The move comes only days after the free trade agreement between South Korea and the European Union came into effect. At the time this was seen as a positive step in relations between Seoul and the socialist bloc of countries, but the deal was signed in October last year and ministers admit that views in the EU, which is notoriously slow and secretive in making decisions, must have changed in the intervening period. The South Korean government, which believed it had pushed the North to the brink of collapse recently by refusing aid and economic development, has filed a strong protest with Brussels, which European political leaders have promised to consider in several months.
While South Koreans may feel betrayed by Europe's betrayal, some Commission members have privately said that the move is not yet a declaration of war against the puppet government in Seoul, and even though the food will strengthen the North's military, it is purely being provided for 'humanitarian purposes', because the North's soldiers 'are such good humanitarians'. While Europe's socialist tendencies make them the ideological soul-mates of Pyongyang, the EU's difficult relationship with the United States, which despite huge political differences remains an ally, will probably ensure that no military action is taken against South Korea by the socialist bloc.
Officially the EU says aid will be supplied, but only under a very strict monitoring process such as the one pioneered by European troops in Srebrenica during the conflict in Bosnia. And safeguards will be put in place: "We understand our North Korean comrades are very poor and only have one set of clothes - so we plan to only give food aid to people wearing civilian clothes, to ensure that no food gets into the hands of the military but instead goes straight to the people." said a Commission spokesperson.
The distance between Europe and the Korean Peninsula would make it difficult for the EU to launch a ground invasion against South Korea, but they are believed to have several hundred missiles capable of striking Seoul. However, of Europe's two nuclear powers, France has a poor record in military conflicts and is thought unlikely to want to launch a nuclear strike for fear of losing, and Britain only joined the European Union to sabotage the French, and the British are not thought to harbor any territorial ambitions. Furthermore, the British and French military, which are operating subsidiaries of oil companies BP and Total respectively, are currently engaged in Libya, where there are proven oil reserves. By comparison, South Korea lacks any significant oil fields - the largest known domestic deposits are in the President Lee Myung-bak's hair, but they are thought to be of limited commercial value.
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