EU defence plans blocked ahead of meeting with NATO

EU Foreign and Defence Ministers are meeting in Brussels on 14 May to discuss progress on creating a Rapid Reaction Force. Greece is blocking plans on EU-NATO defence co-operation because of its concerns over Turkey’s influence on EU defence policy, and no agreement is likely before the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Rejkyavik on 14-15 May.

The Foreign and Defence Ministers of the 15 EU Member States
will discuss a security agreement with NATO at a joint meeting in
Brussels on 14 May. They will also discuss crisis management,
notably preparations for the EU Police Mission in Bosnia and
Herzegovina and for a possible mission in Macedonia if the EU and
NATO reach a security agreement.

At a separate meeting, the Defence Ministers
will address the issue of EU military capabilities as set out at
the Laeken European Council, including the Capability Development
Mechanism, progress in the framework of the European Capabilities
Action Plan, the rapid response elements of the Helsinki “Headline
Goal”, the Command and Control arrangements for Operational
Headquarters, as well as co-operation in the field of armaments.
They will also meet their counterparts from the candidate
countries, Iceland and Norway.

Greece continues to dispute the so-called Ankara
agreement that would allow the EU access to NATO assets and
planning capabilities. Under the agreement, Turkey would receive
written guarantees over its security and geographical interests
during possible EU military operations in the region. Greece
refused the agreement, stating that it wanted the same guarantees
as Turkey.

 

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 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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