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13 février 2013 3 13 /02 /février /2013 20:10
Remarks by EEAS Deputy Secretary General Popowski following Informal meeting of Ministers for Defence


13/2/2013 EU source: Council Ref: CL13-017EN


Summary: 13 February 2013, Dublin - Remarks by Maciej Popowski, Deputy Secretary General for the European External Action Service following the Informal meeting of Ministers for Defence


Thank you, Minister, for hosting us!


Going back to the discussion on the wider picture - defence, the future of the European Defence - one of the ministers has captured it very well by saying that defence matters. I think we all recognize that defence matters, but we need to do our outmost to make it more operational.  We want to play a global role as the European Union, but we also have to be able to play a global role which means that we need the capability, we need the tools to do that, to be able to act.


When we talk about defence, it is not only about operations and missions, it is also about the industrial basis. We have a sizeable industry in Europe, there is a lot of untapped potential. For example there is potential for synergies on issues like research and development, when we talk about space, the remotely pirated systems, cyber security or maritime surveillance. There is a lot of civilian research going into that but it could serve both purposes, civilian and military, and this is the kind of potential we need to look at.


For Mali we are getting closer to the moment of deployment of the training mission, basically imminent. We still need to complete the process of force generation, but I think there is a lot of support for that and a lot of support and recognition for the French effort on the ground. Therefore it is really needed that we move into Mali and start training the Mali forces, including on the issues pertaining to human rights and humanitarian law. This is quite important and was underlined by many Member States. So we hope that the training will start, as planned, in early April.


On the Horn of Africa, we have made a lot of progress but there is no room for complacency. This is the message from the newly appointed Operation Commander of EUNAVFOR - Atalanta. The number of piracy attacks has gone down significantly, as ministers have said. But of course the pirates are there and they can always come back, so we need to maintain our posture. We also need to work with the authorities of the countries of the region, because piracy starts ashore, so we need to equip these countries to be better, to be able to police territorial waters for example, so we have already launched an advisory training mission to do that.


Finally, on the EU/UN partnership, it is now very high on the priority list and we are very engaged including the context of the Mali situation. We are also looking at a longer term international engagement with and in Mali, because UN is also considering launching a UN peace-keeping operation, a blue helmet operation sometime in the future.


Thank you very much.

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