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SHAPE NEWS SUMMARY & ANALYSIS 07 OCTOBER 2002

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

ESDP

         EU vows to launch army on time, denies clash with U.S

BALKANS

         Bosnian nationalists must reform, says High Representative Ashdown

ANTI-NUCLEAR

         Belgian police arrests "bomb spotting" protesters

 

 

ESDP

 

         According to AFP, EU defense ministers meeting in Greece Saturday vowed to set up their long-stalled Rapid Reaction Force next year despite budgetary and other hurdles, and insisted it would not clash with a U.S.-proposed NATO Rapid Response Force.  The ministers reportedly reaffirmed a timetable to establish the 60,000-strong force by the end of 2003, saying certain EU member states had to increase defense budgets to meet the target date.  The dispatch notes that British Defense Secretary Hoon rejected reports that there would be a conflict between the EU force and the NATO force proposed by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.  "We believe that the EU and NATO's work is complementary. Both initiatives need Europeans to fill the capability gaps that have been identified and ultimately with a similar aim to improve European military capabilities," the dispatch quotes Hoon saying.  The news agency also quotes NATO Secretary General Robertson saying in a similar vein that the rapid reaction force being set up by the Europeans and NATO will be perfectly complementary and will not compete with each other.  "This is designed to complement the European Rapid Reaction Force and not to replace it.  It's something very different event though it uses a lot of the same forces.  I think that clarification was welcome, because we are in the early stages of the NATO reaction force, but we will not produce something that is designed to duplicate or to compete with the European Rapid Reaction Force," Lord Robertson reportedly said.  The dispatch observes that EU foreign policy chief Solana echoed the sentiments, saying:  "Most of the countries of the EU are also members of NATO. Therefore, whatever is done has to be done in a complimentary manner."  The dispatch further says that both NATO and EU officials admitted that NATO's Amber Fox operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would remain in place until the end of the year. 

 

Under the title, "European defense in a bad way," France's Le Figaro writes that the idea that the EU could replace NATO in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia seems buried, even if nobody wants to admit this officially.  The newspaper notes:  Generally speaking, the creation of a rapid reaction force, decided by the heads of states and governments in Helsinki in 1999 and promised by 2003, is confronted to two major obstacles: one political and one budgetary.  On the political side, there is still no agreement on the EU's use of NATO's assets. As far as budgets are concerned, EU security chief Solana may very well speak of a "promising start," but there is no sign that EU capitals are willing to follow France's example and increase defense budgets.  The article adds that in an effort to break the deadlock, the ministers have decided to organize monthly meetings of their armament directors.   The newspaper concludes that against this background, the debate at the EU meeting on the compatibility of the EU rapid reaction force and NATO's rapid reaction force, "seemed rather academic."

Noting that at their meeting in Greece, EU defense ministers resorted to the familiar rhetoric about the need to raise budgets, the Wall Street Journal suggests:  "(European) politicians . need to engage their electorates in a debate about the threats faced by western democracies and how to counter them. The goal need not be to match America's military strength.  But the allies need to be able to work with each other.  Proper reform in Europe has to be smart not merely costly.  In addition to obvious purchases like transport planes or precision-guided munitions, European governments need to reduce the number of men in uniform, a drain on resources, and move to professional forces..  As less gets spent on personnel, more should go to technology.  NATO countries are talking about greater specialization:  the Czechs, for example, are becoming experts in defending against chemical and biological weapons.  Allies can pool budgets to purchase hardware each alone can't afford. These are all sensible steps. To succeed, the Europeans need to plan and debate these reforms together. But these days they're going in different directions."

 

BALKANS

 

         AFP reports the top international envoy to Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, expressed confidence Monday that Bosnia would not turn back from reform even though voters apparently ignored western pressure and returned nationalists to power in weekend elections.  According to the dispatch, Ashdown insisted that multi-ethnic democracy was taking root in Bosnia and denied that the nationalists' victory was a setback for the Dayton peace plan.  "This was not a cry to return to the past, it was a cry of protest," Ashdown reportedly said, adding that the outgoing Alliance for Change coalition had failed to improve the lives of ordinary people during its two years in office.  The dispatch adds that Ashdown, who had earlier urged voters to reject the "hoary old ghosts of the past," said all parties, including those traditionally seen as nationalist, had made reformist statements in the lead-up to the elections.  "I judge people by their actions and not by their words.  I will work with those forces committed to reform . and who show by their actions that they're ready to carry that out," he stressed.  The dispatch recalls that under the Dayton accords, Ashdown's office has wide-ranging power to sack elected officials and impose laws.  A related article in The Daily Telegraph highlights that "the specter of nationalism returns in Bosnia poll."  The newspaper notes that the poll was of crucial importance because many countries are scaling back after investing billions of dollars in aid. "Bosnia now has to stand on its own," stresses the newspaper.  The Financial Times remarks that the elections are to determine all the top positions in the Bosnian state as well as in the ethnically defined entities into which it was divided after war by the Dayton accords.

 

 

 

 

ANTI-NUCLEAR

 

         Belgian media report that police on foot and horseback came out in force Saturday to arrest more than half the protesters at the Kleine Brogel air base.  They noted that police arrested some 1,100 out of an estimated 2,000 people taking part in a peaceful "bomb spotting" aimed at verifying the alleged presence of U.S. nuclear bombs in the base's bunkers.  Le Soir quotes a spokesman for the Forum for Peace Action, which organized the demonstration, saying similar protests would no longer be organized at Kleine Brogel.  "We will not continue this cat-and-mouse game for years.  If authorities do not dismantle the nuclear weapons, we will carry out other actions," the spokesman reportedly said. According to the article, he warned that this time, the demonstrations would be against SHAPE headquarters or NATO headquarters.

 

 

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