|Updated: 19-Mar-2003||March 2003|
NATO-EU cooperation taken to a new level
The formal hand-over of NATO's mission in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) to the EU will take place on 31 March, when Operation Allied Harmony officially terminates. The hand-over to the EU is in full agreement with the authorities in Skopje. The decision to end the operation was taken by NATO's top decision making body - the North Atlantic Council - on 17 March.
This decision has been made possible following the agreements reached by both parties on access by the EU to the collective assets and capabilities of NATO for EU-led operations. In effect, it allows NATO to support EU-led crisis management operations in which the Alliance as a whole is not engaged militarily. A framework agreement rehearsing the results of work on NATO-EU relations has been reached after intense negotiations between both parties. Work has been intense particularly since the landmark Declaration on the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) issued on 13 December 2002. It covers what are known as the "Berlin Plus" arrangements (para 10 of the 1999 NATO Washington Summit Declaration), which comprise four elements:
In 1999-2002 NATO-EU relations were further developed through decisions taken by the respective organisations. Arrangements for consultations and cooperation were agreed through an exchange of letters dated 24 January 2001. Since early 2001, NATO and EU have regular joint meeting, including at the level of their Foreign Ministers. On 14 March 2003, Lord Robertson and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, George Papandreou, on behalf of the EU Presidency, in Athens signed the NATO-EU Agreement on Security of Information. This agreement is the result of discussions between NATO and the EU on how to deal with classified information. NATO and the EU had to decide on common security standards to be able to share information and consult and cooperate on security issues.
Together with the other agreements reached, the NATO-EU Agreement on
Security and Information contributes to the overall development of the
NATO-EU strategic partnership in crisis management and conflict prevention.