EUFOR RCA. Long live the Georgians?

(credit: Georgian Defense Ministry)
(credit: Georgian Defense Ministry)

(BRUXELLES2 – exclusive) The contours of the European military operation are still unclear. But the list of countries that could participate is becoming clearer.

Bilateral aid is enough!

Some countries that were mentioned earlier, such as the Poles or the Belgians, or even the Visegrad (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary), no longer really seem willing to send personnel. Some of them (Poland, Belgium) have already done so on a bilateral basis and therefore consider themselves at the end of the effort to be made. Which is not wrong…

Contrast painting

Conversely, others who had so far shown only limited interest, or said nothing, are now taking a more positive view. The picture is therefore very contrasting. And between the meeting of foreign ministers, next Monday (February 10) and the more informal meeting of defense ministers, on February 20 and 21, in Athens, the main contributions should emerge.

Participation… outside the EU

According to a final inventory, conducted by B2, the composition of the force would be somewhat different from that which has been described so far. Besides the Estonians (which have already announced their presence), the operation could be set up thanks to a third country... the Georgia. The EU has, in fact, appealed to the countries with which they had a participation agreement. Tbilisi has thus offered to provide one of the three necessary companies (about 140 men). What corresponds to a real will of this State of the Caucasus, which entered the association process last November, to anchor itself in a European panorama.

A country going into OPEX

Georgia is a country accustomed to sending troops abroad, but so far mainly alongside or at the request of the United States. They were thus in Iraq and are still in Kosovo or in Afghanistan. When they signed the framework agreement for participation in the CSDP, they had expressed their desire to quickly join European missions or operations

Nordics and Spaniards?

The other notable participation emerging is that of the Nordic countries. The Finland could send up to 50-60 men/women (and not a few officers or twenty people as initially sketched). The Suede would follow with some staff. We remember that the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, had – at the last meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs – expressed his “contempt” (a diplomatic term to say that he was not at all happy) on the non-use of battlegroups in the Central African Republic. This would allow the formation of a second (Nordic) company.

Another participation which could be confirmed: that of Spain. Despite statements to the contrary at first sight, the Spanish could, in fact, send one or more sections (30-40 personnel). The Romanians also expressed their possibility of sending men.

Germans and Greeks: to the economy

Finally, theGermany will provide means of medical evacuation as well as the Lithuania, a plane. The Greeks on the other hand, they will not provide any soldiers on the ground but a few personnel for the headquarters of the operation which will be located... in Larissa (the HQ being financed by common funds, it is a way like any other for the Greeks to do pay by Europe for this structure which has never been used). Note that the Serbs were also approached. But, for the moment, their proposal does not seem sufficient.

Thank you Tbilisi!

If everyone keeps their promises, this would make it possible to reach the target workforce without too much difficulty (approximately 500 personnel). French participation would then be less than half of the quota (less than 250). And European honor will be safe! Thanks to the Georgians… However, we cannot say that everyone is rushing to participate or announce their participation. And if the workforce to be reached is not huge, this wait-and-see attitude is not a very good sign of health for European defense.

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).