Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rasmussen: A Friend to Turkey After All?

NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen is calling for the European Union to allow Turkey administrative arrangements with the European Defense Agency (EDA), a move that would greatly strengthen cooperation between NATO and the EU. Since Cyprus, a non-NATO member, was admitted to the EU in 2004, tensions between the EU and Turkey within NATO have run high as Cyprus has sought to block Turkish membership in European security institutions, among them the EDA. Turkey has long aspired for an EU-Turkey Security Agreement, as well as administrative arrangements in the EDA, both of which Cyprus has said it will oppose until a settlement on Cyprus is reached. From Hurriyet Daily News:
"Why doesn't the EU grant such an arrangement to Turkey?" said Rasmussen, in a pointed demand for Ankara, which provides NATO with one its biggest armed forces, to join the European Defense Agency, or EDA, a mainly research and development arm.

His call, delivered to top policymakers attending a transatlantic security conference in Brussels, was directed squarely at listening EU parliament head Jerzy Buzek.

The former Danish premier, who sparked outrage in the Muslim world over his defence of controversial cartoons lampooning Islam, has actively courted Ankara since before it dropped opposition to his appointment last year at the last minute.

Rasmussen said that Brussels should also conclude a security partnership with Ankara, and involve non-EU countries in decisions affecting its mission to Bosnia.

"Turkey is the second-largest contributor to the EU operation in Bosnia ... but the EU does not provide non-EU contributors with the opportunity to contribute" to policy and decision-making, he said, adding that it was "essential" it does
In 2003, Ankara consented to the Berlin-Plus agreements, which effectively created a framework for the EU to have access to NATO assets in exchange for non-EU members to involve themselves in the EU's European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), now headed up by EU Foreign and Security Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton. Yet, Cyprus' admission to the EU in 2004 and the EU's subsequent inclusion of Cyprus in ESDP planning complicated matters. An especially sore point for Ankara is its lack of say in ESDP planning in ESDP-related missions to which it contributes more resources than some EU member states.

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