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The “Visegrad” will also cooperate… especially in words!

(BRUSSELS2) The four Visegrad countries also want to strengthen their cooperation. The Polish, Czech, Hungarian and Slovak defense and foreign affairs ministers signed a joint declaration on the sidelines of the NATO meeting on Wednesday (April 18). Objective: strengthen the Alliance, including its defense capabilities. The title of the declaration is also eloquent: “responsibility for a strong Nato”. Unlike other cooperations (in-flight refueling, Benelux, etc.), it is not really a question here of committing to concrete projects but more of providing political support and precise direction to the Atlantic Alliance's projects. .

The anti-missile shield, the defense of NATO territories and an American presence in Europe

The 4 countries thus promise to “ support the development of the missile defense project » of NATO. “ A key element of collective defense that will contribute to the indivisible security of the Alliance” Through the words, we feel that these countries nevertheless remain attached to the traditional role of protecting NATO territories. “ We strongly support the conduct of exercises designed on scenarios based on Article 5 », the solidarity clause. In particular, they ask that the allies commit a little more determinedly to the “Steadfast jazz 2013” ​​exercise, which should be designed as a field exercise (and not a simulation exercise). The defense of the Alliance – through the DDP (Deterrence and Defense posture) – must remain a mix of conventional, nuclear and anti-missile defense capabilities, they specify. But the Visagrad countries support the maintenance of an American presence in Europe in a " continuous and adequate”. And we must engage Russia on a “ basis of reciprocity on all subjects, including transparency of tactical nuclear weapons ».

No withdrawal from Afghanistan

The Visegrad countries have also agreed to ensure that " withdraw from the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan only by mutual agreement, and by the end of 2014”, according to the principle “in together, out together” (get in together, go out together). Which nevertheless seems to contradict, at least for Poland, with the commitment made during the electoral campaign by the President of the Polish Republic (who, it is true, only has a limited role on the political scene). national). For the future, they consider it “essential” that the countries taking part in the operation closely coordinate their plans for the future in Afghanistan.

Participation in the Smart initiative

The signatories are ready to commit to various Smart Defense projects, “ an important factor in maintaining and increasing our collective and national defense capabilities ". They also welcome the development of capabilities in NATO and in the European Union “ which must mutually support each other with the aim of avoiding duplication ". But they only make proposals within the framework of Smart Defense. Several projects are thus listed in which these countries are ready to participate “through individual commitments”: the training of air traffic controllers, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defense, the training of helicopter pilots, joint logistics, medical treatment facilities, pooling of maritime patrol aircraft, training in the detection of improvised explosive devices (C-IED). No specific details are provided. But, more generally, the “Visegrad” believe that the solutions found for the joint financing of the security and operational investment costs of the AGS – Alliance Ground Surveillance - could be " extended to other similar capabilities » of NATO.

Expand NATO

The “Visegrads” want to continue NATO’s enlargement policy “ to countries that are willing and able to assume the obligations of NATO membership and the adoption of that which can contribute to our security ". It is one of the tools most successful and important to ensure stability and security ". And they hope for accession “as quickly as possible”. NB: no country is specified but we can think that in addition to the Balkans (Serbia, etc.), this may mainly concern certain countries of the former USSR such as Georgia, Moldova or even Ukraine. A point which does not seem to automatically excite certain member states such as France or Germany, who are not keen to engage in yet another front.

Download the full statement (English) in: B2 docs

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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