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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Luc Frieden at the Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU)

Date of Speech : 13-06-2005

Place : Paris

Speaker : Luc Frieden, ministre de la Défense et de la Justice

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

On 13 June in Paris, Luc Frieden, Minister for Defence, presented the conclusions of the work of the Luxembourg Presidency on the European security and defence policy (ESDP) to the Members of Parliament of the Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU):Mr President,

Members of Parliament,

When I came to the Western European Union (WEU) in November 2004 to introduce the Luxembourg Presidency’s objectives, I made two promises to you: The first was that I would come back at the end of the Presidency to report to you on our Presidency; the second was my commitment to make progress in Europe’s security and defence policy. I have kept my word: Here I am again with you and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) has progressed and has become more concrete.

However, what I did not know in November when I spoke to you was that I would be back again at a time when Europe is going through a major crisis after the peoples of France and the Netherlands rejected the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, a treaty which I defended primarily because of its advances in security policy.

It is without any doubt difficult to draw conclusions from the many and often contradictory messages that our fellow citizens are sending us in this debate over Europe. The economic difficulties, the decrease in the European spirit of solidarity, notably financial, the rejection of a past and future enlargement of Europe, deemed too fast by our fellow citizens, and a refusal to have Europe deal with too many details in a too bureaucratic or liberal manner, are some of the concerns that have been expressed on the occasion of these popular consultations.

To ignore these messages, to continue to act as though nothing is wrong, would in my opinion be the wrong way to act at this time, since no major project can be carried out without popular and democratic support. But, and I say this emphatically, it would also be absolutely wrong to abandon the great European project in the face of the difficulties of the moment. The major challenges and the objectives that the European construction is trying to adress – peace, freedom, security and prosperity – should be brought back to the forefront of our debates. Today, we must make more effort to explain, communicate and have a dialogue on Europe with our fellow citizens, and this debate must transcend the mere discourse on the constitutional treaty. Based on the messages received, we must most certainly also review certain policies and the rythm of adopting some of our political actions in Europe. To communicate, to listen, we need time, energy and commitment.  Mr President,

For sixty years the building of Europe has ensured peace and stability on our continent. This situation has made it possible for Europe to be born again out of the ashes and to build an area of prosperity and well-being with a unique social model. Today, the cold war is over and the fundamental European values have gained ground. But these fundamental values are not guaranteed to last forever. The successive wars in the former Yugoslavia, terrorist attacks and other regional conflicts remind us of this every day.

I said it in November and I will repeat it today: Internal and external security are closely linked. The risks and dangers to which our continent is exposed do not stop at the Union’s borders; regional conflicts and crises, even in distant lands, have a direct, decisive and substantial influence on our security and on our well-being. What is happening in the Balkans, the Middle East, in Africa or elsewhere has repercussions and consequences for our internal security and our stability. Peace and stability throughout the world are necessary for a safe and prosperous Europe.        

The world has become "global," both in terms of politics and security. And the world continues to be unstable. Terrorism has not been eradicated, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has not been confined, and regional crises and conflicts continue to spread. Today, no Member State of the Union can meet these challenges alone. No Member State of the Union can, all by itsself, confront these threats and dangers alone.Therefore, there must necessarily be a joint response in which Europe has an essential role to play together with its partners.

That is why during our Presidency I have been placing considerable emphasis on the implementation of European defence policy operations in the field. The ESDP must not exist solely on paper. It must change and improve people’s lives. Europe must not make war. Europe must act to prevent wars or to stop them. Hence the emphasis we place on the concept of crisis management in all its dimensions.

To illustrate what I just said, I would like to present an overview of the European Union’s operations under the Luxembourg Presidency. The action of the ALTHEA operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina is contributing to achieving the European Union’s long-term objective: the advancement of a stable, peaceful and multi-ethnic Bosnia-Herzegovina. The ALTHEA operation proved its effectiveness in the first six months of 2005. ALTHEA is a success for Europe, for the ESDP and for Bosnia. It supported the implementation plan of the United Nations High Representative, including organised crime control and the stabilisation and association process. Internal and external security go together, and Bosnia-Herzegovina is a perfect example. A destabilised Bosnia-Herzegovina is not in our interest, because it would export its problems and difficulties to neighbouring countries and to the European Union.  

The ALTHEA operation demonstrated that the European Union and NATO are cooperating in an exemplary manner and are developing constructive synergies to manage international crises. Also allow me to express, in this context, our thanks to the countries that are not members of the European Union that took part in these operations.

Europe must help manage regional crises. We have a special responsibility in this respect in assisting with building the future of the Balkan countries. Our military, police and especially our diplomatic assistance, are crucial for a long-lasting stabilisation of these countries which are part of the European continent where so many unfortunate events have taken place over the past fifteen years.

But we must also look beyond Europe’s borders and to Africa in particular.

In regards to Sudan, including Darfur, the Union will provide all the support possible to the military, police, and civilian efforts in response to the African Union’s request. To help Sudan, the Union and NATO are working hand-in-hand. I have been heavily involved to make certain that there is no competition between the two organisations, as many of our Member States are part of both the international structures. That would in fact be ridiculous; what counts most of all is to help, to help the people who are suffering, to build stability in a highly complicated context. Toward this end, the EU and NATO have put an exemplary cooperation in place, highlighting the added value of each organisation. NATO-EU cooperation, in different forms in Bosnia and in Darfur, is a success and reflects our Presidency’s line of conduct that I presented to you right here in November.

We will also be active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Last week the Union decided to launch a counselling and assistance mission to reform the security sector in the DRC. In close cooperation and coordination with the other players of the international community, this mission aims to provide concrete support to the appropriate DRC authorities in the area of security in their effort to integrate the army, whilst promoting policies consistent with human rights, democratic standards and the Rule of Law. This mission, which is the first of its kind, is a concrete example of implementing the action plan for the support provided in the ESDP context to peace and security in Africa. It complements the EUPOL Kinshasa police mission to bolster the efforts that the Commission and the Member States are already making in the area of reforming the security sector in the DRC. 

These three operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the Congo and soon in Sudan, are the concrete expression of the Union’s willingness to act. To act to foster peace and stability, to act to contribute to conflict prevention and resolution. The European Union intends to act as a global player; to do so, it must continue to strengthen its political and diplomatic system and it must continue to develop the ESDP with more capabilities, greater coherence, and more partnership. The Luxembourg Presidency has worked in this direction. We have made progress and I am satisfied with it, even if there has been no shortage of problems, and the diversity of views in a Europe of 25 does not facilitate progress in an area in which unanimity is the rule.

The common foreign policy bases its authority on the existence of credible means. That is why the Luxembourg Presidency has gone to great lengths to strengthen the operational capabilities, both military and civilian, of the ESDP, and to implement a strategy to fill the gaps. To deal with the challenges and to be in a position to contribute to the management of crises in the future, we have continued and strengthened the process of developing medium- and long-term capabilities.

I am very satisfied to see that the European Union will soon have a rapid response capability, based on thirteen national or multinational tactical units. Beginning in January 2007, the European Union plans to have full capabilities to undertake two rapid reaction operations concomitantly, involving a tactical unit, including the capability of being able to launch these two operations almost simultaneously. 

But, to be able to respond quickly, it is necessary to accelerate the European and national decision-making and planning processes for the European Union’s rapid reaction operations. At the European level, under our Presidency, we have just put in place rules to ensure that the decision-making process can be carried out within five days of the approval of the crisis management concept by the Council and the decision to launch an operation. At the national level, the Member States have committed to revising their procedures to be able to respond to the Union’s request in the shortest amount of time possible. We must find rapid mechanisms while obviously maintaining prior national parliamentary control where it is required.

We have also made progress in the establishment of the European Defence Agency. We must encourage the Agency to continue implementing its work programme.

I also place great emphasis on civilian instruments to mange crises. Building civilian capabilities is an essential improvement for the Union’s integrated approach. Preventing crises also requires strengthening the Rule of Law. The EUJUST Themis Project in Georgia, which I visited during our Presidency, seems to me in this respect to be a worthwhile and useful project that may serve as an example elsewhere.Members of Parliament,

European action cannot be isolated. Europe must react on the basis of solidarity with its allies, especially in the strategic partnership that links the Union with the United States of America. Transatlantic relations are much more than a mere alliance of interests. They connect a community of States that adhere to common fundamental values, ideals and interests. Europe and North America share their history and their culture. A strong, democratic and prosperous Europe is a guarantee of security for the United States. In an interdependent world and in the face of new threats, our actions for stability, democracy and freedom must be coordinated and complementary. Under the Luxembourg Presidency, we have improved the nature of transatlantic relations significantly, especially in matters of internal security and defence. My meetings in Washington and Brussels with the U.S. secretaries of defence, homeland security and justice have contributed to making our cooperation stronger.

In the security dialogue, we have also ensured that we continue the essential cooperation with Russia. Confronted with international crises, international crime and terrorism, enhanced cooperation is the only way to lead us to success.

The Luxembourg Presidency has placed special emphasis on the fight against international terrorism and has constantly overseen the coordination of the Union’s external security policy with the policies carried out in the areas of Justice and Home Affairs. The fact that I wear two hats – Minister of Defence and Minister of Justice – has helped me achieve this goal.

I also note with satisfaction that during the Luxembourg Presidency, the Union has prepared a generic document, a code of conduct applicable to all categories of personnel involved in ESDP operations, both military and civilian. This is essential to ensure that our soldiers in the field, who perform difficult missions, are representatives who are worthy of our continent and our values in the world.  Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I already observed in November that there is very broad agreement between the policy guidelines I just mentioned and those stated by your Assembly. Your work has contributed significantly to model the Europe of security and defence. This new dimension of building Europe that is required due to the terrorist threat, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the prevention and management of regional crises, must be supported in parliamentary democracy by public opinion convinced that doing so is necessary. The French and Dutch votes reminded us of that, where this was necessary.

Contrary to what I sometimes hear, the new constitutional treaty is not causing a militarization of Europe. We all have armies. But it will be more efficient and less costly to work together. That is our objective. And it is necessary to have reformed armed forces who can respond quickly in an environment which, over the past ten years, has changed from top to bottom. Because the idea is to prevent wars or stop conflicts, to defend the fundamental values we believe in and to ensure stability. We must reject the egotism of only dealing with what is happening in our own immediate vicinity, this is even dangerous in an interdependent world.

This is also your debate. I wish to applaud here the determination with which you have always contributed to promoting European security and defence. The Assembly and its members of parliament are a special link between policy and the public. And so we must be involved together to communicate better, to do a better job of getting the message across that Europe is and will continue to be an essential instrument for peace, stability, freedom and prosperity, and a model of economic and social development. Our common commitment for stability and security, as guarantors of peace and freedom, mainly through a credible European defence policy, has made a trip to your Assembly worthwhile, I believe, at the end of the Luxembourg Presidency.

Thank you.

This page was last modified on : 15-06-2005

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