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Priorities of Czech EU Presidency in Defence

The speech of Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic Vlasta Parkanová at the GAERC session in the format of EU ministers of defence, Brussels, 10 November 2008.

As the historically first Czech Presidency is upcoming shortly, let me share with you some initial ideas on our programme and priorities within the ESDP. Our aim is to maintain the course in the implementation of the 18-month EU Presidency program continuing the work started by France, including close co-operation with our Swedish colleagues.

In the course of our Presidency, we will primarily focus on three fundamental areas:

  • capabilities development/European Defence Agency;
  • operations;
  • cooperation with strategic partners, with the focus on NATO.

Capabilities/EDA

The Czech Presidency will support and facilitate continuation of European capabilities development with a special emphasis on some capability areas, most notably on helicopters and the idea of the EATF.

With regard to the European Defence Agency, the Czech Presidency intends to pay special attention to support the Agency´s effort in the process of development of the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base and in promoting the education in armaments.

We will continue to take forward the idea of the Erasmus exchange programme, the recent initiative seeking to enhance interoperability through educational exchanges of officers.

As to the ‘post-Wiesbaden’ process, the evaluation phase of recommendations on EUMS capabilities will be performed during the Czech Presidency.

We will also focus on the evaluation and preparation of EU Crisis management exercises CME 08 and CME 09, and in broader terms, on the EU training and exercises programme.

Operations

The Czech Republic is aware of the particular importance of the Western Balkans. The Czech Presidency will therefore be closely watching the security and political situation in the area and in this mind we will support the discussion on the further evolution of the operation ALTHEA.

During our Presidency, we will together face the challenge of re-hatting, or let´s say blue-hatting of the EUFOR Chad/CAR operation in mid-March 2009. The smooth transfer of responsibility is important to ensure a safe and secure environment in the area in the future as well as for own credibility.

Although a land-locked country, we will pay appropriate attention to the military maritime operation in Somalian national waters in order to conduct and accomplish the mission with success.

Co-operation with strategic partners

We will carry on activities in security partnerships, with the focus on NATO. We share the views, together with the previous European Union presidencies, that there is an urgent requirement, as well as an opportunity, for significant improvement of co-operation between these two organisations.

The Presidency will strive for better cooperation between the EU and NATO in common theatres of operations, especially in Kosovo and Afghanistan. We also intend to concentrate on areas of military capabilities development, their consistency, and on harmonization of capability planning processes of these two organisations.

Here we have a window of opportunity. At present, both organisations work on revisions of their own planning processes, which could allow us to harmonise them with the goal of better coherence and avoidance of duplicities. This opportunity should not be missed. To be successful, the approach on both sides should be pragmatic and output oriented.

The Czech Presidency will continue in strengthening of partnerships with the United Nations, African Union and other international actors.

Last but not least, let me invite all of you, unofficially at this moment, to the Czech Republic to the Informal Defence Ministerial meeting, which will be held in March 2009.

Thank you for your attention.