Friday

22nd Jan 2021

NATO and EU sign historic partnership agreement

  • NATO Secretary General LORD ROBERTSON and JAVIER SOLANA European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy agreed the EU will use NATO logistics, including information, and will have access to the NATO planning base SHAPE. (Photo: NATO)

The EU can finally really develop its Security and Defence Policy by having access to NATO capacities and assets after signing the partnership agreement Monday in NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Monday.

The agreement was concluded in a NATO meeting, attended by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana.

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The EU will now be allowed to use NATO logistics, including information, and from now on have access to the NATO planning base SHAPE, located in Mons, Belgium. "This is a milestone in the history of relations between NATO and the EU," said Lord Robertson.

The breakthrough came during the Copenhagen Summit last week. Up until then it was either Greece or Turkey who had blocked progress, mainly due to relations with the divided island Cyprus. At the Council, France and Germany were told to put pressure on Turkey to drop its position which it had maintained for the last two years.

The agreement clearly specifies that Europeans will only be present in the areas where NATO has no collective military engagement. The two forces will then be complementary and never competitive, both sides are keen to stress.

Crisis management possible

The EU will now have a stronger capacity for crisis management and can take over the peacekeeping operation Amber-Fox in Macedonia in the coming weeks. The European rapid reaction force (comprising 60,000 people who can be operational within 60 days for more than a year) will also be fully up and running in 2003.

The Bosnia mission, currently run by the NATO force SFOR will be taken over on 1 March next year. With the EU set to take on a bigger role in the Balkans, the US will reduce its presence in the area.

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1 January 2003 will be an important milestone for the EU as it marks the start of its first operation under the European Security and Defence Policy – the EU Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moreover, following a landmark agreement between NATO and the EU earlier this month, the Union will for the first time deploy its own soldiers in the Balkan republic of Macedonia possibly by February 2003, taking over the NATO "Amber Fox" peace-keeping mission.

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