Ambassador on UK foreign policy

news: Ambassador on UK foreign policy

CREATING A safer world from global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and commitment to the challenge of global warming are some of the UK’s cornerstone international strategic priorities, according to Britain’s Ambassador to Portugal, Mr. John Buck.

However, it is not about making a choice between the United States and Europe, since both are vitally important to the UK’s interests and the shared interests of the three areas. Rather, British foreign policy aims to make a practical contribution to finding solutions for a range of strategic and global problems in partnership with other states.

Addressing the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce on UK foreign policy recently, Mr. Buck explained how things had changed in that area in the past century. “What we now have is a global agenda of shared problems including terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, illegal immigration, drug trafficking and other international crime,” he said.

Making the world safer is fairly evident following 9/11. “It’s a policy that requires engagement with the Muslim world by dealing with the roots of terrorism, but mainly preventing other terrorist attacks.”

Controlling illegal immigration is a response to one of the negative effects of globalisation – the ease by which individuals can move illegally across borders and commit crimes.

At the heart is an international system, based on the rule of law, that is more able to resolve disputes and prevent conflicts – the United Nations and the Security Council. Both are key elements and important for UK foreign policy in that the world should be rule-based. “It’s a huge task and a huge agenda, but one which will cover not just British foreign policy but the way states interact in the next generation,” he said.

Open trading environment

Promotion of UK economic interests in an open and expanding global economy go together. This is no longer a unilateral game where promoting interests has to be at the expense of another state. “What we seek is to create an open trading environment in which British companies are able to compete on a level playing field to the benefit of its people and consumers,” Mr. Buck said.

Sustainable development, underpinned by democracy, good governance and human rights, is important in the process of creating a fairer and more responsible world.

“The security and good governance of the UK’s overseas territories, such as Gibraltar, is another important element of British foreign policy.”

Another priority is the challenge of the environment and global warming, which has shot right up the agenda as the scientific evidence has become incontrovertible. Security of UK and global energy supplies is not just about security in the Middle East, but about international co-operation on alternative energy sources.

Strategic relationships

to achieve

international objectives

“In this increasingly interdependent world, countries such as the UK can only make progress by being in partnership with other countries – this is at the heart of our international objectives,” he said. The UK has a unique range of those partnerships. It is a member of the United Nations, the Security Council, the European Union, the G8, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Commonwealth.

“It’s clear that if we are to face the challenges that are set out, we will have to develop strong strategic relationships with some of the emerging major powers such as Russia, China, India and South Africa.

“Our most important partnerships will remain with the US and the EU. It’s quite clear that neither the UK nor other states can make a choice between these two groups. There is often a lot of speculation about the balance between a country’s relationship with the EU and the US.“

Political and military co-operation between the US and EU is the foundation of the transatlantic alliance and, in economic terms, the relationship between Europe and the US is the broadest and deepest in history.

Africa is a priority

“We want to build on this partnership in our presidencies of the EU and G8 this year, to make real progress on issues that the UK government thinks are crucial to making a better world.

“The first is Africa and the second is the challenge of the environment and global warming. On the issue of Africa, we see that the Prime Minister (Tony Blair) and President Bush are well on the way to agreement on debt cancellation for the poorer countries in the continent. We now need to turn that to wider commitment at the G8 summit.

“On the issue of global warming, there is an increasing international commitment to tackle the problem.

“On the EU constitutional treaty, there have been two radical reactions following the ‘No’ votes in France and the Netherlands. The first argues that the constitution is completely dead and has to be abandoned. The second is that member states should plough on with the ratification regardless.

“The British government has been careful to take neither of these lines. We have instead not set a date for the second reading of the bill on the referendum for the British ratification of the treaty. There is now a need for further discussion with EU partners. This is not a treaty which is owned by any one member state.”

The referendum raises questions about the direction of the EU, including how the latter comes to terms with the forces of globalisation in a way that maximises prosperity, employment and social welfare.