Greece ready to discuss EU-NATO cooperation on European defence

The Greek Foreign Minister, Tassos Yannitsis, stated on 12 March that Athens was ready to discuss its reservations regarding the EU Rapid Reaction Force with the Spanish Presidency.

Mr Yannitsis said that the details of the EU military force
should be discussed as soon as possible because Greece wishes to
contribute to the operations of the force. However, he underlined
that Greece wants to make sure its national interest is


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


The issue will be discussed at the Barcelona European Council
where the Greek Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, is expected to
present his country's position on the EU force to his European


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