Greece continues to oppose Turkish participation in EU defence policy

The Greek government has announced that Greece will continue blocking any proposals allowing non-member Turkey to have a say in EU defence policy.

The Greek government said that this was not an issue of
“Greek-Turkish difference”, but “a difference between the EU and
third countries”.

Greece objects to an agreement reached by
Britain, the United States and Turkey that would allow the EU to
use NATO military assets. In exchange, Turkey, a NATO but not an EU
member, would have the right to block some EU decisions on defence
policy.

The Greek Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, has
said Greece will veto any proposal giving Turkey a say in the EU
defence policy.

 

EU leaders declared the common defence policy operational at
the Laeken European Council in December 2001 despite the absence of
an agreement with NATO to use its military equipment and planning
capabilities. Greece blocked the agreement between Britain and
Turkey on the European rapid reaction force in December, warning
against giving Turkey a say on EU defence issues.

The 15 EU Member States formally decided to
create a rapid reaction force (RRF) of 60,000 men at the Nice
European Council in December 2000. The force should be operational
from 2003, and should concentrate on humanitarian relief,
peace-keeping and crisis-management tasks independently of
NATO.

 

The issue will be discussed during the visit by NATO
Secretary-General, Lord Robertson, and the EU High Representative
for Security and Foreign Policy, Javier Solana, to Greece on 18
April.

The EU and NATO would like to reach an agreement
before September, when the EU is expected to take over the command
of a NATO peacekeeping operation in Macedonia.

 

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