Saturday

23rd Jan 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up

The EU is coaxing US president Joe Biden to open up to Cuba amid its worst economic crisis in decades, but foreign money risks feeding the regime's "feared" rule.

Portugal's EU presidency marks return of corporate sponsors

Last year's German EU presidency refused corporate sponsorships. But the new Portuguese presidency has decided they are needed and has signed three contracts. One of them is with one of Europe's largest paper companies, The Navigator Company.

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Opinion

A digital euro - could it happen?

"Banknotes are still to stay," European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said at a recent conference, "but I think we will have a digital euro."

News in Brief

  1. Hungary buys Russia's Sputnik V vaccine
  2. Netherlands imposes curfew to halt new corona variant
  3. Green NGO fails to stop Europe's biggest gas burner
  4. Swedish minister reminds Europe of Russia's war
  5. Spain: Jesuit order apologises for decades of sexual abuse
  6. NGOs urge Borrell to address Egypt rights 'crisis'
  7. EU conflict-area education aid favours boys
  8. EU told to avoid hydrogen in building renovations

EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up

The EU is coaxing US president Joe Biden to open up to Cuba amid its worst economic crisis in decades, but foreign money risks feeding the regime's "feared" rule.

Opinion

A digital euro - could it happen?

"Banknotes are still to stay," European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said at a recent conference, "but I think we will have a digital euro."

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk
  2. EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up
  3. Portugal's EU presidency marks return of corporate sponsors
  4. MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute
  5. EU warns UK to be 'very careful' in diplomatic status row
  6. A digital euro - could it happen?
  7. US returns to climate deal and WHO, as EU 'rejoices'
  8. Big tech: From Trump's best friend to censorship machine?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us