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ESDP ambition reduced to a minimum for the Czech EU Presidency

(B2) In terms of external relations, the Czech presidency has three important priorities: Euro-Atlantic relations – the hoped-for summit with Obama should be its apotheosis; the integration of the Balkans – “postponed for too long” according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg – and the holding of an EU-Balkans summit; finally, the Eastern Partnership with neighboring countries. Nothing really important in terms of European defense and security policy (ESDP). So much for political priorities.

But to see what a presidency is, it is also interesting to look at the agendas planned for the Councils of Ministers this semester. In external matters, the exercise is quite difficult because it is often disrupted by current events. As the latest Israeli offensive on Gaza proves again. And as could be proven in the weeks and months that follow several latent or open conflicts that could arise (Afghanistan, Darfur, South Ossetia, Somalia, East Timor).

January 26. Afghanistan and Darfur are on the Council's agenda.

February 23. The situation in Chad and the Central African Republic will be discussed (Eufor will hand over to Minurcat II on March 15). The mandate of the special representative in Georgia (like that for Central Asia - provided by the same Pierre Morel - and the South Caucasus) will have to be renewed, like the mandate of other special representatives, in particular that for the peace process in the Middle East (Belgian Marc Otte) or the one on Moldova. The 27 will also have to decide to renew or review the position concerning sanctions against the leaders of Transnistria (the secessionist region of Moldova whose independence remains unrecognized, including by Russia). The Council will also consider the Eulex Kosovo mission together with the declaration of full operational capability (FOC).

March 16. A new EU-Moldova agreement could be launched with the adoption of the negotiating mandate. And a first discussion on Bosnia-Herzegovina (the future of the European military mission Althea is in question). Conclusions on Somalia and the Balkans are also expected.

The 27 April. A discussion on relations with Russia will be on the Council's menu. With the holding of a partnership council (April 28).

May the 18 (“Jumbo” Defense – Development – ​​Foreign Affairs Council). A discussion and a decision must be made on the future of the European military mission in Bosnia (Althea). The ministers will also take note of the traditional reports from the European Defense Agency, on the development of the EU's military capabilities and the 2009 force catalog. The crisis management concept of the security sector reform mission ( EU SSR) in Guinea-Bissau will also be reviewed. And a report on conflict prevention could be adopted (or in June). At this same Council, a new action plan for relations with Israel must be approved. Delicate subject…

June 15. Iran – with the result of the nuclear discussions and the elections –; the United States (for preparation of the Summit with Obama); the Congo (the extension and prolongation
of the security sector reform mission – Eusec RD Congo) are included in the program; as well as the revision of the mandate of the special representative in Bosnia.

NB: the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers generally takes place on Mondays. Tuesday is reserved for meetings with third countries (where generally only the minister of the current presidency – the Czech Karel Schwarzenberg – sits, that of the next one – the Swedish Carl Bildt – and the High Representative – Javier Solana).

Meetings with third countries. Troikas: Serbia and Belarus (January), Albania (February), Montenegro (March), African Union (April), Community of West African States (Ecowas).
Cooperation or Association Councils: Lebanon (January), Turkmenistan (March), Croatia, Egypt, Albania (April), Turkey, Israel (May), Ukraine, Moldova, Algeria (June).

(NGV)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).