Catherine Ashton, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said the EU will emphasize close coordination with the African Union. (European Union)
BRUSSELS — European Union foreign ministers agreed Jan. 20 on the principle of a military operation in the Central African Republic, under the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. The mission would work in conjunction with ongoing operations by France and the African Union.
“The military force would thereby contribute, within its area of operations, to international and regional efforts to protect the populations most at risk and would contribute to the free movement of civilians. All these efforts will create the conditions that are required in order to provide humanitarian aid for those who need it,” the foreign ministers said in a statement.
However, they stressed that the operation must be based on a United Nations Security Council resolution, and noted that establishing the operation will require a further council decision.
“Today, ministers agreed to a crisis management concept for the operation,” said Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, in a news conference. “It would work in the capital Bangui area for up to six months to assist existing international efforts in the protection of the people.
“We’re moving forward with operational planning under fast-track procedures,” she said. “Shortly, a team from the External Action Service will go to the region to ensure the closest possible coordination with our partners, in particular the African Union.”
“The operation will provide temporary support, for a period of up to six months, to help to achieve a secure environment in the Bangui area, with a view to handing over to the African Union,” the foreign ministers said. “This objective takes full account of UN Security Council Resolution 2127, and in particular of the possibility of MISCA [the African Union mission] being transformed into a UN peacekeeping operation.”
According to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the question of what contributions would come from which EU member states was not the heart of the debate. He said he is planning to discuss Germany’s possible contribution with the German defense minister on Jan. 21 before heading to Paris for discussions with French colleagues. ■