31st May 2020

Solana tasked to draft European strategic concept

  • The 25 European foreign ministers discussed the merits of establishing a doctrine for the use of force in the event that peaceful efforts at enforcement do not work. (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Union needs a strategic concept to govern and cover new major issues such as weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, agreed European foreign ministers at the weekend.

At a meeting on the Greek island of Rhodes, ministers tasked the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, to draft such a proposal for discussion at the European Council in Thessaloniki on 20-21 June.

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The foreign ministers discussed potential alternatives to the pre-emptive use of force against countries that pose a threat to international security. They also discussed the merits of establishing a doctrine for the use of force in the event that peaceful efforts at enforcement do not work.

"We said it was time for the European Union to discuss the new major issues, like weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. Not just in order to produce a common position, but in order for us to produce a European strategic concept governing or covering these subjects," Greek foreign minister George Papandreou said in a press conference after the informal meeting.

The EU strategy should be effective and European and help in the dialogue with the US: "Not as a competitor, but contributing to finding a solution to these problems", Mr Papandreou underlined.

Mr Solana underlined that the EU is not holding the elements of military power, which is a essential part of American strategies.

"We do not have that type of thing; we have only the elements which are allowed, to be able to be constructive in the European Union, which is crisis management military operations," Mr Solana stated.

Support for Arafat

It was the first time the 25 foreign ministers, from the current 15 EU members plus the 10 accession countries, met for a Gymnich meeting - as these informal foreign minister meetings are called.

The ministers expressed unanimous support for the "road map" toward Palestinian statehood by 2005, which the EU, jointly with the US, Russia and the United Nations, presented last week.

They agreed that it could be counterproductive to see peace talks as an excuse to sideline Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, saying that this would hurt the credibility of newly appointed Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas with his own people.

"Arafat is a historical figure and a necessary player," said Mr Papandreou.

The EU ministers also agreed to send diplomats back to Baghdad as soon as possible.

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