David Rennie reports from The Telegraph about the “Sound of Europe” summit, just ended in Salzburg. It had an unexpected shot in the arm for America. Or perhaps it would be better described as a warning shot over the bow of Old Europe by New Europe — mind your manners, Grandpa.
A lefty newspaper editor “drawlingly invited” Latvia’s president to agree with his assessment that the new EU members from eastern and central Europe was too pro-American to be considered proper Europeans.
Having listened to the anti- American cant and condescension, Vaika Vike-Freiberga was fed up:
The editor chose the wrong target to bully. Latvia may be small, but its woman president Vaika Vike-Freiberga survived wartime air raids, a childhood in refugee camps and five decades of exile, first in French Morocco, then more comfortably in Canada, as a psychology professor. Mrs Vike-Frieberga let rip.
Mrs Vike-Frieberga’s words were spoken off the cuff, and they were not always polished. She began in German, then switched to English. I cannot improve on them, so here they are, in full:
“I am amazed by the speed with which Europe has forgotten that it was rescued during World War Two when the Americans entered the fight. The contribution of the trans-Atlantic link to European security is something that Europeans have long taken for granted. But since the corridor to Berlin [was secured] right after the war, right up to the great debates and conflict in Germany about having intercontinental ballistic missiles or not, Europe has felt quite comfortable under the umbrella of security that Nato offered, and that means the trans-Atlantic link.
“By the way I’d like to remind people here that when you see row upon row of white crosses in the fields of Flanders and North of France, those are also Canadians, thousands of Canadian soldiers who died for the freedom of Europe, for the freedom of the Netherlands, of France, and of Italy.
“The trans-Atlantic link is intrinsic, it goes back to Europe bringing its ideas and ideals to the North American continent – along with smallpox and the common cold and the extinction of the native peoples, naturally – they brought both destruction and ideals. North America has developed different models of the same European values that they inherited. The idea that we have somehow two systems that are inimical, I find extraordinarily strange.
“We have this division that was introduced between Old Europe and New Europe, talked about by Mr Rumsfeld. Well, when Mr Rumsfeld was asked about this at the beginnings of the second Bush administration, he said: ‘That was the old Rumsfeld who made that distinction, the new Rumsfeld would like to leave it behind.’”
She offered a question of her own. “What is it that Old Europe is worried about, with respect to New Europe? That we are friendly with America? All that we have asked is to be part of Nato, and part of the security umbrella that Europe has enjoyed for half a century.”
At this point, she turned to face the audience directly. “You lived in democracies for longer times than we,” she began. Scattered clapping began to be heard. “Austria, by the way, came very close to being in the same situation as Latvia. Be grateful for your fate, don’t complain,” she said, this time to swelling applause.
She went on: “Throughout the years, in parts of Europe, intellectuals and even politicians were enamoured with the idea of Marxism and even some thought the Soviet Union was an embodiment of what Socialism and the protection of the worker was all about. America was more realistic. America looked on us as captive nations. We were captive nations, and we are now free.”
Well said, Madame. And take that Ted Kennedy. And stick it in your ear, Nancy Pelosi.
Hat tip: Elaib Harvey, Brussels Journal