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Does Mary Robinson want to be President of the EU Council?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 08:30:28 AM EST

Given that I have taken to campaigning for a Mary Robinson Presidency I though it only prudent to make an enquiry as to whether she would be interested in the post.  So I sent an email to her Realising Rights Initiative as follows, and got an interesting response:

From: Frank Schnittger
Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 6:56 PM
To: infoEGI
Subject: Mary Robinson

I have written a blog proposing Mary Robinson for the new post of President of the European Council at http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2009/10/20/11029/450.  There is also a Facebook group supporting her for the post which has reached 6000 members in just a few days.  We have also organised a Stop Blair petition opposing his appointment which has reached 38,000 signatories in recent days.

It would be really helpful to the campaign if we knew whether she was interested in the post or not.  Obviously there is no point in proposing her if she would simply turn it down if the opportunity was offered.  On the other hand, even a relatively non-committal statement saying that she would be interested in discussing the post with the relevant heads of Government, would offer real encouragement to what is rapidly becoming a popular pan-European campaign to draft her for the job.

As I don't have an e-mail address for her, I was hoping you might forward this e-mail to her with the request that she respond whenever she can find the time!

PS My late wife, Muriel Boothman, and I met her when she was President of Ireland and opened Muriel's Community Education Centre in Blessington.

Kinds regards,

Frank Schnittger

To which I got the following reply:

Front-paged by afew


Dear Frank Schnittger,

On behalf of Mary Robinson thank for your interest in supporting her for the new post of president of the European Council.  She is travelling at the moment but below is her response to Margot Wallstrom, Vice President of the European Commission on the issue.

 "I very much appreciate the support you have offered to the campaign being mounted to have me nominated as President of the EU.

It is humbling and gratifying to be mentioned as a possibility for such a position - particularly when it appears that the campaign is being led by civil society and those interested in issues we both wish to address and progress.

As you know during recent times I have become increasingly focussed on climate change and its negative impacts on the developing world - i.e. on the issue of climate justice. It is a topic of extreme urgency and is proving very time-consuming and demanding.

With this focus I could not commit myself to considering accepting the challenge of the EU Presidency.   I share your aspiration that a woman candidate will become apparent, and indeed successful, for one (or more!) of the senior posts in the EU but that person will not be me.  I would be grateful if you could help me get this message across very clearly to those who have supported the idea of my being a candidate for the EU Presidency."

I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards,

Mary Baylis

Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative
271 Madison Avenue, Suite 1007
New York,  NY 10016
Tel: (212) 895-8082 Fax: (212) 895-8084
www.realizingrights.org

So that's it then, isn't it? A clear NO. Or is it?

One could read it as a shy and bashful person who does not wish to be overly forward in pushing herself into the limelight and appear at a party to which none of the hosts have invited her.  To my knowledge not a single Head of Government has proposed her for the post, and unless and until this happens she cannot possibly be a declared candidate.

She might also want to let it be known that although she doesn't currently hold a high profile political post, she isn't exactly stuck for work and has other priorities she would like to address.

However logic would suggest that if she really is concerned with the impact of global warming on the developing world, there are very few more potentially influential posts in the world from which she could address this issue than if she were President of the European Council.

Mary has always been an "issues person" with the issues far more important than the personalities who may be engaged in it, and if she could be persuaded she could do far more to address the negative impacts of Global warming as President of the European Council, then that objection would collapse.

All she has said is that she "could not commit myself to considering accepting the challenge of the EU Presidency" in the context of the "extreme urgency" and "very time-consuming and demanding" work she is doing on the Climate Change issue: hardly a disqualification from the post, and if anything, merely serving notice that, if elected, climate change would be an issue very high up on her agenda.

I hardly think that most European Heads of Government would have a problem with that in the run up to Copenhagen.  Equally, however, it would be extremely presumptuous of her to publicly declare an interest in the post when not a single Government has nominated her.  That would only be to set herself up for a public humiliation.

I have absolutely no idea whether, privately, she really wants the job.  She would want to want it pretty badly to do a really good job.  But as yet she has given no indication as to her private wishes.  Indeed she has emphasized her determination to remain active in public life.

So for my part, I am simply not taking that no for an answer at this stage.  Her reply to Margot Wallstrom is merely the action of a tactful and mannerly person not wanting to crash a party to which she has not been invited.  For her the issues will always trump the positions. The very fact that she has emphasised her commitment to an issue so high up on the EU agenda at the present time underlines the fact that she has in no way retired from public life.

Some may accuse me of wishful thinking on this.  But unless I get an absolute no the campaign goes on as far as I am concerned.  Not being able to commit herself to the post at the present time simply does not equal no in my book.  She hasn't yet been asked by the people who really matter in this instance - the Heads of Government of the Member States of the EU.

That's where we come in - to make them ask the question...

Display:
Quoting her reply to Margot Wallström (from a week or ten days ago?) seems like a standard diplomatic response. In a context where no one is officially a candidate for a post that doesn't yet exist, it would be a mistake to declare oneself too soon.

So, though this may of course remain Mary Robinson's position, I'd say that all hope of her candidature is not lost.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 01:37:22 AM EST
In a context where no one is officially a candidate for a post that doesn't yet exist, it would be a mistake to declare oneself too soon.

Therefore, we should give the job to Groucho Marx.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 02:46:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll vote for that.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 03:02:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If only there were more jokes in Das Kapital.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 06:16:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter.
Some day I intend reading it.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 08:37:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

- Dorothy Parker

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 10:48:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When will men understand that when a woman says 'no', she means 'no'?

:P

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 02:48:30 AM EST
Yep, that's a no.

Y-fronts! But thanks for putting the question, Frank.

So who's the next best candidate?

by Pope Epopt on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 08:54:04 AM EST
I disagree.  In diplomatic speak, it is a not now, and perhaps even a not yet.  As usual with women, the right person has to ask the right question in the right way at the right time... (runs and hides...)

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 09:23:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I bow to your greater insight into womankind, Frank, and sincerely hope you're right!
by Pope Epopt on Fri Oct 23rd, 2009 at 04:55:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The current President of Finland? Unlikely to resign for this, though... not to mention being proposed. There would be Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga from Latvia, too, but I am ambivalent about her, and Buzek's post as President of the EP seems to exclude another new member in a top post anyway.

Of the four other names mentioned most often (Balkenende, Juncker, Verhofstadt, Lipponen), I'd like Juncker best -- not because I'd agree with him on the economy, but because he is seasoned in talks and a committed federalist, and more or less scandal-free.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 09:50:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Halonen is being bandied about as a candidate now (per today's Hufvudstadsbladet, will try to find an online cite); whether she is interested is another matter...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 10:27:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...and having supported her for two presidential elections (alas I was too young by a couple of months to vote in the first one in 2000), she would probably be my candidate, then...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 10:28:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tarja Halonen would make a good president of the European Council. A former lawyer and trade unionist, she is also an activist for human rights, as well as women's and LGBT rights.

She was co-chair (with the president of Tanzania) of the The World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 11:32:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"That person won't be me" sounds unequivocal to me. Compare this to Lipponen's response (translated from Swedish, Hufvudstadsbladet Oct 2009):

"There aren't even any positions to appoint yet, so I'm certainly not going to announce any candidacy here and now, Lipponen said yesterday."

Which sounds like an all-but-announcement to me, but at the very least it's not an outright rejection of the idea.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not currently supporting anyone in particular for the job)

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 11:51:03 AM EST
Irish Times, 24/10/2009:

Robinson rules out EU presidency - The Irish Times - Sat, Oct 24, 2009

FORMER PRESIDENT Mary Robinson has ruled herself out of contention for the position of president of the European Council.

Mrs Robinson yesterday contacted the group campaigning to have her nominated for the post to say she could not commit herself to considering the challenge of the EU presidency because of her current focus on climate change.

...

She said that in recent times she had become increasingly focused on climate change and its negative impacts on the developing world. She added that the issue of climate justice was a topic of extreme urgency and was proving very time-consuming and demanding.

"With this focus I could not commit myself to considering accepting the challenge of the EU presidency."

She said she shared the aspiration of the group to see a woman in one of the senior EU positions but "that person will not be me".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 08:20:49 AM EST
The IT seems to be quoting from the same message word for word.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 08:23:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 08:26:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We should really put that macro:
[ET: Get The News EarlyTM]
by Bernard on Thu Oct 29th, 2009 at 05:26:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well it may be fishful winking, but i second your instinct about her, frank. i sure wish she didn't sound so categorical, but there you go... this absurd gavotte that is the unwritten protocol really smacks of the last century, mores that are confused at best, at worst laughably coy.

the way in is climate change, she certainly makes that clear, the key is under the mat, lol!

so i'd say the next letter might thank her for her public service, acknowledge the adroit non-answers needed at this stage of the game, and express, as you did in this diary, that our best planetary hope for countering and slowing climate change would be to appoint a  stateswoman of her conviction, integrity, moral stature and experience on the world stage, to possibly the world's most influential position to actually do something more powerfully positive to better our fate.

antithesis to TB, traitor and war criminal. (maybe leave that out!)

it can't do any harm, and may encourage others to get on board backing her.

one of the eurodwarfs from a no/count pygmy-state will snag the gig otherwise, giant yawn...

the last thing europe needs is another stuffed shirt who doesn't get the big picture in a position of powerless pomp and circumstance, nominal, clueless and out of touch with the real needs of the people, (which looks like the probable outcome, if enough people don't pile on and make it harder for her to say no.) this will feed further in to the cliche that europe is stuck, boring, and more about symbols than realities

great letter, btw, and an even greater initiative.

go ET!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 08:30:31 AM EST
Draft Gore failed, but draft Robinson might have better luck.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Oct 28th, 2009 at 09:56:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Dear Mrs. Robinson,

     I'm adding my voice to others here to urge that you recognize the importance of answering the call to become a candidate for the post of European Union Council President to all for which you're working.  There is every reason to suppose that your current causes are fully compatible with the acceptance of presenting yourself as a candidate for such a post.

   Moreover, you are, by every indication, far and away the best candidate among those currently mentioned as actual or potential contenders.

   To ignore the opportunity before you is to give sad proof of Bertrand Russell's observation when he lamented,

     "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."

   Your talents won't be squandered or diverted in the E.U. presidency, and, without your challenge, someone greatly inferior is almost certain to have that post; that would hurt the causes to which you are so devoted.

  Please rethink and express your interest, if you have any.

"In such an environment it is not surprising that the ills of technology should seem curable only through the application of more technology..." John W Aldridge

by proximity1 on Thu Oct 29th, 2009 at 12:31:39 PM EST
I think you won't believe the relevance of that famous Simon & Garfunkel song, but to help remind you, here's a version which will make you stop and think, especially if you see it through to the end.

I'd actually recommend you go to the site and watch it in HD.
Your humble Global village Idiot,


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Oct 29th, 2009 at 02:21:11 PM EST
by Oui on Fri Oct 30th, 2009 at 02:21:04 PM EST
1. When will the need to fill the post become official?

Until then talking about who will fill the post is a lot of air.  Mary Robinson's CURRENT reply, although probably sincere, is TODAY'S reply.  What if,

2. The post of EU President gave her opportunities to actually DO things about "climate justice" which she currently can't accomplish?

So, let's rein in the horses and WAIT!  As long as it's not Blair or Berlu there's reason for hope.

Or at least, that's an idiot's view from across the pond.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 17th, 2009 at 06:28:52 PM EST
They are trying to fill it as we speak with a summit scheduled for Tomorrow.  Mary Robinson isn't being mentioned in any of the current speculation - though how much that speculation is misdirection and wishful thinking is hard to say.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 17th, 2009 at 06:48:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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