|Vol.7, No.37, 11.10.01, p3
Several applicant states are expressing unease over how a deal reached at last week's EU-Russia summit could lead to Moscow having a greater role in developing the Union's security policy.
To the delight of President Vladimir Putin, the EU delegation accepted his request that Russia would have monthly meetings with the Union's political and security committee (COPS), headed by foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
The EU, also represented by Commission President Romano Prodi and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, took the move because it was eager that Putin should play an active role in the international coalition against terrorism.
Under existing rules, however, non-EU European members of NATO are only consulted about COPS - a key body in the Union's constantly evolving security and defence structure - four times per year. Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Turkey are the states bidding for EU membership which fall into that category.
Warsaw is arguing that it should have at least the same right to information as Moscow. "We are dissatisfied," remarked one Polish diplomat. "We just hope that what happened with Russia is a signal that our contacts can be strengthened and intensified."
Prague's ambassador to Brussels, Libor Secka, said his government will formulate a policy on enhancing its relations with COPS in the near future. It would be premature to say if tensions could arise between the Czech Republic and the EU over the preferential treatment granted to Russia, he added.
Turkey's EU ambassador, Nihat Akyol, said he expected the EU to now ensure that Ankara was also consulted more frequently on security policy. "We are allies [of most EU states] so it is a totally different situation for us [than for Russia]," he added.
The head of Hungary's EU mission, Zsolt Becsey, said that Budapest had not yet decided how it would respond to the new accord with Russia. "This is not a question on which we should react very quickly," he said. "Of course, we will think it over."
Solana told European Voice he had not heard any complaints from the candidate states about the new Russia consultation deal. "They have regular consultation as members of NATO - we have a regular mechanism which is much more stable [than the Putin accord]," he said.
A meeting between COPS and Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Turkey was held last month. The Belgian presidency has not set a date for the next consultation but it is expected that it will take place before the 'capabilities' conference, scheduled for 20 November. Its aim is to assess progress made in equipping the 60,000-strong EU rapid reaction force.
Several applicant states are expressing unease over how a deal reached at the recent EU-Russia summit could lead to Moscow having a greater role in developing the Union's security policy.
|Security and Defence
|Countries / Regions