what we were trying to do in Iran was, was first of all to make the point that it isn't a battle between the West and Islam, between the West and the rest, we're all involved in the campaign against terrorism and of course the Iranians have very strong views about the Taliban, they don't like them a bit, the Taliban murdered lots of their diplomats. We're also saying out of this terrible atrocity maybe some good can come and maybe we can open doors and windows to countries with which we've had a pretty difficult relationship in the past. There is a group, and they've just won an election in Iran, who want to see political reform, who want to open to the rest of the world and I think we have to encourage them hard-headedly, realistically as much as we possibly can but there isn't obviously any great love lost for the United States at the same time, I think there is a recognition that the US will have to respond with others of us in a military sense if we're to deal with the perpetrators of these atrocities and that beyond that there has to be an international campaign involving the UN if we're to prevent further terrorism in the future. I think those points are understood.

DAVID FROST: Those points are understood.

CHRIS PATTEN: And I think that the, the other point that we got across to Iran is the extent to which we're able to develop a normal relationship with Iran is going to depend on how Iran behaves not least in relation to these awful events.

DAVID FROST: But ironically they're still classified as, as a state sponsoring terrorism at the moment, ironically that you were there really?

CHRIS PATTEN: Well a point we made is that there's no distinction between good terrorists and bad terrorists. Men and women who get up in the morning determined to go out and murder other men and women, innocent men and women in order to make a political point are always, always wrong and that's a distinction that isn't difficult for us, having experienced terrorism in the last few years and it's not difficult for Spain having, having experienced so much terrorism in the last few years and when we get through into the second stage of this campaign into all the diplomacy I think that has to be a central argument that we go on putting.

DAVID FROST: And do you think this unity of the EU, really strong, people have been impressed by that over the last week or two, this long campaign you talk about, do you think it'll hold, that unity

CHRIS PATTEN: It's got to hold.

DAVID FROST: If, if for instance we felt we had to bomb Iraq or something like that?

CHRIS PATTEN: The unity has to hold, a lot of people after the atrocity said, as I think people did when the Berlin Wall fell nothing is going to be the same again. Well I don't think anything will be the same, quite the same again but one way in which things have to be different is that we have to, we have to make a reality of muli-national cooperation, we have to actually do better in creating institutions of global governments that really deliver a more peaceful and prosperous world.

DAVID FROST: Was Berlusconi's main sin not thinking it but saying it?

CHRIS PATTEN: No I think┐

DAVID FROST: I mean if he, if he, as he claims now, was defining it, what he meant was political culture being superior, I mean most people in Britain would agree with that?

CHRIS PATTEN: Well I think you have to distinguish between civilisations and the behaviour of individual countries. I think it's absolutely right for us to press countries to improve their human rights record but we're unlikely to be able to succeed in that if we give the impression that we make that point from, with a monopoly of virtue from a soap box saying that we're greatly superior and we're unlikely to be able to make the point if inherent in what we're saying is the suggestion that somehow Islam doesn't care as much about the individual as Western civilisation or that the Asians don't care as much. My own view is that values are universal and we should argue for them universally and we shouldn't give the impression that we think that some cultures, some civilisations don't actually value the individual.

DAVID FROST: Right, well thank you very much indeed for being with us Chris.

CHRIS PATTEN: Thank you very much.

DAVID FROST: As ever we appreciate it.

CHRIS PATTEN: Thank you very much indeed.

DAVID FROST: Hope you have an equally eventful week this week.

END


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