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European parliament president says Cameron must not take Europe hostage

posted 23 Jan 2013, 10:24 by Mpelembe   [ updated 23 Jan 2013, 10:25 ]

 DAVOSSWITZERLAND (JANUARY 23 , 2013) (REUTERS) -  Britain must not take Europe hostage, the president of the European parliament said in Davoson Wednesday (January 23) in reaction to Prime Minister David Cameron's much awaited speech onEurope.

"I heard the speech. I found its contents weak, with a lot of contradictions," Schulz told Reuters Television on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss mountains.

"It was a speech of the Tory party leader, not of the British prime minister, addressed especially to the right wing of his party. He could not have talked as prime minister because the Lib Dems' position is one hundred percent different from what he announced."

Schulz said Cameron's speech was "the ploy of a defensive government leader to come out of the defensive by promising people something, namely: vote for me and you will get a referendum. And for this, all of Europe should be taken hostage? I don't think that's right."

The director of British think tank Chatham House, Robin Niblett said "the sceptics will be happy that there is a commitment to the referendum. I think those who believe that Britain's future lies with the EU will be somewhat appeased by the fairly strong case for why it makes sense for the UK to be in the EU, whatever happens."

Richard Haass, president of the U.S. think tank Council on Foreign Relations, said his "guess is theObama administration would probably have preferred things had not come to this point. But given the domestic politics of Britain, things did come to this point. "

In Haass' view, "the issue then is what is it we can say or do to try to manage this and see that things come out well. Mr. Cameron is not the only leader, shockingly enough, who has domestic politics to mange when it comes to foreign policy."

Cameron promised on Wednesday to give Britons a referendum choice on whether to stay in theEuropean Union or leave if he wins an election in 2015, placing a question mark over Britain's membership for years.