The Slovenia Times

Slovenia pleased with EU Strategic Compass

Daily news

Brussels - Slovenia "must be pleased" with the EU's Strategic Compass, a shared vision for EU security and defence, Defence Minister Matej Tonin said on Tuesday after EU defence ministers launched debated the draft document.

The first responses to the document, prepared by the presiding trio of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia, are good and confirm that the direction is right, but some details are yet to be hashed out, said Tonin. The goal is to confirm the Strategic Compass in March next year.

The document reflects all of Slovenia's priorities, from the Western Balkans to deeper cooperation between the EU and NATO and an emphasis on climate change and greater energy efficiency of the defence system.

According to Tonin, the creation of a 5,000-strong rapid reaction force received the most attention in the debates. Operational scenarios are expected next year, joint exercises and training are supposed to start in 2023, and the force is to become operational by 2025.

The Strategic Compass places more emphasis on cyberspace and space, and it envisages a set of measures to fight hybrid threats, for example in circumstances such as the current crisis on the Polish-Belarus border.

Some of the key open issues include the definition of common costs, which is to be finalised by 2023, and how decisions on operations will be taken.

Individual words will be crucial in the finalisation of the document, according to Tonin: how Turkey ought to be mentioned, how to determine the bloc's role on the Mediterranean, and how to include civilian capabilities. "These will be the top three dilemmas we're going to be dealing with in the coming months."

Another issue the ministers discussed today is the migration crisis on the border with Belarus. Tonin said Cyprus warned that the modus operandi employed on the border of eastern member states was already used in Cyprus as well.

The debate also touched on the Russian troop build-up on the border with Ukraine. Tonin said the EU was keeping a close eye on the situation and would help Ukraine with advice and financial support. He said the Russian troop presence along the Ukrainian border was a cause of concern since it did not have the features of normal military exercises.

Asked whether he thinks the migration crisis on the EU's border with Belarus and the Russian troop movements on the border with Ukraine were related, Tonin said this was a cheap trick known from the Cold War: you create a problem somewhere to divert attention.

The ministers also confirmed 14 new defence projects in the framework of the Pesco defence structure. Slovenia will participate in two, respectively focusing on small unmanned aerial vehicles and strategic transportation.


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