Saturday

25th May 2019

Afghanistan surge tops Nato ministers' meeting

  • Some 35,000 extra soldiers are set to be deployed next year in Afghanistan (Photo: Nato/Liepke Plancke/AVDD/RNLAF)

European, American and Canadian foreign ministers are later today (3 December) meeting at Nato headquarters in Brussels to discuss the new strategy for Afghanistan, Nato enlargement and relations with Russia.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton expects some of her European colleagues to signal willingness to increase their national contribution to the Nato mission in Afghanistan, after President Barack Obama on Tuesday outlined his new strategy for the country.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He said an additional 30,000 US troops will be deployed early next year, followed by soldiers from other countries contributing to the Nato mission in Afghanistan and set a deadline of one and half years to stabilise the country and then start withdrawing.

In his speech to cadets from the military academy at West Point, Mr Obama spoke of the urgent need to stop a spill-over effect into Pakistan, where the Taliban could acquire and use nuclear weapons.

"I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicentre of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. This is no idle danger, no hypothetical threat," he said, noting that in the past months, extremists had been captured on US soil.

They had been "sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror," Mr Obama said.

However, few European partners seem ready to commit to new troops, despite a recent diplomatic tour by Nato secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen to most capitals.

The US originally wanted 10,000 extra forces from Nato allies, a figure which has now been halved. On Wednesday, Mr Rasmussen said other Nato countries will provide at least 5,000 extra personnel, and "probably a few thousand on top of that".

Britain, Poland and Slovakia, as well as Nato aspirant Georgia, are said to be considering an increase in troops. But France, Germany and Italy are much more reluctant. Some indications of the commitments countries intend to make are likely to emerge after the ministers' dinner this evening.

Nato enlargement

Another topic on the agenda is Nato enlargement, particularly whether to grant Montenegro the next phase on its accession path – the so-called Membership Action Plan (MAP).

Bosnia and Herzegovina is also hoping to get an action plan but ministers are unlikely to give a green light, following the failed diplomatic attempts by the EU and US to end the political deadlock and press for more reforms.

Georgian and Ukrainian foreign ministers are also meeting with the Nato counterparts on Thursday. Both countries have been promised that they will eventually be members, but have not yet been given a roadmap for entry.

Russia has fiercely opposed their membership and while it has no veto power over Nato decisions, France and Germany are reluctant to upset Moscow.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will meet Nato ministers on Friday, during the Nato-Russia council. That same day, the EU's new top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, will use the opportunity to introduce herself to Ms Clinton and Mr Rasmussen.

EUobserved

Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'

The victory of the Dutch EU commissioner is news across the EU, yet the Netherlands is not allowed to publish the official result until Sunday evening.

EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'

EU leaders praised Theresa May's commitment to deliver an orderly Brexit - while they now brace themselves for an even more eurosceptic British prime minister.

Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?

This is a political crisis unprecedented in Austria since the war: the resignation of the vice-chancellor, firing of the interior minister, the mass resignation of FPO ministers, a snap election, and a no-confidence vote in the Austrian parliament on Monday.

Feature

Italy train row exposes competing views of EU

A planned high-speed railway connection through the Alps between Italy and France has been highly controversial for decades and is pitting governing Italian coalition parties against each other. But the European Commission insists it must go ahead.

Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll

Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans looks like the big winner in the first exit poll from the 2019 European Parliament election. British voters also cast their ballots amid predictions their prime minister is about to fall.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  2. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  3. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  4. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  5. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  6. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  7. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'
  8. EU sanctions regime cannot be an 'EU Magnitsky Act'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us