Turkey lifts veto on NATO assistance to EU military force

Turkey announced over the weekend that it is ready to drop its objections to NATO sharing its military equipment and planning capabilities with the EU rapid reaction force. Ankara said that negotiations between Turkey, NATO and the EU have produced a basis for cooperation.

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.

The Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Eçevit has
said that Turkey’s expectations “have to a very large extent been
met”. He said that Turkey had made no compromises.

The agreement will facilitate Turkey’s
cooperation with the EU. Ankara will be allowed to take part in the
Convention that will discuss further reforms for the enlarged
Union.

 

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.

 

The final agreement is expected at the meeting of the 19 NATO
foreign ministers in Brussels on 6 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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