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NATO Sec Gen Calls for More EDA-NATO Cooperation

Sep. 30, 2011 - 03:45AM   |  
By JULIAN HALE   |   Comments
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BRUSSELS - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called for greater cooperation between NATO and the European Defence Agency (EDA) to reduce costly duplication of effort.

Speaking at a European Policy Centre event here Sept. 30 looking ahead to the alliance's Chicago summit next year, Rasmussen said that "in a time of economic austerity and in a long-term perspective, we should avoid duplication and waste of money. We should coordinate and merge some projects."

Asked how industry could help, he said that "military equipment is becoming more and more expensive" and that "industry could help by ensuring prices don't rise so fast."

He also said opening up defense markets, as the European Commission is trying to do with a new European Union defense procurement directive, could help.

Complicated political problems prevented agreements on EU-NATO security arrangements in theater, he said, and these were generally resolved on "an ad hoc basis." The EU and NATO can only officially consult on Bosnia and cannot discuss Afghanistan, Libya and Kosovo operations, he said. "We know that the Cyprus dispute is at the origin of this and don't expect rapid progress on this," he said.

He urged Russia to "cooperate actively" in NATO's missile defense shield project. Specifically, he said he envisages a NATO and a Russian missile defense system with two joint centers through which data could be exchanged and joint threat assessments produced.

"We have no intention to attack Russia and I don't think Russia intends to attack us," he said, referring to a 1997 agreement in which both sides agreed not to use force against each other. He went on to describe a NATO-Russia summit at Chicago in 2012 as "an option" but that depends on "real substance and concrete results to deliver."

Regarding out-of-area operations, he said NATO had "no intention to intervene in Syria or other countries." In the case of Libya, there was a U.N. mandate and strong support from the region for NATO action, he said, but "neither condition was fulfilled for Syria or any other country."

NATO's core purpose is territorial defense of its member states, he said, but it "stands ready to protect our territories and populations if conflicts emerge."

Cyberspace is clearly emerging as a growing NATO priority.

"Defense of our territories may start beyond our territories, even in cyberspace," he said. On Sept. 20, NATO's Command, Control and Communications Agency launched a 28 million euro ($37.7 million) call for cyberdefense procurement. Rasmussen referred to cyberdefense and strategic transport as being among the priorities to be unveiled in his proposals for pooling and sharing among NATO countries, known as his "smart defense package."

Cybersecurity, he said, might be an area where NATO would consult with partner countries with specific expertise and which share the same security concerns. "This will be done on an ad hoc basis," he said.

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