Sunday, February 8, 2009

NATO chief admits failure in drawing EU closer

by Valentina Pop
January 27, 2009

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Outgoing NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said he regrets not having been able to bring the military alliance and the EU closer together.
"I'm sad that at the end of my mandate as secretary general I have not been able to bring this relationship more forward than on a pragmatic basis. I hope that after the end of July my successor, NATO and the EU will have a fresh look and see how we can bring the parties together," Mr Scheffer said on Monday (26 January).
In his first public appearance since the Obama administration took office in Washington last week, Mr Scheffer gave a speech and answered questions at Security and Defence Agenda, a Brussels-based think-tank.

He mentioned Kosovo, where NATO and the EU work "side by side", but also highlighted "political reasons" for the difficult transatlantic relationship, as most European countries are part of both organisations.

The double membership means there are limited resources for sending troops to different EU and NATO missions. [...]
Mr Scheffer said Europeans should not expect President Barack Obama to wave a "magic wand" over the world's problems and underlined that Washington needed Europe to step up its burden sharing, especially in NATO's main theatre of operation – Afghanistan.

"If Europeans expect that the United States will close Guantanamo, sign up to climate change treaties, accept EU leadership on key issues, but provide nothing more than encouragement, for example in Afghanistan – then they should think again," the NATO secretary-general warned.
For the first time, Mr Scheffer mentioned Iran as part of a regional solution to Afghanistan's problems, echoing the change in Washington, where Mr Obama has pledged to involve his country in direct diplomacy with Tehran if certain conditions are met.
The full article is here

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