Ilves: EU not about to fall apart, but importance of Germany increasing (1)
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves spoke in Visby, Sweden on Wednesday at the Almedalen Week, where a range of policy issues was discussed. Ilves said he didn’t believe in the probability of a post-Brexit disintegration of the European Union.
Since the EU membership referendum in the United Kingdom and a lot of Brits expressing that they want to leave the EU, an increase in the numbers of those who support the European Union could be noted in several member states, Ilves was quoted saying.
“I do believe that this is attributable to the cold shower that Brexit gave to many – people suddenly realize what they may stand to lose without the European Union,” President Ilves said.
According to the president, more and more British people are beginning to realize that “leaving the European Union is no longer a hilarious Monty Python sketch, but that it comes with realistic and serious consequences”.
Ilves pointed out that the legal status of citizens of the various member states of the EU who have lived in the United Kingdom for decades would become insecure in the wake of Brexit.
The president predicts that Germany will take a greater leading role in overcoming the difficult times facing the union. Also, the president and Secretary of State of the United States of America had finally been given a number in Europe that they could call to discuss topics of relevance to the European Union in general. “This is the number of Angela Merkel,” Ilves said.
The main concerns expressed at Almedalen Week focused on the possibility of Brexit-centered arguments in the European Union hogging all the political attention, while member states needed to focus, together and in unison, on other important issues.
Almedalen Week, also known as Politikerveckan or Political Week, in Visby, Gotland, which was first started back in 1968 by then prime minister of Sweden Olof Palme, various issues are discussed ranging from global foreign and security policy to topics that concern the life of the local Swedish community.
On Monday and Tuesday, Ilves’ colleagues on the panel in Visby were former foreign minister of Sweden Carl Bildt, former foreign minister of Poland Radoslaw Sikorski, senior editor of The Economist magazine Edward Lucas, and American-Polish journalist and historian Anne Applebaum, among others.