EU Serious meeting of EU defense ministers – Kaikkonen hopes for a stronger role for the EU

“Unfortunately, the tensions seem to be continuing, and I consider the situation serious,” says Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen (center).

Brussels

Minister of Defense Antti Kaikkonen (Central) hopes that the EU will play a stronger role in the negotiations with Russia.

“Nothing can be decided or agreed on about the future of Europe without the European Union. The EU must be awake. Of course, the Member States have been consulted in other ways, but I myself would like the EU to be able to play a stronger role in these discussions. “

Kaikkonen attended an informal meeting of EU defense ministers in Brest, France, on Wednesday and Thursday. On Thursday, the ministers had a joint meeting with the EU foreign ministers, who will continue their own meeting on Friday.

Kaikkonen tells HS that the general mood of the Defense Ministers’ meeting was “serious”.

“We discussed the situation in Ukraine and Russia’s demands. On Wednesday night, the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg was a dinner guest and gave a fresh greeting from the NATO-Russia meeting. “

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In Europe is a busy week due to the situation in Ukraine and Russia’s demands. Earlier this week, the US and Russian deputy foreign ministers discussed in Geneva, with the NATO-Russia Council meeting on Wednesday and the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Thursday.

“It’s good to have even sat at the same table, even though this week doesn’t come ready. Unfortunately, the tensions seem to be continuing, and I consider the situation to be serious. I see no other sensible way out than through diplomacy. ”

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France intends to take forward EU defense cooperation during its presidency, which has begun at the beginning of the year and has been described as a ‘strategic compass’. One of its aims is, among other things, to reform the current EU Rapid Reaction Force, which is neither fast nor very active.

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The compass is only a draft and its contents have not yet been approved by EU countries.

Politico magazine According to the latest draft, the text on Russia, among others, has been sharpened.

“The draft has gone in a better direction, it takes better account of the current situation and describes the operating environment more clearly. The aim is for the document to be adopted in March. This is one of the most important, if not the most important, projects of the French Presidency, ”says Kaikkonen.

Politicon According to the draft, the draft co-operation emphasizes that the five principles agreed in March 2016 will still be adhered to when delivering with Russia.

It was agreed at the time that there would be no change in attitudes towards Russia without the implementation of the Minsk agreements on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In addition, the EU will strengthen relations with the Eastern Partners and improve its own resilience, including in the areas of security of energy supply and the fight against hybrid threats.

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According to the principles, selective relations with Russia are possible on issues important to the EU. In addition, the EU wants to increase people-to-people contacts and support Russian civil society.

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