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The Future of the European Security and Defence Policy - Speech by the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia Karl Erjavec at Alumni Seminar (Hotel Mons, 11 April 2008)

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour and a pleasure for me to address you at the beginning of today's meeting which marks our joint efforts for progress in the field of European security and defence policy. The 'Alumni' meeting is the first of its kind and it is very important since you, the participants, are the ones who are called upon and most challenged to consider the concept of change in the field of European Security And Defence Policy (ESDP). This event provides a valuable opportunity to speak about the future of the ESDP. We are entering a period in which our common future is of prime importance. Europe is increasingly involved in shaping world events. This brings new challenges in the field of ESDP and, undoubtedly, the Lisbon Treaty will have a critical role in the search for answers to unresolved issues. I am convinced that your considerations and conclusions will make a significant contribution to the efforts we need to invest in the future development of the European Community and in our further joint cooperation.

The Lisbon Treaty introduces a number of changes in the field of ESDP, which is an integral element of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP). It enables the EU in future to use operational civilian and military capabilities. They will be used on missions for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the UN Charter. Common foreign and security policy will gradually enable a common defence policy and a common defence to be set up, should the European Council so decide.

One of the main characteristics of the new Treaty is the confirmation and strengthening of the intergovernmental character of the common foreign and security policy. However, national security remains the sole responsibility of each Member State.

The Lisbon Treaty provides for the creation of the new office of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the establishment of a European External Action Service, which will cooperate with the diplomatic services of the Member States. Furthermore, the list of Petersberg tasks will be expanded, which will facilitate permanent structured cooperation between the Member States who opt to participate. New tasks will be assigned to the European Defence Agency.

We cannot as yet evaluate the implications the new common foreign and security policy will have for Europe in the next 20 years. We can, however, be certain of one thing: with the requisite political will, these changes will bring about long-term progress in the field of international security. When each of the Member States, regardless of size, contributes its share, the effect of synergy will undoubtedly be greater than the sum of our individual shares.

Our objective is to promote the rule of law, democracy, security and stability and European standards. The European Union and Slovenia fully support a future in Europe for all the Western Balkans. This was also included among the priorities of Slovenia's EU Council Presidency programme. At the same time, we support strict adherence to the principle that the countries wishing to join the EU must fulfil the requisite membership criteria.

European Security and Defence Policy is one of the fastest growing 'institutions' in the European Union, and it is safe to say that relevant civilian and military capabilities also play an important role in the planning and execution of operations. The ESDP attaches great importance to this area.

'Revision of the EU Military Rapid Response Concept' is critical for the conduct of crisis response operations. The concept is designed to enable the EU to respond immediately in the event of a crisis. However, it requires that Member States do not simply express political will in support of the concept but also make tangible contributions.

'Continued work on the Progress Catalogue and Beyond' focuses on shortfalls. Military capability shortfalls have been identified, in particular in the mobilisation of forces, strategic transport, protection of forces and further development of capabilities.

Furthermore, 'Strengthening EU-NATO and EU-UN cooperation' is of essential importance since cooperation with these organisations needs to be even more pragmatic and complementary. At a practical operational level, we must do everything possible to enable the exchange of information between partners.

Last but not least is the 'area of human rights'. During the German Presidency it was already decided that respect for human rights would be the 'main message' of all European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) operations. Slovenia's priority in this area are the women and children affected by armed conflicts. To this end, EU Council working groups are preparing a review of existing documents relating to the respect of human rights and the rights of women and children.

While the present is conditioned directly by events, by time and the available capabilities, we all clearly recognise that future coexistence and cooperation call for a vision on the lines of that articulated 50 years ago. Looking into the future is the main focus of our discussions in this seminar.

Let me conclude with the motto of the Slovenian Presidency 'Synergy for Europe' with its connotations of unity and cooperation: working together in order to achieve more than one can alone is a principle which is appropriate for all levels of cooperation within European Security and Defence Policy.

I wish you every success in your work and trust that Slovenia's natural beauties will encourage your creativity.

Thank you for your attention.


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Date: 11.04.2008