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European Union member states sign joint notification on deepening defense cooperation

13 November 2017, 07:26 | Myron Mathis

European Union member states sign joint notification on deepening defense cooperation

European Union member states sign joint notification on deepening defense cooperation

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described the signing of PESCO as a "historic moment in European defense".

"It was important for us especially after the election of the American president that we can organise ourselves independently as Europeans", German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.

She added: "It is essential to avoid importing into Lebanon regional conflicts, regional dynamics, regional tensions, that have to stay out of the country".

Estonian Defense Minister Jüri Luik said the main focus of the new initiative would be defense industries as "collective defense will always remain in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".

In his first TV interview since he resigned November 4, Hariri said he was compelled to resign to save Lebanon from unspecified imminent dangers.

Mogherini said that by coordinating their efforts, European countries would get better value for money in defence.

Apart from Britain, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland and Malta have yet to decide whether to join the pact.

"If there is a crisis in our neighborhood, we have to be able to act", she said. The notice of intent to be inked in Brussels on Monday, seen by AFP, includes a pledge to "regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms" as well as commitments to devote 20 percent of defence spending on procurement and two percent on research and technology. These include the establishment of an European Union defense headquarters for training missions in Somalia, Mali and Central African Republic, a pilot project to coordinate national budgets to identify capability shortfalls, and the new military pact.

France was initially keen for a smaller group of nations that would more readily commit to possible foreign interventions such as in Libya or Mali.

"The Germans say respect unity and proceed modestly at the start with... all these little projects - they won't help the EU's independent capacity", Mauro told AFP.

"This is the beginning of a common work - 23 member states engaging both on capabilities and on operational steps, that's something big", Mogherini said. "It has no chance of working".

British foreign minister Boris Johnson said that even though it was not taking part, the United Kingdom saw promise in PESCO and pledged to be "supportive". PESCO includes a pledge that countries will provide "substantial support. with personnel, materiel, training, exercise support, infrastructure" for European Union military missions, the document said. Britain can take part in some if they are of benefit to the entire EU.

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