EU and NATO by Pertti Torstila, 31 March 2000
In Belgrade on 2 June 1999 President Slobodan Milosevic, having already conceded to the general terms of the Peace Plan still wanted to bargain for the command and composition of the international peacekeeping forces to be deployed in Kosovo after the NATO air campaign. He wanted forces to be placed under the United Nations flag. President Ahtisaari crushed his hopes by saying that the forces would lack credibility if certain countries were not in it, if KFOR were not NATO-led. Finland´s President would not send Finnish soldiers to the international Kosovo force unless prerequisites for a succesful operation were guaranteed. There was no other international organisation capable of giving such guarantees and bringing peace to the war-torn Kosovo province than NATO.
Finland is a militarily non-allied country, but this did not prevent the Finnish President from realising what kind of a mission the Kosovo operation was going to be and that robust peace-keepers were needed. A traditional Chapter VI peace-keeping operation would not be enough.
KFOR became NATO-led and within eight weeks from the announcement Finland sent some 800 well-trained and well-equipped soldiers to Kosovo.
The KFOR experience merits to be studied closely now as the work on the European Union´s crisis management progresses rapidly. KFOR is a test case whose failures and successes offer valuable material for those who are planning Union´s own crisis management for the coming years. KFOR serves as a useful model for comparable future operations both in size and quality. The future EU-led crisis management operations can in principle be autonomous and purely European or they can be operations using NATO assets and capabilities. The KFOR experience and the state of preparations in the EU suggest that credible military crisis management without recourse to NATO´s resources will not be possible within the next few years.
I would like to offer the audience three sets of questions as well as some elements for answers.
1. Why should the EU have a military component in its common foreign and security policy? If the Europeans continue to depend on NATO assets - as I have just suggested - why then do we need to have a military crisis management capability of our own? What else would this be than "unnecessary duplication" that we promised to avoid in Cologne and Helsinki. Why not to count on the existing and tested military force, NATO? Why "militarise" the European Union?
NATO is first and foremost a defence alliance for its members. NATO´s core task is collective defence whereas EU´s security and defence policy is not an Article 5 matter. Member States of the Union are not creating a fighting European army. NATO-led non-Article 5 operations are reality in Bosnia and Kosovo now , but one day NATO as an organisation may not be "as a whole engaged" and its role may be downscaled in situations which require international intervention. Europeans through the EU must in such situations possess practical ability to apply force if other options fail. We must build a foundation for independent European operations. Building a specific European crisis management capacity for non-Article 5 matters does not turn the Union into a military organization. It is logical part of the development of European integration and gives the Union the capacity to exert influence through security assistance in crisis situations. It makes the Union stronger for its members and the environment more secure for others, too.
2. Is the emerging European Union security and defence identity a threat to NATO´s integrity and to the transatlantic ties? Or conversely: is an institutionalised EU-NATO relationship in contradiction with the European plans? What about the involvement of third countries in EU´s crisis management plans? Does an ESDP which aims at EU´s own and distinct identity erode the fundaments of the Western defence alliance? And as we do not want this to happen should we stop building ESDP?
The answer to the last question is : no, we must continue this challenging construction scheme because if is developed in harmonious cooperation it is beneficial to all. Drifting apart would not only jeopardise the ongoing operations but would also cast a shadow over the developing European security and defence policy and be detrimental to NATO´s cohesion. The EU does not want any of these things to happen.
EU´s ESDP is not NATO´s ESDI. Although ESDI was defined within the NATO framework and ESDP in the EU there should be no cause for alarm in any quarter. No one is suggesting that collective defence should form part of the EU mandate. But if ESDP is succesfully completed all will win. Get all ESDP details right early on, and Europe´s emerging security profile and crisis management capability will strengthen security all round.
The EU-NATO arrangement surely is among the complex issues to be settled but among the most urgent as well. To get the "headline goal" established we need the NATO mechanisms and therefore a well-functioning EU-NATO link. Satisfactory EU-NATO arrangements will also contribute to the modalities of consultation with third states and Norway, Iceland, Turkey, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in particular. Strobe Talbott said in his recent speech in London: " We (the US) want to see a Europe that can act effectively through the Alliance, or , if NATO is not engaged, on its own". This statement shoulders well the Union´s ambitions. The EU and its ESDP is not the European pillar of NATO, but building for the Union a crisis management capacity of its own also functions as a reassessment of the transatlantic relationship.
3. And finally, what is the position of EU´s non-allied members ?
On the eve of the Finnish EU Presidency doubts were expressed about "neutral Finland´s" ability and resolve to advance in the sensitive area of common foreign and security policy. Some even questioned Finland´s will to implement the ambitious decisions made by the Cologne Summit.
These doubts were without grounds. Since its accession to the European Union in 1995, Finland had no longer regarded itself as a neutral country. For us - in a union with common foreign and security policy - there are no neutrals; militarily non-allied yes, but no neutrals. One should not forget that "the Petersberg tasks" were included in the Amsterdam Treaty at a joint Finnish-Swedish initiative. During our Presidency we set high targets for ourselves and our partners in order to give effect to this initiative. Finland will have no difficulties in identifying the kind of national contribution which can be expected from us to the headline goal. As a longtime peacekeeper we possess capabilities and force elements to deliver the goal.
The militarily non-allied EU countries have stood fast by their basic starting
points : not to create a European army , not to duplicate NATO, but to create a well-functioning crisis management potential - military and civilian - for the European Union. Attaining the jointly set target will depend on the national action taken by each Member State. Each country retains its own power of decision, but our joint commitment is clear.
In his report to the Parliament last November Prime Minister Lipponen said that the task assigned to Finland in Cologne, of developing Europe’s crisis management capability, is of vital importance both to Finland and to the whole of the European Union. We made this task one of the prime goals of our Presidency. We promised to place before the Helsinki European Council a substantive report which would take the Union systematically towards its jointly agreed objectives. The promise was kept. Now the implementation of those decisions is ahead of us all.