Greek-Turkish dispute continues blocking EU military force

At the Seville Summit, the EU, Greece and Turkey failed to reach an agreement on co-operation between NATO and the planned European military force.

Giving in to the pressure of his EU peers at the Seville Summit, the Greek Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, indicated that he was ready to accept arrangements for an EU-NATO deal. However, Turkey objected the security guarantees given to Greece and said it would not accept any changes to its earlier deal with the EU.

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.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said that Greece and Turkey will start talks aimed at resolving the dispute in the beginning of July.

A persisting dispute would rule out the planned EU takeover of the NATO-led peace keeping operation in Macedonia in the autumn.

 

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 issue has gained importance ahead of the November municipal elections in Greece. 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.

 

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