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Article by Yiorgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and International Relations Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL

15th November 2017

The Government Spokesman, Nicos Christodoulides, talking about Cyprus’ accession to the PESCO military co-operation, claimed that with PESCO, the EU is “clearly” becoming independent of NATO on defense issues. Let’s refute this claim by pointing out that the crucial point is not whether the EU is together or separate from NATO, but what the EU and NATO are doing together or separately.

Mr. Christodoulides should have read the Joint Notification on PESCO, which 23 EU governments signed yesterday, including the Anastasiades government that he himself represents, through the signature of the Foreign and Defense Ministers.

In the Joint Notification, it is clearly stated that PESCO will function “in complementarity with NATO, which will continue to be the cornerstone of collective defence for its members. The Notoification also states that “enhanced defence capabilities of EU Member States will also benefit NATO. They will strengthen the European pillar within the Alliance and respond to repeated demands for stronger transatlantic burden sharing.” (That is to say, respond to the US President Trump’s demand for a greater contribution by Europeans to NATO).

In addition, the Joint Notification refers to the interoperability of the armed forces of the co-signatory states and the commitment to agree on common technical and operational standards of forces acknowledging that they need to ensure interoperability with NATO.”

Furthermore, the representative of the Anastasiades government could also have read the statements made by the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg who yesterday welcomed PESCO stating that “European defence is good for Europe, but also good for NATO”, clarifying that “we need to be sure that forces and capabilities developed under PESCO are also available for NATO” and that “we need the fullest possible involvement of non-EU NATO Allies in the consultations and in the process.” It is clear I assume, if not for everyone, for many that the NATO Secretary-General is photographing Turkey, or at least Turkey as well, from which PESCO will supposedly protect us.

Let the Anastasiades Government, the Government Spokesman and the governing DISY party, if they want and can, ideologically defend NATO, EU-NATO coupling, the deeper militarization of the European Union and the transformation of Cyprus into an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” that will be at the disposal of NATO too as its leader wants. Nikolas Papadopoulos and DIKO, may if assigned attempt to do the same who, in fact, is competing with DISY for the paternity of the accession to PESCO, membership of NATO by the back door and the increase in military expenditures in Cyprus that this demands.

Let them try it, however, by revealing, not by hiding, what the texts which they themselves have signed specify and which both Anastasiades and Papadopoulos welcome and celebrate together.

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