“The Most Successful Peace Project in the History of Mankind”

EU Ambassador to the United States speaks with Defense & Aerospace Report on nationalism, EU-US Relations, Foreign Policy, and the current state of the European Union.

When viewing the European Union, it is important to learn from history and understand the big picture. Such was the message from EU Ambassador to the United States David O’Sullivan, in an interview with Defense & Aerospace Report’s Vago Muradian on Friday afternoon. Discussing a variety of topics, Ambassador O’Sullivan touched on everything from foreign policy and EU-U.S. relations to the general benefits of the European Union.

“The great strength of the EU has been that we have found a new way of living together on the European Continent,” Ambassador O’Sullivan said, elaborating on Europe’s war-ravaged history.

“When you look at the devastation of two World Wars in the 20th century and the Holocaust, and you now look at over 70 years of peaceful coexistence on the European continent, it’s the longest period of peace we have ever known. This has been the most successful peace project in the history — probably of mankind.”

And yet the benefits of the EU go far beyond assuring peace on the European Continent. From participation in a single market of 508 million people to collaboration on international affairs, EU Member States delegate some of their sovereignty in order to better defend common values — none of which comes at the price of sacrificing national identity.

“All of our countries have maintained their distinctive characteristics,” Ambassador O’Sullivan said, “But at the same time enjoy the benefits out of increased cooperation.”

Ambassador O’Sullivan said that the EU was “very reassured” by Vice President Mike Pence’s recent visit to Brussel as they had been given a clear and strong commitment that the United States will continue to support the European Union and work to maintain good EU-U.S. relations.

As the conversation shifted to “Brexit” and the rising tide of nationalism in Europe, Ambassador O’Sullivan said, “Consumed in moderation, nationalism is a good thing,” emphasizing the need for national pride — but not the type that impedes upon other cultures and populations, which spills into conflict (if not war).

“It’s not about eliminating nationalism. It’s about people understanding that nationalism is about having pride in your community, in your city, in your country, (and) wanting to make it a better place to live. But not at somebody else’s expense. Not against somebody else.”

Contrary to popular thought, public opinion polls show that support for the EU is currently at an all-time high, as the “Brexit” vote resulted in a surge in EU-enthusiasm from the other 27 Member States. The Ambassador did not see another Brexit about to happen with most other countries looking at what the British had decided and thinking “no, this is not what we want to do.”

“I’m an Irish nationalist,” O’Sullivan explained, “But I also believe my country’s best interest is served through membership of the European Union.”

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