Sunday

29th May 2022

Nato chief tells EU to reach security pact with Turkey

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday spelt out the political steps needed in order for the military alliance and the EU to overcome a political deadlock stemming from a long-standing row between Turkey and Cyprus.

Mr Rasmussen argued that the EU must move to accommodate Turkish concerns and conclude an security agreement with Ankara.

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

  • Rasmussen says EU needs to accommodate some of Turkey's concerns (Photo: Nato)

"[EU] high representative Catherine Ashton and I have gotten off to a strong start in our co-operation and we both share the view that Nato and the EU need to talk and do more together from planning to procurement to operations," Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters after co-chairing a joint session of EU and Nato ambassadors with Ms Ashton.

The meeting, which was the first since Ms Ashton took office in December last year, was dedicated to the joint operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also touched on broader EU-Nato relations and the changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty, such as on how information on defence and security matters will be dealt with within EU's new diplomatic service.

Nato and EU diplomats have met informally every three months, but their gatherings have been limited to discussing the practicalities of missions such as the one in Bosnia. Any other issue touching broader inter-institutional relations would have immediately been blocked by Greece or France, who would stress that such matters needed to be discussed together with Cyprus, a member of the EU but not Nato.

Mr Rasmussen said he wanted these meetings to take place on "a much more regular basis," especially since the new treaty gives the EU and Ms Ashton a "more robust foreign policy role."

He conceded that the Turkish-Cypriot row, which has been blocking co-operation between the two institutions, is a "political complication" that won't be cleared "overnight", but he spelled out what needed to be done on both sides for this to happen.

The dispute over the northern part of Cyprus, which is still occupied by Turkish troops and whose independence is recognised only by Ankara has unsettled EU-Nato relations ever since Cyprus joined the EU in 2004. Ankara has vetoed any attempt at opening access to classified Nato documents to the Greek Cypriot authorities, while Cyprus has been blocking Turkish participation in EU defence activities.

Turkey has no access to EU documents relating to military missions, as it is the only Nato member not having signed a security agreement with the 27-strong bloc, precisely because of the Cypriot issue. Additionally, joint procurement initiatives on European level that are co-ordinated by the European Defence Agency are also off-limits.

"Speaking frankly, maybe a bit bluntly, the EU must move to accommodate some concerns raised by Nato allies that are not EU members. The EU should include non-EU contributors to the military decision-making process, it should conclude a security agreement with Turkey and an arrangement between Turkey and the European Defence Agency," Mr Rasmussen said.

But the former Danish Prime Minister, who admitted he was no diplomat but that this allowed him to speak openly, also conceded steps needed to be taken by his own organisation.

"On our side, it should be accepted that Cyprus is a country that deserves a seat at the table when we are having a dialogue between the EU and Nato," he said.

Just as in past meetings, Cyprus' ambassador to the EU's political and security committee was not invited at the Tuesday gathering, which is based on a series of practical arrangements called the "Berlin plus" agreements, allowing Nato to offer its technical support to EU-led missions, such as the one in Bosnia.

In some European capitals, this bilateral row is already starting to be seen as increasingly embarrassing, especially since more and more EU countries need to slash public spending, with parallel EU and Nato programmes translating into unnecessary additional and costly expenditures.

Berlin, for instance, has already been voicing its concern with Greek and Turkish authorities to stop treating each other as if they were still at war over the divided island of Cyprus and cut down their defence budgets.

Greece spends more than any other EU member on its military, about €13.4 billion or 5.6 percent of GDP and has recently pledged to bring the figure down to three percent, but only if Turkey does the same.

Orbán's new state of emergency under fire

Hungary's premier Viktor Orbán declared a state of emergency due to the war in neighbouring Ukraine hours after pushing a constitutional amendment through parliament, where two-thirds of MPs are controlled by his Fidesz party, allowing his government special powers.

Letter

Right of Reply: Hungarian government

The government in Budapest responds to EUobserver opinion piece "Are Orban's Covid powers now the 'new normal' in Hungary?"

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

Orbán's new state of emergency under fire

Hungary's premier Viktor Orbán declared a state of emergency due to the war in neighbouring Ukraine hours after pushing a constitutional amendment through parliament, where two-thirds of MPs are controlled by his Fidesz party, allowing his government special powers.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us