Press Advisories

30. 1. 2009 8:34

EU Defence Policy Directors meet in Prague

On 28-29 January, the Prague Congress Centre hosted an informal meeting of Defence Policy Directors from the Defence Ministries of the EU Member States, organised by the Czech Presidency.

The second day of the meeting opened with a speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová. The meeting was chaired by the Director of Defence Policy and Strategy Division of the Ministry of Defence, Ivan Dvořák, on behalf of the Czech Presidency.

The meeting, which brought together representatives of all EU Member States, was also attended by Director for Defence Affairs of the General Secretariat of the EU Council Claude-France Arnold, Director General of the European Union Military Staff EU Lieutenant General David Leakey and Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency Alexander Weis. The Assistant to the NATO Secretary General, Jiří Šedivý, was also present since one of the themes was the cooperation between the EU and NATO.

The Defence Policy Directors devoted their informal meeting particularly to preparations of the Informal Meeting of Defence Ministers that will be held on 12 – 13 March 2009 in Prague. The main point on the agenda of the first day of the meeting were the EU military operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (ALTHEA), Chad and RCA (EUFOR CHAD/RCA) and the first navy mission of the EU, ATLANTA, the objective of which is to combat pirates in Somalian waters. The current state of this mission and its future development were discussed at a working dinner.

The second day of the meeting was launched by a speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Minster of Defence Vlasta Parkanová. In her address she remarked that the year in which the Czech Republic assumed its first EU Presidency in history is a year that is important to us for a number of reasons: “It is the year when Europe will commemorate 20 years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, it will be 5 years since the largest enlargement of the EU, it will mark the 10th anniversary of the birth of the ESDP institutional architecture established at the EU Summit in Cologne, and last but not least this spring we will also commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of NATO and 10 years since the first post-Cold War wave of NATO enlargement,” stated Minister Parkanová. With respect to the priorities and objectives of the Czech Presidency in the area of defence Vlasta Parkanová remarked that its fundamental principles are realism and transparency. “Realism in the sense that there is already a significant number of projects and initiatives that need to be looked at; and transparency as openness to cooperation with all other significant international players. This means sharing and exchanging information”, emphasised the Minister of Defence. According to the Minister the Czech Presidency will attempt to continue the co-operation with the UN, the African Union and particularly with NATO in the area of security. “In this regard, the individual international organisations cannot follow only their own path”, added the Minister of Defence who claimed that she would like to devote personal attention to this issue.

In the course of the meeting the defence policy directors dealt with the development of military capabilities in the EU. For the Czech Presidency the focal point in this area is the issue of helicopter availability for operations. The Czech Presidency is holding an international seminar dedicated to this topic next week in Prague. The objective of this seminar will be discussion of possible approaches to meeting the required quota for Mi transport helicopters in operations. In the area of development of military capabilities the meeting further focused on continuation of projects and programmes that had been initiated by the French Presidency. One of these projects is an exchange programme focused on military education inspired by the ERASMUS programme; the Czech Presidency will further develop this concept.

The concluding part of the informal meeting was devoted to the EU co-operation with its strategic partners in the area of security, i.e. with NATO, UN and the African Union.

The Defence Policy Directors of the Ministries of Defence of the EU Member States will meet again during the Czech Presidency at a formal meeting on 16 – 17 April 2009 in Brussels.

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