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Observatory on European defence, July-August 2008


1st July 2008
European Union - French Presidency: ESDP Programme

On 1st July, France assumed the EU Presidency and presented a programme setting several goals dealing with the European Security and Defence Policy (ESPD), including:
- reviewing the European Security Strategy (2003) for the next ten years, with specific reference to the capabilities and instruments to be developed;
- development of the military and civilian capabilities for crisis management, also giving greater importance to the European Defence Agency;
- development of ESDP institutional tools, with regard to some of the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon (permanent structured cooperation), so as to make them operational once it comes into force;
- active role in international counter-terrorism and in the fight against proliferation and disarmament;
- consolidation of the most important partnerships (NATO, UN, African Union) in the frame of a multilateral cooperation for security.

22 July 2008 
General Affairs and External Relations Council - Chad

Ministers adopted the conclusions concerning the deployment of the EUFOR CHAD/RCA mission, and the EU military operation in eastern Chad and in the north-eastern Centro African Republic, thus confirming its important role in the security and humanitarian situation in covered areas, also thanks to the excellent coordination with the other international presences (UN MINURCAT mission in Chad and UN-AU UNAMID mission in Darfur).
Some third countries are also taking part (or are going to) in the mission: on 13 July an agreement with Albania was concluded to send 60 soldiers; later (30 July), Russia formally decided to send about 120 soldiers and helicopter assets. However, full operational capability, formerly planned for last June, was postponed to September: currently, about 3,200 out of the 4,400 units planned have been deployed.
The mission is planned to conclude in March 2009 and ministers, in this phase of intermediate review, have been exhorting the Council's appropriate bodies to set the rules for its further implementation and for its hand-over to a possible UN mission, so as to put some European forces and assets under UN command.

July/August 2008
EU capabilities - Military capabilities and Civil Protection, Space

On 8 July, the European Defence Agency Steering Committee, meeting at the Armament National Directors' level, approved a plan for the development of capabilities, prepared by the Agency with the support of the European Military Committee. It identifies 12 priority areas:
- Counter Man Portable Air Defence Systems
- Computer Network Operations
- Mine Counter-Measures in littoral sea areas
- Comprehensive Approach - military implications
- Military Human Intelligence and Cultural / Language Training
- Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Architecture
- Medical Support - Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence
- Third Party Logistic Support
- Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED)
- Increased availability of helicopters
- Network Enabled Capability.
The initiative is not meant to replace the national decision-making processes, but to support them through detailed actions provided by the Agency, such as specific mechanisms to enhance cooperation among the State members for optimising the investments.
In addition, the development of capabilities is also one of the priority targets of the French Presidency semester, with particular reference to space and air capabilities (among the latter, the Anglo-French initiative for helicopters and the creation of a common A400M fleet following the example of C-17 sharing among some NATO member states).
It is important to remember that the French proposal of creating a real-time maritime surveillance network, equipped with a European planning and command body, is meant to counter piracy and illegal traffic in a more effective way.
A clear objective of the French Presidency is to strengthen the European Civil Protection Mechanism, effectively activated during last summer to combat bushfires in Greece and floods in Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. There are three important guidelines: catastrophe prevention, preparation (aimed at joint management of rescue operations, also from the operational point of view) and response (aimed at rationalising available assets and providing for a European plan for the evacuation of citizens).
The French Presidency also highlights the importance of developing a European space policy:
- on 1 July, the European Commission and the European Space Agency, ESA, called for tenders for building the infrastructures of the European satellite navigation system, Galileo;
- on 3 July, the Council adopted a Regulation for further implementation of the European satellite navigation radio programmes, EGNOS and Galileo. Its text, approved by the European Parliament (EP) on 9 July, represents the basis for the 2007-2013 financing;
- on 10 July, the EP approved, by a large majority, a resolution underlining the need for reliable and independent assets providing complete information to make ESPD more effective;
- on 18 July, EU and ESA signed an agreement on security and the exchange of classified information;
- on 21 and 22 July, the ministers in charge of space affairs met at the Space centre in Kouros in French Guyana.

July/August 2008
EU, NATO - Afghanistan

On 8 July, the EU Political and Security Committee (PSC) was informed of the complete operational capability of the EUPOL ESPD mission in Afghanistan, aimed at training the local police. The mission, which began in June 2007 and initially planned to last 3 years, has been deployed 177 soldiers since 1 August. Nevertheless, that does not seem to be enough to cover all districts of the 14 provinces involved. To this end, the US stated their willingness to sign an agreement to support the protection of these units.
On 8 July, the EP adopted another Resolution dealing with the stabilization of Afghanistan, which stresses the importance of supporting the efforts of NATO and EU forces, even in non-military fields. It also reiterates the need for long-term engagement for civil reconstruction, promotion of European investments, reforms in the police and justice sectors, the fight against corruption, drug trafficking, and the restoration of legality as a whole.
The security continues to be an emergency in Afghanistan: on 7 July, a bomb attack against the Indian Embassy claimed 40 victims and injured 150 people.
In the meantime, President Karzai and the Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani agreed to work out a joint strategy to counter cross-border terrorism.
However, the emergency also concerns the Afghani civilian population, more and more often victims of the military operations, in particular bombings: in the first semester of 2008, there have been about 700 casualties among civilians (officially 225 caused by foreign forces and the Afghan army). It is a very delicate situation for public opinion and the Afghan and western institutions. President Karzai demanded inquiries into the bomb attacks that caused dozens of civilian casualties, which concluded blaming the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (even in support of NATO ISAF mission units).

July/August 2008
NATO - Defence Ministers meeting, Appointments

On 8 July, the ECOFIN Council adopted a project to strengthen cooperation in the fight against radicalisation and recruitment to the ranks of terrorism.
On 24- 25 July, the Justice and Home Affairs Council approved:
- an updated version of the EU Strategy to counter terrorism financing (2004);
- an agreement stating the need for the EU to have at its disposal a Passenger Name Record (PNR) system and the first guidelines concerning the method to be used for access by the appropriate authorities of State members;
- a proposal for the creation of a European plan to counter computer crimes, providing for the creation in Europol of an alarm system in case of hacking;
- a political agreement on reinforcing Eurojust, also by means of an emergency coordinating mechanism. Information exchange needs to be improved: Eurojust should be able to access Europol's archives in a more systematic way.

July/August 2008
Crisis in Georgia

The tensions present in the secessionist Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia re-emerged violently last summer during a clash between the Russian army and the Georgian one. In years past, these regions have held referenda concerning their independence, but in a way that did not make it possible for the international Community to recognize them officially.
In spring 2008, Moscow, already cooperating with these two regions, and present with peacekeeping tasks, decided to strengthen its relationship and establish official relations with the local Authorities.
Following several explosions in Abkhazia, for which the Tbilisi Government was blamed - (the latter denied any responsibility)- on 1 July, the Region decided to close partially the border with Georgia.
At the same time, the sea link between Gagra in Abkhazia and Sochi in Russia was re-opened, having been closed since the Nineties.
Closing the borders went against the 1994 peace agreements and Tbilisi asked Moscow to explain why Russian forces present with peacekeeping tasks did not intervene to prevent it.
Explosions, killings and injury to people continued and on 7 July the Abkhazia Authorities cut off all relations with Tbilisi, charging it with acts of terrorism.
On 8 July, Abkhazia rejected the US proposal to let foreign forces in for international peacekeeping, preferring the Russian ones already deployed there.
On 11 July, Georgia asked the UN Security Council to meet to discuss Moscow's use, on 9 July, of the air space over Southern Ossetia in order to, according to the Kremlin, pre-empt possible attacks from Georgia.
On 7 August, Tbilisi launched an offensive with bombings in South Ossetia.
Moscow accused Tbilisi of striking civilians, as well as Russian peacekeepers, and reacted violently, resorting to anti-aircraft artillery in Southern Ossetia and then bombing and penetrating Georgian territory: the towns of Poti and Gori, together with the international airport and suburbs in Tbilisi, were struck.
Russian and Abkhazian jets attacked some Georgian police units deployed in the Kodori Valley (Abkhazia) since 2006, in violation of the 1994 peace agreements.
Ambivalent information was released day after day.
On 10 August, Tbilisi claimed to have formally demanded that Moscow sign a ceasefire . Moscow denied having received it, while the bombings against Georgian towns continued. The Georgian Government declared to have withdrawn its troops, while Russia denounced attacks against Russian and Ossetian forces.
There were hundreds of victims and at least 30,000 refugees. With regard to the EU, the European Commission allocated 6 million Euros and resorted to its civil protection mechanism to help the 100,000 Georgian civilian victims of the war.
This serious humanitarian situation activated the international community, even though most of the aid failed to reach the inner areas of the separatist regions.
State representatives and international organizations asked for a ceasefire and tried to act as mediators, while the Security Council met without reaching a compromise.
The French Presidency succeeded in making the parties sign a ceasefire and a plan for peace. It was illustrated to the General Affairs and External Relation Council on 13 August and detailed in 6 points:
(1) Not to resort to force;
(2) To end hostilities definitively;
(3) To provide free access for humanitarian aid;
(4) Georgian military forces will have to withdraw to their usual bases;
(5) Russian military forces will have to withdraw to the lines held prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Pending an international mechanism, Russian peace-keeping forces will implement additional security measures;
(6) Opening of international talks on the security and stability arrangements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The plan does not provide for either sanctions on Moscow or the restoration of Georgian territorial integrity, even though full support is confirmed to the latter.
The plan is to be carried out entirely and, in the meantime, all meetings with Russia have been suspended (for example, the 4 July talks on the new EU-Russia Strategic Partnership, also concerning energy and security issues, had already begun).
This is a compromise text that will be re-analysed by the Security Council in which Russia has veto power.
The Council's conclusions also refer to the need for the EU to diversify the providers and routes of energy products, a fundamental issue in the relationship with Russia. To this end, the Council, cooperating with the Commission, has been formally entrusted with this task.
NATO held two extraordinary meetings of the North Atlantic Council. First, on 12 August, the Council supported the EU and OSCE efforts to resolve the conflict, deploring Russia's disproportionately high use of force and exhorting Moscow to respect Georgian territorial integrity and return to the previous status quo.
On 19 August, during a second summit requested by the US, a final declaration was adopted, which again defined Russia's use of force as disproportionately high and inconsistent with its peacekeeping tasks in the two regions. It recognized Georgia's right to have its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity respected.
The NATO-Russia Council's works were suspended and Moscow was exhorted to withdraw its troops. The European Parliament's declaration of 20 August went in the same direction.
On 20 August, the Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs asked the EU to send an observation mission. This Council will take a formal decision on the matter next September. In the meantime, the PSC did not manage to reach an agreement on an ESPD military mission, but stated that the EU has to enhance its role in the field by strengthening its EU Special Representative staff in for Georgia and sending a surveillance mission to support UN and OSCE personnel. This mission could be made up of 300 units and a group of experts is currently evaluating its feasibility.
On 26 August, Moscow unilaterally recognized the independence of the two secessionist regions, triggering the international Community's condemnation.

July/August 2008
Europe - US missile defence

On 8 July, the Czech Republic signed an agreement, now waiting for parliamentary ratification, dealing with the installation of a US radar on its territory.
On 20 August, Warsaw also signed an agreement with Washington for the installation of 10 interceptors on a former military base under Polish jurisdiction. In addition to the agreement, Warsaw signed a declaration of strategic cooperation, which provides for the creation of a consulting group aimed at enhancing strategic cooperation between the parties and modernizing the Polish Army. It also includes the presence of a battery of Patriot short-range missiles on Polish territory.
The agreement, valid for the next twenty years and awaiting ratification by the Polish parliament, as well as by the US Congress, provoked a harsh reaction from the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, who declared that the missiles deployed in Poland are clearly directed against Russia's intercontinental ballistic missiles, thus forcing Moscow to respond not only with diplomatic means.

July/August 2008
EU - Non proliferation, Iran

During the General Affairs and External Relation Council of 22 July, the EU CFSP High Representative Solana reported on his meeting with the Iranian negotiator, Jalili. The meeting, held on 19 July in Geneva, did not succeed in finding a possible agreement on the joint proposal (China, France, Germany, UK, Russia, USA and EU) put forward in June 2008, which aimed at re-opening the talks for the suspension of uranium enrichment in exchange for support and cooperation measures in the economic and commercial fields, as well in the fields of civilian nuclear development and research and development as such.
The EU offered Iran not to support new UN sanctions in exchange for the suspension of uranium enrichment, i. e. not increasing the number of centrifuges. Teheran's response, which arrived on 5 August, did not satisfy the EU. Therefore, the Council adopted a Common Position (8 August), that amended the one concerning the adoption of restrictive measures on the basis of Security Council Resolution 1803 (2008), which envisaged tightening the sanctions - in particular, freezing funds and economic resources and restricting admission and banning flight - already put into place by the previous resolutions 1737 (2006) and 1747 (2007).
The EU Presidency also expressed its concern over the 10 July Iranian tests of short- and medium-range missiles.