Prodi criticises Bush for war-chest request
European Voice - 28 March 2003
ROMANO Prodi has issued a thinly-veiled attack on the Bush administration's request for massive funding to bankroll the war against Iraq.
Addressing MEPs yesterday (26 March), the European Commission president said: "The extra funds requested for this operation [from Congress] - $74.7 billion (€70 billion) - are much higher than the total aid the world gives the poorest countries each year, which is only just over €50 billion."
He also declared that "the moment of truth for Europe's foreign and defence policy has come".
Referring to the current tensions between various European states over Iraq, he added: "The world will not take heed of us until we put an end to our divisions, until we stop relying on the European Union for economic growth and the United States for security."
Prodi's speech to the Parliament was briefly interrupted by left-wing deputies who yelled at ushers after being told to take down anti- war posters.
Pat Cox, the assembly's president, said the staff were acting at his instruction; this followed a complaint by pro-war UK Conservative Charles Tannock, who had previously been told he could not display slogans in the chamber urging Saddam Hussein's removal.
Earlier, Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen warned Turkey that an incursion by its troops into Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq could hurt its EU membership ambitions. Verheugen was speaking as he announced a Commission proposal to offer Turkey a pre-accession aid package worth more than €1 billion in 2004-2006.
"Any crossing of Turkish troops into northern Iraq would be undesirable," the German commissioner remarked. "Obviously that would have to be brought to mind when assessing the preparedness of Turkey [for joining the EU]."