US puts pressure on EC aid programs
After forcing the European Community to thoroughly review proposed aid to El Salvador, the Reagan administration has again intervened in plans for an aid project in the Western hemisphere.
European Communiy foreign ministers meeting here recently decided to proceed with the first phase a $1.6 million aid program to the troubled Central American state after hearing both US and international views on the likelihood of such aid winding up in rebel hands.
But European policymakers are wondering whether all their plans for the hemisphere will be subject to continued questioning by Washington. "Just how tight is the new application of the Monroe Doctrine?" wondered one European diplomat out loud.
His remark came after Washington and other governments began signaling their suspicions about financial aid for an airport on Grenada, a tiny Cuban ally in the Caribbean. Some Europeans are bracing for another possible transatlantic clash over EC aid to Nicaragua.
Europe's first taste of America's new concern about subversion in the Western hemisphere came shortly after President Reagan's Inauguration when Lawrence Eagleburger, assistant secretary of state-designate for European affairs, toured European capitals to urge caution about projected aid to el Salvador.
After hesitating for several weeks about whether the American concern was exaggerated, the European Community, which controls this aid, waited for the report of a Swiss International Red Cross mission investigating the needs and shipments to that country. The Red Cross report was made to Claude Cheysson, the EC commissioner in charge of aid, and foreign ministers gave the final go-ahead. The aid amounted to emergency medicine, food, and supplies to refugees and other victims, as well as larger amounts of food aid to the civilian population.
But at the same time the Community was disposing of the Salvador aid it was faced with new questions about support for an airport on Grenada. Grenada's leaders, who govern about 110,000 island residents, have been increasingly shunned by other nations in the region, with the exception of Cuba, since they took power in a coup in 1979.
Cuba has sent some 200 technicians to the island and is helping to build the airport, which is said to be much too large for the tourism ambitions of Grenada and neighboring St. Lucia. After the US voiced doubts about this project, Britain, France, and West Germany have also signaled their reservations about the need for such an airport for st rictly civilian purposes.