Joachim Fritz-Vannahme
11. March 2020

Who protects Europe’s security?

What is the aim of the Turkish President today?

What is the Russian head of state up to? Eigentlich würde ich hier auch eher direkt President statt head of state schreiben!

And when will the guy in Washington hurl his next lightning bolts?

And anyway, what can we do against the corona virus, falling oil prices, plummeting stock markets, threatening recessions?


So many distressed people in #Europe


Nothing is as certain as the next crisis.

At least for the distressed people in Europe, where public life is at a standstill in Italy, where thousands of refugees are stuck on the Turkish-Greek border and on Greek islands, where the Libyan civil war makes it easy for traffickers into the EU, where border conflicts between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, between good neighbours Spain and Morocco, flare up.


So what about the #security of the #European_Union?


The question of EU security is old


The question is an old one, and, unfortunately, so are the answers. Even if this is no consolation in such troubled days, we should remind EU politicians of their duties.


For these promises – of projects we no longer dare to talk – were laid down and ratified more than twenty years ago by the European Council of Heads of State and Government. You rub your eyes when you read them…


Twenty years ago in Cologne… So many decisions were made there and then…


Here are a few stilted key sentences from the Cologne Conclusions of the EU Council meeting on 3 and 4 June 1999 (!).


“We are convinced that to fully assume its tasks in the field of conflict prevention and crisis management the European Union must have at its disposal the appropriate capabilities and instruments. We therefore commit ourselves to further develop more effective European military capabilities from the basis of existing national, bi-national and multinational capabilities and to strengthen our own capabilities for that purpose. This requires the maintenance of a sustained defence effort, ….”



Trump only demands what the EU has long since promised


Right, that is exactly what a Donald Trump demands of Europeans today. Probably without ever having read the relevant EU document…


And one more quote to remind us of groundless promises and lasting omissions:


“As regards military capabilities, Member States need to develop further forces (including headquarters) that are suited also to crisis management operations, without any unnecessary duplication.”


Today, the EU can neither secure its external borders militarily nor put an end to a civil war in Libya, let alone face a sophisticated autocrat like Vladimir Putin (let’s not talk about Syria, the Crimea and Georgia also belong on the black list) on an equal footing, and certainly not put a dictator like the Syrian Assad in his place.


The Turk in Brussels, the Libyan in Paris – it doesn’t work like that


This Monday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel received Turkish President Recep Erdogan in Brussels. After two hours, everything was said and done, the weighty “rest” of the dispute being negotiated by ministerial committees.


At the same time, French President Emmanuel Macron received Libyan rebel general Khalifa Haftar in Paris – his opponent Fayez al-Sarraj, acting prime minister of his country, is supported militarily by Erdogan. This is much to the chagrin of the Greeks, because in a diplomatic coup d’état in the Aegean, al-Sarraj and Erdogan have redistributed the resource-rich continental shelf among themselves. Which is why Macron, as the FAZ reports, sees “the stability of the eastern Mediterranean at stake”.


Just one example of how the European Union “fully assume[s] its tasks in the field of conflict prevention and crisis management”.


The EU as a geopolitical player: can you believe it?


Von der Leyen sees this Union as a geopolitical player in the future, and that is a good thing: but after two decades, it is still not even a regional political player that can at least put its front yard in order. Worse still, Paris, Berlin and Brussels are obviously not even in agreement with whom, against whom they want to hold it up.


Perhaps the “crisis management operations” once promised at Cologne must continue to be directed preferentially towards disorder in one’s own house.


Photo by Lucas Carl on Unsplash




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