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When the EU(O) conducted a joint maritime embargo with NATO. An example for today?

Canadian visiting team, for Operation Sharp Guard (credit: NATO)

20 years ago, Europe had no defense policy. And it was the Western European Union that was in charge of these issues. An organization which undoubtedly did not have the consistency of the current European Union but nevertheless carried out several operations. At the beginning of the 1990s, it carried out, first alone, then jointly with NATO, a maritime and air surveillance operation off the coast of the former Yugoslavia to control the arms embargo decreed by the Nations. -United.

Two solo missions from WEU and NATO

Meeting in Helsinki on July 10, 1992, the Council of Ministers of the WEU (*) decided that the naval forces of the WEU would participate in the Adriatic in monitoring the embargo decreed against the former Yugoslavia at the United Nations. It will be Operation SHARP VIGILANCE until November 1992 then SHARP FENCE until July 1993. NATO was also conducting its own operation at the time (called MARITIME GUARD). "It was really strange to have two similar operations in the same place with different rules, even dangerous.“, explains Willem van Eekelen, Dutch Minister of Defense, Secretary General of the WEU until 1994 (interviewed in 2009 by the CVCE).

A single joint WEU-NATO mission

On June 8, 1993, the WEU and NATO Councils approved, under the cover of United Nations Security Council Resolution 820, the concept of a joint operation by establishing a single command for the operation "SHARP GUARD", scheduled to begin on June 15, 1993. It lasts three years and ends on June 15, 1996. It aims to control the arms embargo at sea and prevent unauthorized ships from entering the territorial waters of Serbia-Montenegro. It is accompanied by aerial surveillance.

A joint command is formed, under the direction of an Italian admiral, Carlo Alberto Vandini (commander-in-chief of NATO forces in Naples). CTF 440 then had around twenty ships from around ten countries (France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Greece, United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Turkey, Norway).

Review of

During this operation, WEU is deploying four ships and half a dozen maritime patrol and early warning aircraft (Awacs). On the French side, several ships were successively engaged: the frigate Georges Leygues (2), the aviso Destroyat or the aviso Drogou. A small WEU staff element provided control of one of the joint naval groups while another was attached to COMNAVSOUTH HQ in Naples. In total, some 74.000 arrests were carried out, nearly 6 buildings were inspected at sea and more than 000 diverted and inspected in port. Six were intercepted attempting to breach the embargo.

(1) WEU members include 9 then 10 (with Greece) of the 12 member states of the European Community (the EEC except Denmark and Ireland).

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).

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