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From Belarus to the Middle East: IPC CFSP/CSDP focuses on hot spots

There is truly no shortage of important topics for the Interparliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy (IPC CFSP/CSDP). Four hours are planned for the autumn conference, to be hosted by the German Bundestag on Friday, 4 September – as well as a video conference, due to the corona virus. The event will be livestreamed from 10.00 hrs via www.parleu2020.de. “The IPC would need to meet for weeks at a time in order to work through the list of all the important topics”, said Dietmar Nietan, Member of the Bundestag for the SPD and head of the German delegation to the IPC. Yet the most important thing, he continued, was to keep the discussion going. “Often, the IPC leads to new points of contact and channels of conversation that can be explored in greater depth after the meeting.”

Exchange of opinions with the EU High Representative Borrell

In the first part of the conference, the representatives from the 27 national parliaments of the EU will have the opportunity to discuss matters with Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign and Security Policy. David McAllister, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, will moderate a round of questions starting at 10.30, after the President of the Bundestag Dr Wolfgang Schäuble has opened the conference together with Nietan and McAllister.

EU High Representative Borrell had already made clear his concerns regarding relations between the EU and Turkey at a meeting of representatives from the Bundestag and the College of the EU Commission in early July. There were misgivings regarding the upholding of human rights in view of Turkey’s actions in Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean region, he said. This created tensions in relations with Turkey, he continued. However, Borrell also stressed that despite all efforts to uphold European values, it must be ensured “that an uncontrolled deterioration of our relations with Turkey” is prevented. As regards relations with the USA, the High Representative was of the view that repeated reminders of the shared values and objectives were required. Cooperation must continue – no matter who the President of the United States is, Borrell insisted.

Belarus, Russia, the Middle East, the Western Balkans and China

Dietmar Nietan, the head of the German delegation, also considers these topics to be important, while naming several more at the same time. “We will certainly also look at Belarus and Russia. The Middle East remains a perennial issue, as do the Western Balkans and relations with China“, he said.

Nietan welcomes progress on the development of the European Defence Fund

The second part of the conference, beginning at 13.00 hrs, is entitled “Paths towards a European Defence Union – strategic realignment of the EUs security and defence policy”. Dr Ronja Kempin from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs will introduce the topic, while Dietmar Nietan will moderate the discussion to follow. The foreign policy specialist for the SPD is pleased that “progress has been made in the development of the European Defence Fund”. Personally, he considers a European parliamentary army to be a reasonable idea. “It is right that we place our focus on diplomacy and peace policy. A European army would be an important pillar of our shared defence policy on top of this.” This type of army certainly won’t be created in the short term, he is under no illusions. “Yet the topic remains on the table. At the same time, we cannot forget that the EU already operates numerous civil and military missions and that the armies of various member states are already in close cooperation,” he pointed out.

European army no competition for NATO

A European army in competition with NATO would fundamentally not be the right route to take, Nietan was convinced. There could only ever be compatible policy, he said. The USA was demanding stronger independent commitment from the EU in terms of security and defence policy – not only since the presidency of Donald Trump. “After the presidential election in the US we will see how our cooperation with our transatlantic friends continues to develop”, said the head of the German delegation at the IPC meeting. (hau/ 08.27.2020)

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