Greece disputes EU-Turkey defence agreement

Greece, an EU member, has warned that it may block the deal with Turkey on European rapid reaction force. Turkey had earlier announced that it was ready to drop its objections to NATO sharing its military equipment and planning capabilities with the EU rapid reaction force.

The Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou has warned that the fact that Turkey had accepted the deal “does not mean that Greece has agreed”. He stressed that the deal between Turkey, Britain and the United States did not apply to the EU as a whole. Greece could use its veto to block an EU agreement with Turkey.

The deal apparently meets Turkey’s demand to be consulted about the EU rapid reaction force’s activities on a case-by-case basis.

The EU is counting on NATO to provide its strategic capabilities to resolve potential European crises. However, the deal between the two organisations has been blocked for months by Turkey, a NATO but not an EU member. Turkey wants to participate in the EU’s decision-making on defence issues.

 

European leaders agreed on a common defence strategy at the Cologne Summit on 3 June 1999. The 15 Member States of the EU formally decided to create a rapid reaction force (RRF) of 60,000 men at the Nice European Council in December 2000. Some progress has been made in creating a military structure within the Council of Ministers in 2001. The RRF should be operational from 2003 on, concentrating on humanitarian relief, peace-keeping and crisis-management tasks independently of NATO.

 

Greece will give its response to the proposed agreement at the meeting of EU foreign ministers on 10 December.

The EU leaders will declare the common security and defence policy operational at their summit in Laeken on 14-15 December.

The EU has asked its high representative for foreign and security policy to study the possibility of extending the Union's competences on defence in the face of increased insecurity in the international environment after the 11 September terrorist attacks.

 

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