Sunday

19th Jan 2020

France signals full return to NATO

France will take a decision by the end of this year on returning to NATO's military structures, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said at a NATO summit in Bucharest on Thursday (3 April).

"At the end of the French presidency [of the EU] the moment will have come to conclude this process and to take the necessary decisions for France to take its full place in NATO structures," Mr Sarkozy was reported as saying by The Guardian.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

France left NATO's military command in 1966, when the then president Charles de Gaulle withdrew the French forces protesting against what he saw as ever growing US dominance within the organisation.

But on Thursday, Mr Sarkozy said that the door was now open for France to have a "strong renewal of its relations with NATO."

The French president also confirmed his country would send 700 soldiers to Afghanistan to strengthen NATO troops on the ground.

France could reintegrate into NATO's military command during the summit meeting of the organisation next year. The meeting will mark the 60th anniversary of the Alliance and is to be jointly hosted by Strasbourg in France and Kehl in Germany.

Macedonia disappointed by NATO rejection

Meanwhile, the Macedonian delegation decided to leave the NATO meeting a day earlier after Greece blocked a membership offer to the small ex-Yugoslav country, due to a 17-year-old dispute over its name.

Greece had the support of some other NATO states, notably France.

"We all hope that a solution can be found for FYROM, but we are at the sides of our Greek allies. When one wants to join NATO, a minimum of efforts have to be done," French president Sarkozy said in his speech.

The US, on the other hand, has backed Macedonia and the two countries will within the next two weeks sign a special bilateral agreement, under which Washington will guarantee Macedonia's safety, according to Macedonian news agency Makfax.

Athens refuses to recognise the constitutional name of its neighbour – Republic of Macedonia - as its northern province is also called Macedonia. UN-sponsored talks on the matter are still ongoing between the two states.

"This is a great disappointment that will impede the stability in the Balkans," said Nikola Dimitrov, Macedonia's negotiator in the name dispute talks with Greece.

"We are punished not because we didn't do our job, but because of who we are," he told the Associated Press.

For his part, the country's president Branko Crvenkovski said: "The sole obstacle which prevented Macedonia from obtaining a NATO membership invitation is the frustrations of our southern neighbour Greece, which has raised its irrational position to such a level to abuse the right of veto as Alliance's member," Macedonian news agency MIA reported.

An opening for Serbia

Two other Balkan countries, Croatia and Albania received invitations to join the military alliance as planned, while Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia have received invitations "to raise the level of their cooperation with NATO from Partnership for Peace to intensified dialogue," the host of the summit, Romanian president Traian Basescu announced on Thursday.

"Unlike its neighbours, Serbia made no request for this, but there was insistence inside the alliance to guarantee Serbia ties, once it decides to put an end to its isolation from NATO," he told the press.

Agenda

Davos and Libya in focus This WEEK

The all-powerful will meet in Davos after Berlin tries to resolve the Libyan conflict over the weekend, while MEPs will set the stage for final ratification of the Brexit deal.

China spy suspect worked for EU for 30 years

The former EU ambassador suspected by German prosecutors of spying for China was Gerhard Sabathil, according to EU officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Opinion

Why EU subsidy schemes don't work - the evidence

Counter to popular beliefs among policymakers, the positive effects of support schemes are found to be very limited. In order to revitalise Europe, the newly appointed EU Commission needs to reconsider government's role in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Catalan MEPs Puigdemont and Comin look for a party

The former head of the Catalan regional government, Carles Puigdemont, and one member of his government, Toni Comín, have requested to join the Greens/EFA group - but they do not close the door to other political groups.

Exclusive

Big Oil sponsors Croatia's EU presidency

Croatia's national oil company has become the EU council presidency's "official gasoline supplier" - in a move that appears to clash with aspirations of the European Green Deal. Critics say such sponsorships pose a reputational risk with the wider public.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

Boost for Right in post-Brexit EU parliament

The far-right Identity and Democracy will overtake the Greens as the fourth-largest party in the European Parliament on 1 February, after the UK's MEPs vacate their seats.

Opinion

Why EU minimum wage is actually bad idea for workers

As president of one of the largest trade union confederations in the EU, I see the need for good working conditions and decent pay in all member states - but an EU-wide minimum wage could be used to lower wages.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us