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Updated: 19-Jan-2004

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

16 January 2004


  • Hungarian minister inaugurates unit offered to NRF
  • NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer views NATO’s challenges


  • Turkey to contribute helicopters to Afghanistan mission
  • Canadian peacekeepers detain suspected drug smugglers in Kabul raid


  • EU welcomes positive U.S. signals on Galileo Satellite project


  • Budapest’s Kossuth Radio, Jan. 16, reported that in the central Hungarian town of Szolnok Friday, Defense Minister Ferenc Juhasz inaugurated a special reconnaissance company offered for the NRF. The elite-unit will be part of the NRF for six months, the broadcast noted.


  • In an interview with Paris’ Le Monde, Jan. 17, and a guest commentary in Bild am Sonntag, Jan. 18, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer analyzed NATO’s current and future challenges.
    “The priority for NATO is Afghanistan. But Iraq also remains on the agenda. The Alliance already plays a role there by providing support to the division commanded by Poland. We will analyze political developments in Iraq, such as the transfer of sovereignty in June-July and the formation of a legitimate government. I do not rule out the possibility that, at some stage, NATO’s role will be strengthened and extended, but we must take into account political developments in Iraq,” Le Monde quoted Mr. de Hoop Scheffer saying. Noting that NATO at present exercises the coordination and command of ISAF and responsibility for the new PRT in Kunduz, he reportedly added: “Of course, one cannot say that ISAF’s action is a success in the entire country, since its role has been confined to Kabul and the surrounding areas. The major challenge now is to facilitate voters’ registration for next year’s elections. Pessimists were saying that in that country which has no tradition of democracy or central government, the loya jirga - which adopted a constitution - would not succeed. They were wrong. The task remains Herculean, but much progress has been made.” Reacting to the newspaper’s observation that while NATO’s strategy remains to establish more PRTs, member countries have problems of military capabilities with a view to taking on such a role, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer was further quoted saying: “The key word is ‘capabilities.’ Foreign and Defense ministers made the important decision, last December, to support the political process in Afghanistan. It is a case of noblesse oblige: they cannot say, ‘We have made that decision but we lack the military capabilities and the financial resources.’ NATO defense ministers will meet in Munich in 15 days and I will remind them it was they who made this decision.” Asked how he envisions the functioning of a European military headquarters, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer replied: “Three scenarios are possible in time of crises: First, a NATO intervention. Then, if NATO does not want to intervene, there are the Berlin Plus accords, a possibility for the EU to resort to NATO’s assets. Last, apart from Berlin Plus, the EU can intervene on its own. The link between the planning cell at SHAPE and NATO liaison officers at the EU cell is a good thing. We will see how this goes in practice. I attach great importance to good relations between the EU and NATO.” Asked for his interpretation of the Berlin Plus accords, he said: “NATO performs the prime role. But all this is rather theoretical. In the light of the EU’s present capabilities, the question will always be put first to NATO. Let’s not forget that France, Britain and perhaps Germany are the only EU countries which could, in theory, intervene militarily…. The Alliance has an integrated military structure which is unique, whereas the EU has limited military capabilities.”
    In Bild am Sonntag, Jan. 18, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer stated: What are the great discussions that NATO will have to face? First--Afghanistan. We have to double our efforts there. Anyone who wants to win the war against terrorism must not loose Afghanistan. Therefore, the expansion of NATO’s presence beyond the capital of Kabul is the right political as well as military step. Germany has made great contributions in this regard. However, I expect from all NATO member states an even larger readiness to provide enough troops and equipment for this task. Second-- Iraq. Nobody doubts that the stabilization of Afghanistan is NATO’s primary task. However, a discussion about an extended role for NATO in Iraq cannot be ruled out. When the discussion begins, we will have to show respect for each other on both side of the Atlantic. Third--the Balkans. NATO played a key role during the pacification of South-Eastern Europe. Its decisive actions ended the civil wars there and led the Balkans back on the track in Europe. In Bosnia, the time has come now to substitute NATO forces for an EU mission. However, Kosovo and the Balkans overall still require the stabilizing presence of the Atlantic Alliance. Mr. de Hoop Scheffer concluded: “Can NATO do all of this? It can—if the member states want it and if they put their money where their mouth is. This meanly means that plans for military reforms must not remain empty talks but have to result in a real increase in military capabilities. So far, all NATO nations have pledged to do better. My task as NATO’s new secretary general will be to insistently remind them of their pledge.”


  • The Turkish army said Friday that Ankara had decided to contribute three helicopters to ISAF, reports AFP. According to the dispatch, Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Basbug told reporters the helicopters would be sent to Kabul once technical talks on the issue were completed. The Netherlands has promised five helicopters, while Germany has pledged another three, he added.


  • According to AP, Canadian peacekeepers said Monday they had detained 16 people in a raid against suspected drug smugglers and terrorists in the Afghan capital Kabul. The men were taken into custody Sunday morning when some 200 soldiers surrounded and stormed a compound in southern Kabul, a spokesman for the peacekeepers is quoted saying. Five were being questioned Monday at a Canadian base in the west of the city. The rest were handed over to Afghan police, who said they had released them. “About 5,500 peacekeepers, mostly Canadian and German soldiers, are stationed in Kabul. The troops are a common sight on patrol around the city, but rarely take offensive action,” the dispatch observes.

    Der Spiegel, which claims that Defense Minister Struck briefed the Cabinet that there would soon be 320 troops operating in the German PRT in Kunduz, argues that the reinforcements are also partly in response to a threat from drug gangs hit by the destruction of opium crops.
    Noting that 171 German soldiers are currently deployed in Kunduz, the weekly says: “The dangers for the German soldiers in Afghanistan is increasing: British units started to burn poppy fields in the region of Konduz to fight drug trafficking. The Federal Government now wants to considerably reinforce its troops in the region. The reinforcement is necessary, because in the capitals of the other provinces that also belong to the German sector, it is planned to establish ‘outposts.’ These outposts, so-called ‘satellites,” as they are called in diplomatic jargon, should serve as shelters for the soldiers and development helpers…. The German soldiers are in additional danger because British soldiers have started to combat drug cultivation by burning down poppy fields in the region…. People in (Chancellor Schroeder’s) office fear that the drug barons might take revenge actions against Germans.”


  • AFP reports the EU Friday welcomed signs that the United States is overcoming its objections to Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system, a potential rival to the U.S. GPS network. The dispatch quotes EU Commission Vice President Loyola de Palacio saying she hoped talks in Washington on Jan. 29-30 would iron out the remaining obstacles holding up a joint cooperation agreement on the satellite issue. “Positive statements last week by U.S. officials reinforce the EU’s goal of defining, together with our U.S. partners, the standard for the best possible civil system for the benefit of users worldwide,” she reportedly stated. According to the dispatch, the talks will tackle the coexistence of Galileo’s civilian signal with GPS and the modulation of GPS’ military signal in the event of crisis.


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