By The Associated Press
The European Union and NATO could not deal jointly and effectively with a world crisis, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer warned in Berlin. There was still a remarkable separateness about the two bodies, the Dutchman told an audience of 150 EU officials who met to discuss European defense policies at a conference hosted by the German Foreign Ministry.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the potential in the strategic partnership agreed between the two bodies “has yet to be used,” adding that both parties still had to work on the relationship. Steinmeier said the objective was to establish the “joint defense of Europe” in a “shared vision” that would bring savings to the individual nations, though he did not specify if he meant by this a single European armed force. De Hoop Scheffer said one reason for the present weakness was that there were too many doubters, deliberately keeping the EU and NATO apart for fear of too much US influence. He said the military alliance and the EU needed to link up to bring a turn for the better in the world’s crisis spots.
Efforts in Afghanistan not ideal
The NATO head also said that there was also room for improvement at his organization. “We could do better than now,” he said without going into further details regarding NATO operations in Afghanistan during an interview with Germany’s n-tv news channel on Monday.
“NATO can create an environment where reconstruction is possible, but it cannot completely answer all Afghanistan’s open questions,” de Hoop Scheffer added. Efforts to aid in Afghan reconstruction are scheduled to be the subject of a two-day international conference beginning Tuesday in Berlin.
The EU was the world’s most powerful civilian body and NATO the most powerful military alliance, yet there was much doubling up of effort and a lack of cooperation between them, de Hoop Scheffer said. Chief EU diplomat, Javier Solana, told the same conference that most EU nations did not spend enough on defense and would miss joint targets for 2010. He said the United States invested far more in its armed forces and arsenal.