NATO chief calls for closer EU ties | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 07, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 07, 2008

NATO chief calls for closer EU ties

NATO and the European Union need to support each other's operations with greater pooling of their capabilities, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told a June 3 gathering of officials in Brussels at an event sponsored by the Security and Defence Agenda think tank.
Called "NATO in the Next Decade," the conference also featured a discussion of Russian-NATO relations.
NATO and the EU especially need to pool transport and helicopters, cooperate on research and development efforts, and harmonize force structures and training methods, De Hoop Scheffer said.
Warning that both organizations will suffer "if we cannot bring them closer together," the NATO leader said he would like to see the North Atlantic Council and the EU's Political Security Committee meet more often to share analyses on the world's crisis areas.
Noting that many countries had pooled resources to fund a C-17 for strategic airlift, De Hoop Scheffer said he would like to see the same done for the A400M. He also cited the U.K.-French initiative to upgrade helicopters and train pilots as a good example of common funding. The longstanding method of financing, which says "costs lie where they fall," will not survive the next decade, he said.
De Hoop Scheffer also said there were issues where NATO and Russia did not "see eye to eye," such as Kosovo and Russia's decision to suspend its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.
He said Russia's decision to send soldiers into Abkhazia in Georgia was "not helpful."
But he stressed that it was important to engage with Russia because "I cannot see how NATO can do without Russia or how Russia can do without NATO."
Meanwhile, Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's ambassador to NATO, said cooperation between Russia and NATO works better at the military level than at the political or diplomatic level, and that Russia would be strengthening its military cooperation in Afghanistan.
Also, a political agreement was reached between Russia and the European Union in April under which Russia has offered helicopters for the EU's peacekeeping mission in Chad. The Chad mission was agreed by EU foreign ministers in January and is under way.
But Rogozin criticized what he termed NATO's dogmas, including on missile defence.
"We are told that we should not fear plans to install missile defences in Poland and the Czech Republic as it is directed at the bad guys in Iran," he said. Perhaps this reflects "a compass problem here," as Iran is to the south and Poland is closer to the Baltics. Similarly, he asked why, if NATO thinks that all its threats are from the south, it is enlarging to the east.

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