A European Army??

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Last Tuesday I attended the Alliance Francaise de Cork/UCC European Symposium. In the afternoon we split into round-tables. I went along to the round-table entitled “The Question of the European Army”. This round-table was led by Quentin Perret of Atelier Europe, Nevin Power and Frank O’Callaghan.

Quentin seemed to be on his own on the Pro-Army side. He based his arguments around four points.

  1. Security
  2. Influence
  3. Military Division
  4. Efficiencies from Commonalities

On the other hand the Irish in attendance were very much opposed to the idea of an European Union. The arguments weren’t as easily grouped as we weren’t the ones guiding the discussion, but they centred around the following ideas

  1. Neutrality
  2. Language
  3. Agreement at EU Level
  4. lack of need for hard power

It was quite an interesting discussion. I think in Ireland we do need to discuss this more. We seem to have a “lalala – fingers in ears” reaction to any discussion about a European Army. I know I found it hard to discuss myself.

Towards the end of the discussions we found two scenarios when a European Army is possible. The appearance of another. For example, if Russia became belligerent against the EU member states,  or if the United States decided to withdraw from supporting European security. Then there will be a big hole in European defence structures and a lack of ways of European Armies to be deployed around the world. (NATO is heavily dependent on US Military might). I think it is highly probably in either of those cases that a European Army will be on table.

One thing that Quentin said though is true, if Europe is to become a European Federation (United States of Europe) then it will certainly need some sort of army. That is true of any state.

Ireland has a strange relationship with military power. As a small country we bat way above our weight without having to resort to use military force, or the threat of such force.

I think we need to start really talking about a European Army in Ireland so we can be properly aware of when it is acceptable to us that an army is created. It should not be a discussion that should be led down the road of conscription and the loss of the triple lock etc, they will still be our Governments choice. As long as the Common Foreign and Security Policy is an area where unanimity is needed then there will be no European Army, but what will Ireland’s relationship with an Army set up under the enhanced co-operation procedure be?

This is a big and complicated issue and one there needs to be civilised public discourse on. Will it happen? I doubt.

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Kosovo declares itself independent as an EU Colony

Today the Kosovar Assembly voted unamimously for Independence from Serbia. What does this actually mean for the province is something else entirely. Independence here is entirely symbolic as the EU will be running the Administration, the Courts and the Police Service, with NATO being the Army. Not exactly an “Free, independent and sovereign state”?

Pristina will be able to pass laws and sign treaties but will depend on EU Officals to implement them. The EU mission, when it is up and running, will have sweeping executive powers. It will have the right to veto the elected government if it deviates from the Brussels-approved reform path. It will have the power to intervene directly in Kosovo’s internal affairs.

The EU of course are playing these powers down. Saying they will be seldom used, or are for emergencies only. Kosovo can be expected to be ruled like Germany and Japan after World War II for at about five to eight years.

Kosovo will be the EU’s first time being an exporter of democratic principles. The EU has of course helped countries in tranisition from Dictatorships (Greece, Portugal, Spain) and from Communism (Estonia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Poland). Kosovo is different as it is it defiance of international law. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 which in the preambulatory clauses states “Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act and annex 2”

This leaves Russia in a strong poistion in the UN. It can veto any application by Kosovo to join the UN, it can also block changes to Reslution 1244. Conversely France, the UK and the US can block Russian moves to have the UNSC declare the move illegal. So its stale mate at the UN.

Serbia, immediately disregard the´declaration saying it will not recognise a ‘false state’ which would be a “satellite state known as Kosovo”. Serbia of course has ruled out the use of force, but will use ddiplomatic means to try and bring Kosovo back in.

Serbia remains the main trading partner of Kosovo so if Serbia brings in sanctions then Kosovo could be worse off.

Only time will tell if Kosovo will end up a “Free, independent and sovereign state” or just a failed state.

The Future of NATO?

NATO is at a crossroads. Since the end of the cold war NATO has been trying to reinvent itself to give it meaning in the 21st century. Since 1990 NATO has re written its strategic concept twice as the 90’s has seen NATO only beeing involved in the European Area. But since the rewtrite of their strategic concept in 1999 more reference of ‘out of area’ activities have taken place.

A major problem for NATO is over dependence on US military resources. The European Pillar of NATO did have the resources it self to launch of the majority of the sorties against Yugoslavia during the Kosovo conflict. Programs to help the European pillar of NATO have not bourne many fruits as investment in defence by Canada and the European Allies is pitiful compared to amount invested by the USA. NATO cannot function in this way. Parity between the allies is needed.

NATO-led missions have also proven to been succesful, SFOR, KFOR and IFOR are all successful opperations. The Partnership for Peace has allowed non-alligned countries to train with NATO armies so that there troops may be successfully integrated on UN missions and NATO led peace-keeping missions.

Enlargement is also a major issue for NATO. The number of memebers have sweelled recently but the accession of certain states will cause a massive headache for NATO in its relations with Russia. The Ukraine which has long wanted memebership of NATO and the EU is major woory here just like when the Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania applied.

In my opinion theres needs to be a major think in at NATO headquaters to see how things can be improved. As things stand the US is spread thinly on the ground and it is impossible for NATO to launch any new operation within Europe or ‘out of area’. NATO needs to address the following:

  • Investment parity
  • Interoperability
  • Enlargement
  • Over dependence on the US military
  • Then and only then can NATO assume the role it can and will play