First EU peace mission postponed because of Turkey’s blockage

NATO will have to extend its peace operation in Macedonia up to December because Turkey is still blocking the EU-NATO deal, needed for the EU to take over the NATO-led operation.

The EU was expected to take the command of the peace
operation in Macedonia on 1 October. It would have been its first
mission under its new European Security and Defence Policy, whose
ultimate aim it is to set up 60,000-strong military forces in 2003
for European operations.

The NATO-led “Amber Fox” operation in Macedonia
consists of 800 soldiers, most of whom are European. It has a
mandate to protect international monitors, overseeing the
implementation of a peace agreement between the Macedonian majority
and an ethnic Albanian minority, concluded in 2000 after an
insurgency by ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

The EU cannot take over the mission without a
unanimous agreement from the 19 NATO member states on the terms for
European access to NATO’s assets and planning. Turkey has been
blocking the EU-NATO agreement since 2000.

 

There is also disagreement between the EU and the
United States over President George Bush's plans
to create a new NATO rapid reaction force that would operate beyond
the territory of NATO member states.

Belgium and France say a NATO rapid reaction force
could undermine the EU's plan to establish its own rapid reaction
force.

 

After having blocked the EU-NATO agreement for two years,
Turkey, a NATO but not an EU member, agreed with Britain and the
United States in December 2001 to lift its objections after
receiving guarantees that EU operations would not endanger Ankara's
interests in the region.

Greece, an EU and NATO member, now demands the
same assurances, stating its historical problems with Turkey as the
reason. The Greek Government is warning that giving a non-member
Turkey a say on the Union's defence policy would undermine the EU's
autonomy and principles.

Turkey objects to security guarantees for Greece
and is not willing to accept any changes to its earlier deal with
the US and Britain.

The dispute is now in the hands of Greece who
will be running the EU defence and security policy from 1 July 2002
until 1 July 2003, because Denmark, which runs the EU from 1 July
2002 until 31 December 2002, has opted out from the defence policy
area.

 

Belgium and France have proposed that the EU goes ahead with
the Macedonia operation without a NATO agreement because the
operation does not represent great military risk. According to
diplomats, France, in favour of a European defence policy more
independent from NATO, could provide the planning.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is expected
to propose the creation of a new NATO rapid reaction force at the
NATO defence ministers meeting in Warsaw on 24-25 September
2002.

 

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