OPINION

Opinion

The EU may have declared the operational readiness of the Euroforce at the Laeken summit, but in reality it only managed to keep up appearances. The real problem remains unsolved. The fact is that the 60,000-strong Euroforce will not possess its own military infrastructure but will have to depend on the NATO alliance. Ankara’s institutional right to block the use of NATO assets could not by itself make the EU force hostage to its veto. Politically speaking, Turkey would never have dared to do this had it not been for Washington’s clear backing. With US support, Turkey has, from the outset, demanded an equal say in decision-making despite the fact that it is not an EU member. Eventually, the controversial document was produced that essentially meets basic European needs. The hot spots where the Euroforce will be deployed are near Turkish territory and hence Turkey will have to be consulted on military planning. The controversial document undermines Greek interests and this is why Prime Minister Costas Simitis has threatened to use Greece’s veto. Above all, however, it jeopardizes the EU effort to acquire an independent defense. The bargaining which produced the document, outside of official structures, constituted a blatant violation of Community principles. Britain played a leading role in this development, as given its special relationship with the USA it has never been a warm advocate of an independent EU force… The crisis in Portugal is of particular interest because it is not an isolated case. It is actually a phenomenon which threatens other, relatively weak, EU economies, the Greek one included. The fact that Greece has lagged behind in the area of economic reforms and, particularly, of privatizations, combined with the fact that the expected rise in imports has not yet taken place seems to make for equilibrium.