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Democrat March-April 2014 (Number 140)

EU sends Battle Group
to Africa

In his opening statement to the Munich Security Conference, a yearly meeting of European and US security chiefs, on 1 February, the president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, after expressing his full sympathy and support for the Ukrainian demonstrators, stated: "Some people think Europeans are naïve, that we prefer carrots over sticks. Now, I am not saying that we cannot sometimes play our hand more strongly.

"I know the EU is sometimes looked at as somewhat of a Florence Nightingale—but we do not just send nurses and nutritionists, we also send judges and policemen, soldiers and marines. In fact we just decided to send in principle around 600 troops to Bangui (Central African Republic). They will work side by side with those of France …"

This would be the first time since their creation in 2007 that a military unit of the EU Battle Group would be deployed under direct command of the Council of the EU, and it is an ominous development. "We clearly prefer diplomatic solutions," van Rompuy threatened, "but our countries are ready to use military force when necessary."

In his invitation to the EU Council meeting of 19–20 December, van Rompuy announced to the heads of state and government: "Before our first working session, the NATO secretary-general will share some thoughts with us ahead of the thematic debate that we will have on defence policy. I should indeed like us to have a strategic discussion on one of the major current challenges in the field of defence: what should we be doing, as Union and as EU Member States, to retain and develop the capabilities that are critical for our defence and our security, and how can we encourage more co-operation to reach this goal. After the discussion, we will adopt the corresponding part of the conclusions …

"Starting this year, Europeans will be launching new joint defence programmes, for cutting-edge drones, satellite communication, cyber defence and air-to-air refuelling, emphasising that it was the start of a process. All these tools," he said, "are at the service of Europe's interests and security."

(Based on report in Peoples' Movement of Ireland Digest)