EU: D'Alema gains support for foreign policy post

Brussels, 9 Nov. (AKI ) - As speculation continued on Monday about whether British foreign secretary David Miliband would seek the role of European Union foreign policy chief, there was growing support for former Italian prime minister Massimo D'Alema to assume the post, sources told Adnkronos International (AKI).

Sources from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament in Brussels confirmed media statements made by Martin Schulz in Romania, firming their support for D'Alema.

Schulz is a German member of the European Parliament and chairman of the alliance.

Schulz has reaffirmed the support that D'Alema has gained from the president of the Party of European Socialists, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.

D'Alema "enjoys the strongest support" from his European colleagues, sources said.

"This is a very delicate issue and I cannot and must not say anything," said D'Alema, a former foreign minister and senior leader in Italy's centre-left Democratic Party. "It is not up to me but the European council."

At the weekend D'Alema said Miliband, would be the most likely choice for the expanded European foreign policy chief if Tony Blair failed in his bid to become president of the European Council.

D’Alema has won the backing of the centre-right Berlusconi government in his bid for the job, but rated his chances of winning the position at “much less than 50 percent”.

However, as Blair’s victory looked increasingly unlikely for the top job, D’Alema predicted support would shift to Miliband once the presidency was decided.

“The British cannot endure two ‘no’s,” D’Alema told the Italian daily, Corriere della Sera on Sunday.

Miliband is widely considered a future Labour leader and has insisted he does not want the job.

Some media reports previously suggested that D’Alema’s own ambitions were fading because of eastern European opposition since he is a former Communist turned social democrat.

Jan Tombinski, Poland's ambassador to the European Union, said "It would be better to have someone whose authority could not be questioned because of his past political affiliations".

However, D’Alema insisted that he had made “peace” with Poland.

“From Poland they let me know that the view of the Polish ambassador to the EU is a personal position,” he said.

Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy has emerged as a possible compromise candidate for the presidency while Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has also been flagged.


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