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23 iulie 2019 - Special reports - NATO - UE

NATO-EU Political and military events /June

Monitorul Apărării şi Securităţii

• Turkey – US – NATO relations • A new director general of the European Union Military Staff was appointed • Climate change – a priority for the EU 2020 budget • The EU Council, concerned with security challenges in the Black Sea • The first meeting in the Boxer 8x8 support partnership• NATO allots funds for the long-term evolution of Eurofighter Typhoon

Sursă foto: Mediafax


Turkey – US – NATO relations

Relations between Turkey and the US have suffered following Ankara’s decision to buy S-400 anti-missile systems produced by Russia. The question is how will this decision affect Turkey’s relation with NATO, as a member for 67 years.

Recently, Turkey’s permanent representative at NATO, Basat Ozturk, said the following: “S-400 is not NATO’s problem, it is a bilateral problem between the US and Turkey. Including NATO in this problem is a huge error which would significantly hurt the Alliance’s cohesion.”

At the same time, there are voices in Washington which have been requesting for more than one year to exclude Turkey from NATO, as it is in the process of developing military relations with Russia.

Looking at the problem from the perspective of recent history, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offers the US and its NATO partners regular reasons to end their alliance with Turkey.

Firstly, Turkey has a deep involvement in a negotiation format with Russia and Iran, in order to manage the conflict in Syria, created without US, NATO or EU involvement. In this problem, Turkey has opposing stances to her allies in NATO regarding evolutions in the region, and Erdogan is entirely against YPG (Kurdish militias), but also against the support the latter receive from the US to fight against ISIS. The regime in Ankara considers that YPG has ties with pro-Kurdish political parties in Turkey and the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

Secondly, Erdogan insisted for the US to deliver F-35 aircrafts to Turkey, while they are currently negotiating the purchase of S-400 system from Russia.

Thirdly, although relations with Iran are not the best, Erdogan is trying to develop them at the expense of relations with Saudi Arabia and its partners in the Gulf, in contradiction with the stances of the US and its NATO allies.

And fourthly, Erdogan involved himself in the crisis in Venezuela, by supporting President Nicolas Maduro alongside Russia, China, Bolivia and Cuba, despite the fact that Turkey does not have national interests in this country, opting to take yet another stance opposite to the one most NATO and EU member states expressed.

Nationally, Erdogan is in contradiction with the values and policies of his NATO allies through his authoritarianism and attempts to control the political opposition, the justice system and the media.

The results of local elections on March 31, 2019, offer another reason to make a clear distinction between Turkey and Erdogan, despite the latter’s attempts to become identified with the Turkish state. Therefore, the US and NATO should avoid – at least temporarily – deeming Turkey as an “uncomfortable” ally or even an adversary.

Turkey’s elimination from NATO would not be suitable for the Alliance. Turkey has been a loyal and trustful member ever since NATO was established, maintaining NATO’s second-largest army after the US. Turkey occupies a key geostrategic position in the North-eastern Mediterranean, especially with regards to the control of the Straits of Bosporus and the Dardanelles, therefore controlling naval access to the Black Sea.

Of course, if Erdogan’s trajectory is supported by Turkey and the country continues to grow apart from NATO’s political and military values, only then could its status as member be contested. Even in these conditions, an eventual exclusion of Turkey from NATO should come following a thorough analysis, and only if there is no other option. This course of action would serve on a longer term both to the US and its European allies within NATO. Turkey will continue to be a valorous NATO member if it opts to promote its values and policies in an appropriate manner. The recent local elections, as well as the lesson in democracy offered by Istanbul at last Sunday’s vote, offered an opportunity to interrupt Turkey’s current course of action and to interrupt the spiral of descending relations between the US and Turkey, and between Turkey and its NATO partners.


A new director general of the European Union Military Staff (EUMS) was appointed

French Vice-Admiral Herve Blejean was appointed as director general of the EU’s Military Staff. Currently, Vice-Admiral Blejean is a deputy of the MARCOM commander (the Allied Naval Command, Northwood, Great Britain) and will replace Finnish Gen. Esa Pulkkinen in office, starting with May 2020.

Vice-Admiral Herve Blejean was born on December 11, 1963, in Toulon, France. In 2000, he finished studies at the Paris Institute for Higher National Defence Studies. In 2002, he took over command of the “Vendemiaire” frigate, at the helm of which he took part in Operation Enduring Freedom. Between 2003 and 2007 he occupied several offices within the French armed forces’ Naval Command and the Joint Operations Center. In 2007, he took over command of the naval group of the helicopter carrier “Jeanne D’arc”, taking part in Operation Thalatine against Somali pirates. In 2009, after he finished advanced military studies, Vice-Admiral Blejean was appointed as deputy chief of the French prime minister’s military office. In September 2013, he was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral and appointed as a deputy for the French naval forces commander (FRMARFOR). At the same time, he was given the leadership of the CTF 150 multinational maritime group, which was involved in operations along the shore of Somalia, to later also be granted command of the EU’s naval group in the anti-piracy Operation Atalanta. In 2014, Vice-Admiral Blejean was appointed deputy to the French naval forces commander, in charge of international engagements. Between June 2015 and March 2016, he had the office of deputy of the chief of operations of the NATO Joint Naval Command in Napoli. Starting with July 1, 2017, Vice-Admiral Blejean in a deputy of the MARCOM commander.

Vice-Admiral Blejean will be second French officer to hold this office, created in 2001. The EUMS is responsible with early warning, situation assessment, strategic planning and ensuring communications for missions carried out by the EU. EUMS also contributes to defining the European military needs in regards to capabilities and materials. EUMS is under the direct authority of High Representative/ Vice-President (HRVP) Federica Mogherini, who leads the EU’s External Action Service and presides the Foreign Affairs Council.

Climate change – a priority for the EU 2020 budget

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday (June 5) a budget worth approximately EUR168.3 billion for 2020, bigger with 1.3% than in this year. This is the last budget for the 2014-2020 fiscal period and puts climate change at the top of the agenda. Half of the budget proposed by the Commission is destined for stimulating economic growth, supporting regional development and programs for the youth.

The budget is based on the perspective that the United Kingdom will continue to participate in its financing and appliance, even if it will leave the EU after October 31. In regards to the payments, the budget will reach EUR153.7 billion, representing 3.5% over 2019 numbers.

EUR83 billion will be allotted to stimulate economic growth and support the youth, through instruments such as the “Horizon 2020”, “Erasmus+” research and innovation programs. The “Horizon 2020” program will benefit from a budget of EUR13.2 billion, which represents a 6.4% increase since 2019.

21% of the total proposed budget will be destined to fighting climate change. “This is consistent with the ambitious objective of spending 20% of the current long-term EU budget for activities combatting climate change,” states the European Commission.

The global Galileo satellite navigation system will receive a 75% higher budget compared to 2019, reaching a total of EUR1.2 billion. The European Industrial Defence Development Project will receive EUR255 million.

In regards to strengthening security and solidarity in the EU and abroad, Frontex will have a budget of EUR420.4 million, 34% higher than in 2019. This budget follows an agreement reached in March 2019 by the European Parliament and the governments of EU member states on the establishing a permanent force of 10,000 border police officers until 2027.

The new “rescEU” program will receive EUR156.2 million to contribute to a more efficient management of earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters.

At the same time, the budget includes humanitarian aid worth EUR560 million to support individuals affected by the war in Syria.

The EU budget must be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council. Simultaneously with negotiations for the 2020 budget, the member states and the new MEPs will also negotiate the EU’s long-term budget, meaning the plan for its future 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework.

The EU Council, concerned with security challenges in the Black Sea

In a common statement of the European Council adopted on Monday, June 17, in Luxembourg, the foreign ministers of the 28 EU member states expressed their concern on the security situation at the Black Sea, and also confirmed their policy of not recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

“The council continues to be concerned with security challenges in the Black Sea are and, in this context, reiterates that respecting international law, including the principles of territorial independence, sovereignty and integrity, the UN Convention on right at sea, including the freedom of navigation, as well as the EU’s political decisions and its policy to not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea are fundamental for the EU’s approach to regional cooperation in the Black Sea,” reads the statement.

The Council highlighted the “growing strategical importance that the Black Sea area has for the EU”, requiring member states to be “more involved in regional cooperation”. The document outlines the importance of capitalizing on the new opportunities for economic development, resilience and connectivity in the region and outside it.

The document also specifies that “strengthened regional cooperation at the Black Sea would contribute to implementing the EU Strategy for connecting Europe and Asia through four priority areas: transport, energy, digital space and people”. The council also highlights the importance of drafting a communications plan meant to support the EU’s contribution to regional cooperation in the Black Sea area, but also to increase the visibility of the EU’s and its member states’ activities.

The subject of security in the Black Sea was discussed at several levels in the EU, after the November 25, 2018 incidents when three Ukrainian war ships were detained, and 24 Ukrainian sailors were arrested on charges of violating Russia’s borders.

At the same time, the level of commercial exchanges between countries in Central Asia and Europe has grown at a modest rate since 2007, when the EU launched its first strategy for the five post-Soviet republics. From 2007 until 2018, turnover grew from USD31.5 billion to USD36.5 billion, according to IMF data. Of course, the EU remains an important economic partner for Central Asian countries, both in trade and as an investor. But when we compare the dimension of the EU’s economy with those of Russia or China, the EU’s plans for Central Asia seem timid, and the EU seems ready to give up before the competition. In the new EU strategy on Central Asia, launched on May 15, 2019, the EU’s ambitions are even lower than in 2007. At the same time, China is massively investing in its transports and energy infrastructure (the “Belt and Road Initiative”) and eclipses the EU in becoming the region’s biggest trade partner.


The first meeting in the Boxer 8x8 support partnership

The support partnership for the Boxer 8x8 armoured vehicle, organized within the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) recently had its first meeting.

Initially founded in 2013 within the Partnership for fighter vehicles, the current support partnership for Boxer 8x8s became independent in 2018. Within this partnership, member states receive support both in the system’s conceptual phase, as well as while this vehicle will be exploited.

There are currently more than 500 Boxer 8x8 vehicles in use by the partnership’s three member states – Germany, the Netherlands and Lithuania. Another 2,000 vehicles will be added to those already in use, as the three states aim to extend their fleets. At the same time, other states are expected to join the partnership. In addition to providing exploitation support for Germany and the Netherlands, NSPA manages central and national stocks for these war vehicles and make brokering activities for the partnership’s member states.

The partnership’s next meeting is scheduled for September 2019.

NATO allots funds for the long-term evolution of Eurofighter Typhoon

The states and companies behind the European fighter jet Eurofighter Typhoon have agreed to spend EUR53.7 million to study the long-term evolution of these aircrafts and their engines. The Eurofighter consortium includes Airbus, BAE Systems from the UK and Leonardo from Italy.

The studies will be made over 19 months for the aircraft and nine months for the engine, and they will have to identify potential technological upgrades which can be brought to the engine, the electronic fighting equipment, the pilot-aircraft interface and any other cockpit equipment. The study’s results will highlight the manners through which the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet will be maintained operational for several decades, even if there is work being done in Europe currently at building two new-generation aircrafts, which would be deployed around 2040. Airbus and France’s Dassault Aviation started work at a new fighter jet, with the project being financed between Germany, France and Spain. At the same time, BAE Systems and Leonardo are working on rival project with the codename “Tempest”.

Italian General Gabriele Salvestroni, the general director of NATO’s Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA), said that “the study marks a new chapter in the history of fighting jets”. The general added that “the study will set a clear whitepaper for the platform’s future, which will make resilient and relevant for several decades”.

The Eurofighter Typhoon fleet currently numbers than 530,000 flight hours.

Translated by Ionut Preda