Category Archives: defence

EU needs more “European Defence”

Brussels 02.09.2021 “Today, we are going to have a meeting that will be dominated by the events in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will be the backdrop of our discussions today” said the High Representative Josep Borrell upon arrival to Informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers.

“I think that it is clear that the need for more ‘European Defence’ has never been as evident as today – after the events in Afghanistan. I am sure that the Ministers will discuss how to face this new situation and how we can be more prepared for future challenges.

“The Strategic Compass is a work in progress. In a couple of months, I think we will be able to present the report of our work, but sometimes there are events that catalyse the history. Something happens and pushes the history, it creates a breakthrough. I think that the events in Afghanistan this summer are one of these cases.

“I hope that today the discussion will be more lively and we will be more engaged on concrete results – no, [there will be no] decisions today, because it is an informal meeting, but to prepare, no later than October or November, the final draft of the Strategic Compass”.

According to Reuters news agency in the last call between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Afghanistan counterpart before the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, the leaders discussed military aid, political strategy and messaging tactics, but neither Biden nor Ashraf Ghani appeared aware of or prepared for the imminent danger of the entire country falling to feet of insurgents, a transcript reviewed is a convincing evidence of this lack of awareness.

The politicians spoke for roughly 14 minutes on July 23. On August 15, Ghani fled the presidential palace, and the Taliban entered Kabul. Since then, tens of thousands of desperate Afghans have fled and 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians were killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport during the frenetic U.S. military evacuation.

Afghanistan: NATO continues evacuations

Brussels 20.08.2021 NATO Foreign Ministers met via teleconference on Friday (20 August 2021) to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. “What we have witnessed in recent days is a tragedy for the people of Afghanistan,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He stressed that NATO’s top priority is the continuing evacuation of people from Allied and partner countries, and Afghans who have worked with NATO.
Statement by NATO Foreign Ministers on Afghanistan:
“We, the Foreign Ministers of NATO, met today to discuss the difficult situation in Afghanistan:

“We are united in our deep concern about the grave events in Afghanistan and call for an immediate end to the violence. We also express deep concerns about reports of serious human rights violations and abuses across Afghanistan. We affirm our commitment to the statement by the UN Security Council on 16 August, and we call for adherence to international norms and standards on human rights and international humanitarian law in all circumstances.

“Our immediate task now is to meet our commitments to continue the safe evacuation of our citizens, partner country nationals, and at-risk Afghans, in particular those who have assisted our efforts. We call on those in positions of authority in Afghanistan to respect and facilitate their safe and orderly departure, including through Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. As long as evacuation operations continue, we will maintain our close operational coordination through Allied military means at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

“The Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security and dignity, and to build on the important political, economic and social achievements they have made over the last twenty years. We stand by civil society actors who must be able to continue to safely play their meaningful role in Afghan society. We call on all parties in Afghanistan to work in good faith to establish an inclusive and representative government, including with the meaningful participation of women and minority groups. Under the current circumstances, NATO has suspended all support to the Afghan authorities. Any future Afghan government must adhere to Afghanistan’s international obligations; safeguard the human rights of all Afghans, particularly women, children, and minorities; uphold the rule of law; allow unhindered humanitarian access; and ensure that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists.

“For the last twenty years, we have successfully denied terrorists a safe haven in Afghanistan from which to instigate attacks. We will not allow any terrorists to threaten us. We remain committed to fighting terrorism with determination, resolve, and in solidarity.

“We honour the service and sacrifice of all who have worked tirelessly over the last twenty years to realise a better future for Afghanistan. Together, we will fully reflect on our engagement in Afghanistan and draw the necessary lessons.

“We will continue to promote the stable, prosperous Afghanistan that the Afghan people deserve and address the critical questions facing Afghanistan and the region, in the immediate future and beyond, including through our cooperation with regional and international partners, such as the European Union and United Nations”.

NATO receives ISRAEL Foreign Minister Lapid

Brussels 12.07.2021 Today NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met at NATO Headquarters with H.E. Yair Lapid, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Alternate Prime Minister of Israel. They discussed a range of issues related to NATO-Israel relations.

The Secretary General said that Israel is one of NATO’s most engaged and capable partners, and he pointed out that exchanges at the staff-to-staff and expert-level have continued, despite the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Israel has been an important partner to NATO for more than 20 years, as well as an active member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue. NATO and Israel cooperate in different domains, including science and technology, civil emergencies preparedness and management, resilience, counter-terrorism, military medicine, countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and women, peace and security.

Secretary General Stoltenberg and Minister Lapid also shared views on the prospects for potential cooperation between NATO and Israel in other areas of shared interest, including climate change, defence innovation, and emerging and disruptive technologies. He also restressed Allies’ continued calls on Iran to uphold and fully implement all its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and its safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and refrain from all activities which are inconsistent with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.

NATO faces multifaceted threats

Brussels 14.06.2021 “…We face multifaceted threats, systemic competition from assertive and authoritarian powers, as well as growing security challenges to our countries and our citizens from all strategic directions” reads the Brussels Summit Communiqué Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels 14 June 2021.

“Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security; terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a persistent threat to us all. State and non-state actors challenge the rules-based international order and seek to undermine democracy across the globe. Instability beyond our borders is also contributing to irregular migration and human trafficking. China’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance”.

“We will engage China with a view to defending the security interests of the Alliance. We are increasingly confronted by cyber, hybrid, and other asymmetric threats, including disinformation campaigns, and by the malicious use of ever-more sophisticated emerging and disruptive technologies. Rapid advances in the space domain are affecting our security”.

“The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the erosion of the arms control architecture also undermine our collective security. Climate change is a threat multiplier that impacts Alliance security. The greatest responsibility of the Alliance is to protect and defend our territories and our populations against attack, and we will address all threats and challenges which affect Euro-Atlantic security…”

EU-JAPAN-DJIBOUTI in Gulf of Aden

Brussels 11.05.2021 The EU, Japan and Djibouti carried out a trilateral joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Aden for the first time on May 10. The exercise came after an EU-Japan joint naval exercise and joint port call on Djibouti last October, and after the adoption last month of an EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which called for more such joint activities to promote maritime security in the region. Japan welcomes the Strategy as a sign of the EU’s strong commitment to its engagement in the Indo-Pacific. (Image: illustration).

Based on the scenario of an anti-piracy operation, the 10 May exercise involved EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta flagship, frigate Carabiniere, EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force destroyer Setogiri, and Djibouti Navy and Coast Guard patrol boats. The exercise lasted approximately 20 hours and also included cross-deck helicopter landings, tactical evolutions at sea and a night-time joint patrol.

The EU, Japan and Djibouti remain committed to maintaining the rules-based international order, including through practical maritime cooperation on freedom of navigation and overflight, in order to secure the safety of maritime routes, protect the world’s maritime domain from all traditional and non-traditional threats, and enhance prosperity through peaceful and stable oceans. Together with other partners, the EU, Japan and Djibouti will further contribute to maintaining and strengthening the stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development of the region.

EU defence Strategic Compass

Brussels 10.05.2021 The Council today approved conclusions affirming its determination to move forward on implementing the EU’s security and defence agenda, enabling the EU to take more responsibility for its own security.
In line with its Strategic Agenda 2019-2024, the Council calls for the EU to pursue a more strategic course of action and to increase its capacity to act autonomously. The EU should promote its interests and values and be able to tackle global security threats and challenges.

Against this background, an ambitious and actionable Strategic Compass will enhance and guide the implementation of the level of ambition on security and defence. The Council therefore calls on the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to present a first draft of the Strategic Compass for discussion at the Council meeting in November 2021.

The Council calls for further work to enhance the EU’s capacity to undertake CSDP missions and operations across the whole spectrum of different crisis management tasks. The Council also encourages further reflection on a timely and efficient decision-making process, possibly using Article 44 of the TEU. More work should be done on ways to incentivise member states to improve force generation and provide sufficient means and personnel for CSDP missions and operations.

The conclusions underline the importance of strengthening EU defence initiatives, like Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), and other initiatives such as the Action Plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries, while ensuring coherence in the use of the various tools.

The need to further strengthen the EU’s resilience and ability to counter hybrid threats is also strongly emphasised.

A strong EU in terms of security and defence will bring tangible benefits to transatlantic and global cooperation. The Council reaffirms the centrality of international partnerships with multilateral organisations such as the UN and NATO, in line with the statement of the members of the European Council of 26 February 2021.

NATO condemns Novichok attack on Navalny

The North Atlantic Council met on 4 September 2020 to address the assassination attempt on Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny. Germany briefed Allies on the toxicology findings of their specialist laboratory. “There is proof beyond doubt that Mr. Navalny was poisoned using a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

«…North Atlantic Council has just met to address the appalling assassination attempt on Alexei NavalnyGermany briefed Allies on the findings of their specialist laboratory. There is proof beyond doubt that Mr. Navalny was poisoned using a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group.The use of such a weapon is horrific» Stoltenberg said, addressing press in online conference.
«All Allies today were united in condemning this attack.Any use of chemical weapons shows a total disrespect for human lives, and is an unacceptable breach of international norms and rules. NATO Allies agree that Russia now has serious questions it must answer.

The Russian government must fully cooperate with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on an impartial, international investigation.Those responsible for this attack must be held accountable and brought to justice. We also call on Russia to provide complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the OPCW. Time and again, we have seen opposition leaders and critics of the Russian regime attacked, and their lives threatened. Some have even been killed.
So this is not just an attack on an individual, but on fundamental democratic rights.
And it is a serious breach of international law, which demands an international response.
We wish Mr. Navalny a full and speedy recovery.
Our thoughts are with him and his family.
Allies will continue consultations and consider the implications of this incident.
With that I am ready to take your questions».

AMENDED: Earlier in Berlin Chancellor Angela Merkel made a statement, concerning Alexey Navalny poisoning with Novichok group military chemical agent.

Defence ministers discuss challenges

The European Defence Agency’s (EDA) Steering Board in the composition of Defence Ministers discussed today how to sustain EU capability development in times of disruptive challenges. Defence Ministers pointed to the need for more collaborative projects, efficiency gains and economies of scale as the most effective way of navigating the current crisis while ensuring that Europe’s armed forced are ready for the future.

In addressing an ever more dynamic security environment, including the impact of COVID-19, Ministers underscored the need for even more multinational cooperation in capability planning and development to overcome an unprecedented and diverse set of challenges. Ministers agreed that the EU defence initiatives advanced since 2016 need to be implemented with more decisiveness than ever before. They stressed the importance of delivering on the binding commitments under PESCO, implementing the EU Capability Development priorities, based on a fully-fledged defence review (CARD), and making full use of the European Defence Fund (EDF) as a powerful incentive at the EU level. Ministers also discussed how to better ensure that Europe has highly resilient and responsive armed forces, which are able to prevent, detect and respond to multiple threats and scenarios.

The meeting, held via videoconference, was chaired for the first time by Head of the Agency, Josep Borrell. It was also the first opportunity for recently appointed EDA Chief Executive, Jiří Šedivý, to address the EDA Steering Board comprising the Ministers of Defence of the Agency’s 26 Member States.

Head of the European Defence Agency, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell said: “Whether we are prepared or not to respond to today’s security threats depends on our ability to pull together our resources and act. Today, more than ever, it is crucial to spend better together, rationalise, strengthen our capabilities and deploy effectively to address crises and promote stability. The EU defence initiatives are in place, but to realise their full potential they must be fully integrated into Member States national defence policies and planning processes.”

EDA Chief Executive,Jiří Šedivý, said: “The key priority for European defence will be staying the course and maintaining the EU’s level of ambition on defence, especially now, facing up to unprecedented challenges, including COVID-19. Europe has spent the last few years developing a comprehensive toolbox with the new EU defence initiatives. These tools are now to be put to work to enable deeper cooperation. EDA, as the hub for EU defence cooperation, is there to serve as the preferred platform for Member States defence cooperation”.

EU maintains operational presence

EU Defence Ministers discussed the security and defence implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing in particular on the crucial role played by armed forces in supporting civilian actors and providing cross-border support among member states. In this context the Task Force that was established at the last video conference of Defence Ministers on 6 April has worked closely with member states to ensure the exchange of information and best practices.

EU Ministers of defence on May 12 held a video conference, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell.

Ministers concurred that the EU should continue to do its utmost to maintain the operational presence on the ground of its Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations, while preserving the safety of the personnel deployed.

They also underlined the need to strengthen preparedness and resilience for the future by conducting exercises, strengthening work on cybersecurity and countering hybrid threats including enhancing efforts to counter disinformation.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and UN Under-Secretary General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix provided an update on ongoing work in their organisations. They discussed with ministers defence cooperation in tackling the Covid-19 crisis.

NATO Stoltenberg adresses COVID19 crisis

The alliance’s defence ministers met on April 15 to discuss the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic that has left 1,878,489 infected globally, according to the latest estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) release.

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has been holding a press conference via a secure video link in Brussels Headquarters following an extraordinary meeting of the alliance’s defence ministers.

The ministers discussed measures to cope with the coronavirus pandemic and its long-term ramifications following a slow-down of infection rates in member nations.

Another topic on the agenda concerned coronavirus-related disinformation.

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