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Military

Updated: 19-Jan-2004
 

SHAPE News Morning Update

19 January 2004

NATO
  • NATO chief says bigger role in Iraq possible
  • Minister Papandreou urges reduced Greek-Turkish military spend

EU

  • Time Europe defended itself
  • EU and U.S. leaders should meet more says Belgian minister

BALKANS

  • NATO’s secretary-general says alliance to stay committed in Kosovo

IRAQ

  • France says no plans to send troops to Iraq yet

OTHER NEWS

  • U.S. and EU see deal soon on satellite navigation

NATO

  • NATO’s new secretary-general said that the alliance could play a greater role in bringing stability to Iraq but its priority remained its peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. “Nobody doubts that the stabilisation of Afghanistan is the main task facing NATO,” Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in a guest article for Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper released on Saturday ahead of publication. “But it is also possible to have a discussion over a bigger role for NATO in Iraq,” he added. The comments come amid signs that Germany and France may not stand in the way of expanding NATO’s role there. A German Defence Ministry spokesman said Germany would stock up a 200-strong military team helping reconstruction work in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz but gave no details on how many more troops would be sent. In an article released on Saturday ahead of publication, the weekly Der Spiegel said the team would be increased to 320 as the mission began to set up small bases away from the main provincial centres for troops and aid workers. The magazine said the reinforcements were also partly in response to an increased threat from drug gangs hit by the destruction of opium crops by British troops cracking down on a resurgence in drugs cultivation. (Reuters 171546 GMT Jan 04)

     

  • Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou asked Turkey to join his government in a pledge to cut military spending. Papandreou, who is set to replace Prime Minister Simitis as head of the ruling socialist Pasok party, said a cut to military spending would become a priority of a new Pasok government. “My vision is peace for the region... We (Greece and Turkey) must agree together to have a gradual and balanced reduction in defence spending after the March 7 elections,” he said on Saturday at a rally in Alexandroupolis. (Reuters 171525 GMT Jan 04)

EU

  • The EU’s top military official suggested on Sunday that American and European forces should be responsible for their own territorial defence and only cooperate on major crises outside their regions. Gen. Gustav Hagglund, who is chairman of the EU’s military committee, told a defence conference it was time Europe shouldered the defence of the continent itself. “The American and the European pillars (of NATO) would be responsible for their respective territorial defences, and would together engage in crisis management outside their own territories,” Gen. Hagglund told the conference in Salen, Sweden. “My prediction is that this will happen within the next decade,” he told a news conference later. U.S. forces would handle high-intensity operations involving terrorism and weapons of mass destruction while Europeans would concentrate on sustained low-intensity crisis management such as conflict prevention, he added. Gen. Hagglund, who will be replaced in April by Italian general, Rolando Mosca Moschini, said there was no threat in Europe that the EU now could not handle itself, especially after the bloc takes in 10 new members in May. “We don’t know if the U.S. will have forever the resources, or the interest, to defend Europe,” he added. (Reuters 181830 GMT Jan 04)

     

  • Belgian Foreign Minister Michel, a staunch critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, said on Saturday that European Union and U.S. leaders should meet more often to foster a close transatlantic partnership. “The EU and the United States should move quickly to new strategic forms of dialogue. The top meetings should again take place more often than once a year, and should become strategically relevant,” Louis Michel wrote in a column in De Standaard newspaper. (Reuters 170932 GMT Jan 04)

BALKANS

  • NATO’s new secretary-general pledged Friday that the alliance would remain committed to the province where thousands of troops were deployed to keep the peace after the 1999 war. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer travelled to Kosovo for a one-day visit to alliance peacekeepers and local leaders. Though NATO now faces post-Sept. 11 pressure to supply peacekeepers elsewhere - such as Afghanistan - de Hoop Scheffer said that “considerable changes in the structure” were not expected in Kosovo. “It might vary, but we will not see considerable changes and not a considerable downsizing,” he said. (AP 161751 Jan 04)

IRAQ

  • France said on Friday it was too early to discuss boosting NATO’s role in Iraq but, in a sign of warming relations with Washington, left the door open to sending troops there once a sovereign government is established. “This is not an issue at the moment,” Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said, asked by reporters whether France could back a NATO presence in Iraq. (Reuters 161540 GMT Jan 04)

OTHER NEWS

  • The United States and European Union could strike a deal within two or three months on cooperation between their respective satellite navigation systems, a U.S. official said on Friday. Washington had been worried about overlaps with GPS that could have harmed U.S. and NATO military operations. The European Commission said in a statement that the remaining issues were the coexistence of Galileo’s open signal and the GPS’s military signal in the event of a crisis and the prospect for further improving the EU system’s signal. (Reuters 161750 GMT Jan 04)

 



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