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The following interview in Chinese has appeared on over 250 Chinese websites.

It is accurate except on the theme of the heading. You will see that I say that US policy substance has not necessarily changed.

EU scholar says U.S. “policy substance” toward Europe remains unchanged

by Xinhua writers Wu Liming, Ban Wei

PRAGUE, April 4 (Xinhua) — U.S. President Barack Obama is in Europe for his five-state summit tour, and people are casting their eyes on whether he would reshape the transatlantic relations.

However, a Brussels-based scholar on international relations said the “policy substance” of the White House toward relations with Europe has not changed since Obama took the helm.

“The music has already completely changed in his manner of handling transatlantic relations. Europeans both admire and like Obama and find him easy to talk to,” said Stanley Crossick, former chairman of the European Policy Center, a Brussels-based think tank, in an email to Xinhua.

“However, this does not mean that the policy substance has necessarily changed,” Crossick stressed.

Obama set his feet on Europe earlier this week for his first European tour after he assumed the U.S. presidency. His trip includes the G20 summit, the NATO summit and the summit of the United States and the European Union (EU). The new U.S. face has enjoyed high-profile welcome in Europe.

Crossick said Obama’s election was a “milestone,” and his trip to Europe was “presented as a milestone.” However, Crossick noted that whether it is a “milestone” for transatlantic relations would “depend not on words and communiques but on whether there is a clear mutual understanding and agreed action.”

“This in turn will be influenced by the extent to which Europe speaks with one voice and that there is no continental Europe vs. Anglo Saxon undertone,” he added.

Citing the relations with Russia, Crossick said there are different voices within the EU over how to deal with major powers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has favored a new partnership with Russia instead of confrontation, echoing Obama’s “conciliatory” approach, but Britain and some Eastern European countries have “difficulty” with Russia, especially on the issue of missile defense program, Crossick said.

One major objective of Obama for his current tour is to sell his new Afghanistan strategy to his European allies, but “the trouble is that Europeans do not believe that Obama’s Afghanistan policy can succeed,” Crossick said.

“No Afghanistan policy can succeed without a successful Pakistan policy. And there is no popular support for sending young soldiers to die there. Obama realizes this and will probably seek to compensate with peacebuilding forces and money,” he added.

With regards to energy and climate change, which are on top of the agenda of the upcoming EU-U.S. summit in Prague on Sunday, Crossick said the positions of Washington and Brussels are closer now.

“There is now broad agreement between the United States and EU on climate change. (U.S. Secretary of State) Clinton confirmed when she was in Europe that the Obama administration was committed to taking EU-U.S. cooperation to a new level, particularly in regard to climate change and the current economic crisis,” Crossick said.

“She also pledged American support for EU initiatives to build a single energy market and to diversify gas supplies,” he added.

However, Crossick noted that trade disputes across the Atlantic Ocean would “continue as ever,” and the biggest problem is protectionism.

“Most leaders eschew it (protectionism) in rhetoric and support it in practice,” he said.

Crossick branded Obama as an “American multilateralist in the Clinton mode, not a European one,” and that is “because he remains an American exceptionalist.”

“He also has to withstand pressure from home constituencies,” he added.

Looking ahead, Crossick believed that the major dispute between the United States and Europe might stem from the Middle East.

“Probably the most likely area of disagreement will be Middle East policy, starting with Israel-Palestine,” he said.

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