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General Affairs/External Relations Council and Defence Ministers: Statement by Greek Defence Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, 19/5/2003

Papantoniou and Solana
Following the meeting of EU defence ministers in Brussels, at which the issue of European capabilities was discussed, Greece’s Defence Minister Yiannos Papantoniou made the following statement:

“Today, is a great day, an historic day for the European Union and the Greek Presidency. One of the main goals of the Greek Presidency, the creation of a ‘Euroarmy’ has now been achieved. All 25 EU defence ministers today agreed that this goal has indeed been attained. The 60,000-strong European Rapid Reaction Force is now a reality, completely prepared and operationally capable of undertaking tasks across the entire spectrum of missions assigned to it. We have already been operating for the past 2 months in Skopje, capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and we are ready to undertake any mission which may be assigned to us in the coming months. This has been a great success of the Greek Presidency. In a very short space of time, we have made up for significant delays in respect of weapons systems and urged all countries to undertake the commitment to provide the weapons systems necessary for the operation of the ‘Euroarmy’. We reached political agreement with NATO, which has clarified relations and ensured EU autonomy vis-à-vis the Alliance. At the same time, we gave the ‘green light’ and made the necessary preparations for deploying this force in Skopje, which constitutes the first actual operation of the ‘Euroarmy’.

Furthermore, EU High Representative for CFSP Javier Solana, the 25 EU ambassadors and myself today agreed to travel to Skopje on 5 June in order to inspect the first European soldiers. All this has been achieved by the Greek Presidency. This has been acknowledged by all. And I believe that this paves the way for a successful European Council in Thessaloniki on 19-20 June.”

 


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