My opinions – first four

If you want to know my thoughts on anything else, ask away.

: David Ervine – well, I’ve met him a few times, especially in 1996 when my own involvement with the peace process peaked. We always got on well, though we were operating in largely separate sectors of political and geographical space. Noted with some sadness, however, his failure to get the UVF to make even the inadequate gestures towards decommissioning we have seen from other groups, and indeed to disavow paramilitary activity.

: the prospects for a settlement in Northern Ireland – Zero as of right now. But if the IRA were to disarm completely, as Gerry Adams appeared to be hinting in his pre-election gimmickry, things become quite different. The DUP came pretty close to a deal late last year, and I’d have thought that can be done again (and I’m also of the view that all that is really needed is a DUP/SF deal, the others are pretty much irrelevant). Of course, both sides have completely incorrect ideas about the other’s strategy, means and motivation, so it won’t be easy.

: Luxembourg – Grand Duchy rather than Belgian province, I suppose. I’ve had been dealing with their diplomats during the current EU presidency, some of whom have impressed me with their level of engagement. They were allowed to become full members of the euro despite not having had a freely floating currency for some time, a loophole that others (eg Montenegro and Kosovo where the euro is already local currency) are unlikely to be allowed to exploit. Last time I was there properly was just over a year ago when we broke for dinner in the capital en route to Strasbourg. The waiter at our table was from Montenegro, which coincidentally has much the same population. The EU isn’t really in a good position to chide people in other countries for wanting to split up and join separately.

: Turkey’s application to join the EU – am very much in favour. Yes, Turkey has to change first, but an EU that includes a reformed Turkey as an anchor of stability will be a much stronger EU. Those who are against seem an unattractive lot – I noted one senior German politician calling on Turkey last week to play a constructive role on Cyprus which seems a rather outdated position. Sure, there is still some way to go, for instance on the Armenian genocide question. But other things are looking up – for instance, the Young Fogey informs me that a surprising number of the current leadership in Ankara are Kurds by origin.

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