Senator Edwards Says G8 Leaders Must Stand Up to Russia
BRUSSELS (April 30, 2006) — Senator John Edwards closed Brussels Forum today by urging Americans and Europeans to work together on many of the major issues the three-day conference addressed. “It is Iran’s nuclear ambitions that pose the greatest single security threat to the United States and Europe,” Edwards said. “The international community must confront Iran with a clear choice: Give up your nuclear ambitions or suffer the consequences. Right now, this means UN Security Council action to impose sanctions.” While Americans must be willing “to engage the Iranian leadership directly,” Edwards said, Europeans must be willing “to impose meaningful sanctions.”
Much of the Brussels Forum debate throughout the weekend focused on Russia and Edwards drew on a recent Council on Foreign Relations project he co-chaired to say that “Russia is headed in the wrong direction.”
“The jury is still out whether Russia will stand with us on Iran,” Edwards said. “A more democratic Russia would not be on the fence regarding Iran. It would not be cracking down on dissent and a free press. It would not play host to Hamas. It would not work to kick the U.S. out of bases in Central Asia. It would not be using energy as a foreign policy weapon. It would not be supporting autocrats in Belarus or undermining democrats in Georgia and Ukraine.” Edwards said the G-8 summit in Russia this summer is a “huge test” for Russia and the leaders of other countries should raise their concerns about Russian policies there. “If our leaders don’t stand up for what they believe, then we need to consider seriously whether we should continue to have a G-8 at all.”
Edwards echoed Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt’s all from earlier in Brussels Forum for NATO reform and argued that the alliance should take on a more global role. “For example, NATO should step up to end the genocide in Sudan. It’s good that NATO has helped the African Union troops with logistics, support and training. But it has not stopped the killing.” He added that NATO should strengthen its ties with “countries like Ukraine and Georgia.”
In discussing an expanded role for NATO Edwards posited an expanded role for Israel that might actually end up in membership. “This could mean a closer strategic and operational relationship; it could mean more exchanges and planning cooperation; it could even someday mean membership.”
Touching upon a concern European’s commonly voice, European Parliament Member Erika Mann asked Edwards what he thought of the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Naming Guantanamo, prison abuses in Iraq, and domestic spying in the U.S., Edwards said “these are all very troublesome things. They go to the heart of what America is supposed to represent…. I want America to be strong. But also to be moral and just.”
Brussels Forum is an annual high-level meeting of the most influential American and European political, corporate, and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges currently facing both sides of the Atlantic. Heads of state, senior officials from the European Union institutions and the member states, a U.S. Senate delegation, and European Parliamentarians are among the 280 participants.