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NATO, European Union Look Toward Furthering Cooperation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2000 – NATO and the European Union are going to have to work closely together, but "NATO remains the indispensable anchor for European security," said Frank Kramer.

Kramer, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, spoke to reporters about working out procedures that will allow NATO and any future European force to work together. His presentation followed Defense Secretary William S. Cohen's Oct. 10 discussion on the subject with NATO country defense ministers in Birmingham, England.

The European Union is composed of Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and 11 NATO members -- Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom. They banded together originally for economic reasons. In fact, the Euro -- the new money system on the continent -- is a result of this effort. The EU is looking at a security aspect of the union and under former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana is working with the North Atlantic Alliance to make this a reality.

Cohen wants a "more positive" look at the NATO-EU discussions. He wants to build on the proposals the United States has made since 1995 during discussions in Berlin. A European Security and Defense Program is based on the three "I's." It must bring an improvement in capabilities, it must be inclusive of all allies, and it must reaffirm the indivisibility of allied security.

The way to improve NATO-EU planning and defense capabilities was at the heart of Cohen's presentation in Birmingham.

Kramer said it is "hard to imagine any real scenario with a significant use of force in which the United States would not be involved or where the allies wouldn't want us involved." Still, the EU wants to have the ability to put out fires in its own backyard, and the United States welcomes that idea, he said.

"So what we have undertaken to do is to ensure that NATO and the EU work closely together," he said. This means the two organizations must set common priorities and common planning procedures, he said, and it also means common forces.

The 11 NATO members in the European Union are not going to build separate sets of forces to serve the EU, he said, so planning for an EU force must be tied to NATO. The EU and NATO should not develop separate planning processes. Rather, Kramer said, plans must be interchangeable and should be made in a way that NATO members who aren't in the European Union can have a say in how their resources are used.

In turn, he noted, EU countries not in NATO can get their concerns before the Atlantic Alliance.

NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative also figures prominently in the relationship. The DCI seeks to improve NATO's capability in strategic airlift; precision-guided munitions; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems. Anything EU countries do to their military forces must work with NATO's and must further NATO's capabilities.

Kramer said much of the framework for how the two entities will work together is complete. "We have, so to speak, a handshake deal, and it's got to be put into lawyer form," he said. He expects most of the work to be finished by December.

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