As violent unrest and ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan worsen, there is one notable absentee from the crisis: the European Union. At least 120 people have been killed, and the specter of a refugees crisis now seems more likely than not.
EU Foreign Minister, Catherine Ashton, is currently preoccupied with the creation of the EU’s newly authorized foreign service—the 6,000-strong diplomatic corps that will be known as the European External Action Service (EEAS).
The Lisbon Treaty also endowed the EU with other foreign policy responsibilities, stating that it would use civilian and military means precisely for, “humanitarian and rescue tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilization.” The EU is even carrying out a fictitious military exercise this week, to test how well it can lead a military operation without NATO support.
The EU does not need to create a fictitious crisis when it has one not that far from its borders. The rationale given for the Lisbon Treaty was that the nations of Europe will speak with one voice and become a foreign policy power-broker in the world. But as Central Asia plunges into further crisis, Catherine Ashton is safely ensconced in Brussels working on pointless communiqués and endless strategies that do nothing for regional or international security.
Humanitarian disasters and ethnic conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti have more than demonstrated that the EU lacks the tools, expertise and political will to do much of anything in a crisis, other than aggrandize further power from its member states. This is just another spectacular example of the failure of EU leadership. Instead of advancing totally unnecessary grand projects like the EEAS, the EU should concentrate on issues of regional stability in its neighborhood, using its visa, trade, and commercial policies to advance concrete proposals on democracy, human rights, rule of law, good governance, and free markets.