Friday, July 29, 2011

TONY #BLAIR. Knights of #MALTA





Tony Blair fuels EU presidency speculation

Times OnlineJanuary 12, 2008
Robert Watts, The Sunday Times

TONY BLAIR today fuelled further speculation that he will run for election as the European Union’s first full-time president later this year.

Speaking in Paris this morning, the former prime minister called for a “strong and united Europe”, adding that members fail to deliver what their citizens want when they act as individual nations.

Blair said: “Europe is not a question of left or right, but a question of the future or the past, or strength or weakness.”

“Terrorism, security, immigration, organised crime, energy, the environment, science, biotechnology and higher education… In all of these areas, and others, we are much stronger and able to deliver what our citizens expect from us as individual nations if we are part of a strong and united Europe.”

The speech, delivered in French to members of the ruling centre-right UMP party, will be seen widely as Blair’s calling card for the new post of President of the European Council.

The post is to be created in the second half of 2008, with the appointment process to be overseen by France, during its leadership of the EU later this year.

French president Nicholas Sarkozy, who invited Blair to give the address, described the former British prime minister as “one of Europe’s greats”.

Sarkozy last year said Blair was one of two obvious candidates for EU presidency. Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg prime minister, was the other name proffered by the French premier.

“When we appoint this president of the European Union, I want us to set the bar high and not aim for the lowest common denominator,” Sarkozy said, who also called for a common energy and defence policies across Europe.

“I am a friend of the United States but I insist that Europe give itself autonomous means to defend itself because if one is not capable of this, one is not capable of assuming one’s independence.”

If Blair does become the EU’s president, he may have to step down as a Middle East peace envoy.

The former prime minister now divides his time between the Middle East role, charity work and delivering highly-lucrative speeches. He has also signed a £5million contract for his memoirs.

It was announced last week that he has been appointed as an advisor to the US investment bank J P Morgan, for an annual fee of around £500,000.

During his speech, Blair praised Sarkozy leadership and joked that could easily fit in with his style of government.

In a comment that drew laughter from the audience, Blair spoke of Sarkozy’s “energy in all areas” – an allusion to the French leader’s relationship with a Carla Bruni, a former model and singer.