The gloomy assessment by Richard Balfe, now a life peer in the UK, comes amid mounting tensions in various parts of the world. As well as the ongoing war in Ukraine, recent weeks have seen increased tension in the Middle East and over the continuing sovereignty issue between China and Taiwan.
His comments are timely as they come with both Russia and China high on the agenda for MEPs at this week’s plenary session in Strasbourg.
This week, the European Parliament will discuss the European Union’s response to the growing global challenges stemming from a more repressive and assertive China.Deported Ukrainian children/Putin arrest warrant.
While in Strasbourg, MEPs are also due to debate the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for the alleged war crimes of unlawfully deporting and transferring Ukrainian children to Russia.
Lord Balfe, who was an MEP from 1979 to 2004 and a peer in the House of Lords since 20143, is gloomy about the prospects for world peace and said, “Today we are drifting towards another war.”
Reflecting on current world affairs, he told this site, “All effort is devoted to exploiting differences, that is why instead of pursuing a peaceful solution in Ukraine we are fighting a proxy war. I am told that the U.S aim is the collapse of the Russian Federation which would be a disaster for Europe.”
Lord Balfe added, “The EU lacks the vision and foresight we had during the Delors/Kohl/Mitterand period. The enlargement to Eastern Europe has not been followed by their adoption of Western liberal values except to an extent in the Baltic States.”
“In the South China Sea the voices you do not hear are those of the Chinese riparian States. Instead, the USA and the West make increasingly warlike noises rather than looking for peaceful negotiation.”
The peer, whose political career began in 1973, added, “Overall, I feel rather gloomy about the ability of the West to adapt to the 21st century world. This just reflects my overall view of the world.”
He was a Labour Party Member of the European Parliament from 1979 but joined the Conservative Party in 2002.
As an MEP, he was Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Disarmament, Quaestor of the European Parliament and of the Parliament’s Bureau, member of the Committee on Budgets, member of the Committee on Development and Cooperation.
On 19 September 2013 he was created a life peer taking the title Baron Balfe.
Meanwhile, the EPP Group said it wants “an EU that stands up to China with unity and strength, based on three clear principles: cooperate where possible, compete when needed, confront when necessary”.
The European Parliament will debate the need for a coherent strategy for EU-China relations on Wednesday and the EPP fears “Taiwan could become the Ukraine of Asia and Europe must take a clear stance against the possibility that China dares to expand territorially.”
Radosław Sikorski, author of the EPP Group position paper on China and Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegations for relations with the USA, said, “In times of war, we always learn who our true friends are.”
“China is a partner, but also a competitor. It is up to China now to choose whether it wants to be on the right side of history. We will continue working with our American friends to ensure peace, stability, and prosperity for the EU and its partners”, stressed Sikorski.