Britain says EU not ready to send peace-keeping force to Macedonia

The British government has expressed serious concern that the EU Rapid Reaction Force is not yet able to take over a peace-keeping mission from NATO in Macedonia in June.

The NATO-led troops protect international observers
monitoring the peace process in Macedonia. The peace-keeping force
is also responsible for supervising the return of refugees.

The British Foreign Office said that Britain
would be part of the EU-led force in Macedonia for political
reasons, although the Defence Office warned that its troops could
be at risk because the EU is not ready for such a dangerous
mission.

The office of Britain’s Prime Minister, Tony
Blair, expressed hope on 3 March that the peace-keeping force would
not be needed in Macedonia beyond June, when NATO will end its
mission there.

 

European leaders agreed on a common defence strategy at the
Cologne Summit on 3 June 1999. 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 RRF should be
operational from 2003 onwards. Concentrating on humanitarian
relief, rescue, peace-keeping and crisis-management tasks
independently of NATO, the military force will be backed by a
5,000-strong EU police corps.

The European security and defence policy (ESDP)
was declared operational at the Laeken European Council in December
2001. However, most defence analysts are sceptical about the
ability of the EU to operate its defence policy given its a lack of
strategic capabilities.

 

The transfer of command of the Macedonia peace-keeping force
from NATO to the EU is expected to take place between June and
September 2002.

 

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