Monday, Apr. 18, 2005

Javier Solana

Forging a common foreign policy for the 25 members of the European Union is like herding cats. But since taking on that task in 1999, Javier Solana has demonstrated an uncanny gift for it. True, he couldn't bridge the gap over Iraq between Bush supporter Tony Blair and Continental refuseniks Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder. But Solana, 62, has been present at the creation of a whole range of other common European policies. He helped push Leonid Kuchma's cronies from power in Ukraine late last year; he oversaw the E.U.'s taking command of peacekeeping missions in Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina; he has worked hard to shore up democracy in the Palestinian territories and make Europe a player in the Middle East. It helps that as a Spanish Socialist with an aristocratic background, Solana lives easily with contradictions. He was against Spain's joining NATO in the early 1980s, but in 1995 became Secretary-General of the alliance—and led it through its first combat operation in Kosovo in 1999. Though his job now is to help Europe find a foreign policy voice of its own, his years of studying in the U.S. make him immune to knee-jerk anti-Americanism. For Washington and the world, he has become an indispensable European.

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