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Denmark Votes to Allow Its Soldiers to Join EU's Military Assignments

Sputnik News

Igor Kuznetsov

An overwhelming majority has in Denmark's recent referendum voted in favour of abandoning the 30-year-old defence opt-out and joining the EU's military cooperation - with the nation's pro-EU parties celebrating it as a token of solidarity with the rest of Europe.

A referendum on the abolition of the defenсe opt-out, one of Denmark's opt-outs from the European Union, has resulted in supporters of the move winning with approximately two thirds of the vote.

The referendum was announced in early March 2022 following a broad multi-party defence agreement reached during Russia's special operation to demiltarise and de-Nazify Ukraine, which Denmark, in line with the rest of the West, portrayed as "invasion".

The results mean that Denmark will now become part of the EU's military cooperation, and Danish soldiers can be sent out in EU-led operations.

With over 98 percent of the votes counted, the "yes" side ended up having almost 67 percent, according to Danish Radio.

Its political commentator Jens Ringberg the described this figure as "the largest yes that ever said in a Danish referendum for something that has to do with the EU".

MP Søren Pape Poulsen of the Conservative People's Party argued that the referendum result is about Danes' feeling of solidarity.

"There is war in Europe. It smoulders in several places. And given that we, Denmark, can also become involved in solving that task, I think the Danes have said that we should also take on that as part of a community", Pape Poulsen commented, adding that it makes him "proud and happy" in the currently "unstable" situation.

Until now, Denmark has had a special arrangement with the EU. The defence opt-out came about after a referendum in 1993. Denmark would not contribute to EU military operations, be it with money, materiel or soldiers. Most notably, Danish soldiers took part in the NATO operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but returned home when the EU took over. Copenhagen's other opt-outs include the euro and the police cooperation with the EU, also decided in referendums.

However, over the previous months, many parties changed course. Wholly 10 out of 13 parties represented in the Danish parliament recommended their voters to say "yes" at the ballot box. The national-conservative Danish People's Party has been arguably the fiercest opponent, claiming that the EU would have control over Danish soldiers.

Abolition supporters, by contrast, argue that no soldiers will be sent to EU missions without the approval of the Parliament. Furthermore, they said, a typical EU-led force will be tasked with peacekeeping. If the Danes were to participate in a separate "EU army", another referendum should be held.

© Sputnik

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