Center for Strategic Decision Research


ESDI: A Defense Identity within the NATO Framework

His Excellency Janusz Onyszkiewicz
Minister of Defense of Poland


The answer to the question concerning whether or not Europe should take responsibility for its own defense is basically unclear. Europe, however, accepts the fact that NATO will continue to be the main defense organization in Europe and should maintain the appropriate capabilities. This fact is extremely important, not only because of certain existing situations, but also because without it European defense would be uncoupled from the United States. Poland believes it is essential to treat the United States as a European power and to maintain awareness in the U.S. of European interests and solidarity with Europe—not only politically but militarily as well.


Once we accept the fact that the main defense framework for Europe is NATO, we clearly must determine how to avoid duplication between European structures and structures that could be developed within NATO. This determination must be made within the framework of financial constraints that we all have and considering the budgetary problems we are going to face.

We must also determine how to handle those NATO countries that are not members of the European Union and those countries that are neither NATO countries nor EU countries but aspire to EU membership. Within the Western European Union a range of different memberships exists: Full Members, Associate Members, Observers, and Associate Partners. Associate Members are countries that are NATO members but not EU members; Associate Partners are countries that are neither members of the European Union nor NATO, but nevertheless have a certain status in the WEU. Before Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO, we were Associate Partners, and we valued this status very, very much. It was the only framework in which we could feel connected—although on a different level—with other countries. When the merger between the EU and the WEU takes place, we will have to decide what to do with these differently linked countries and how to create a situation in which their roles and involvement can be preserved. This is not a minor issue; if the status of non-EU countries is lowered, their only point of reference will be NATO, and this could be detrimental to the goal of creating a sense of involvement for all European countries concerning European security issues.


I would like to end my remarks by drawing your attention to another issue that I believe is important: the role of France in NATO and ESDI. I think that if the current trend of the French military growing closer to NATO military structures continues, the chances of creating a very good and efficient ESDI within NATO will improve. Greater involvement of the French military in NATO military structures will create harmony in the European military structure within NATO, and reflect the goals of the Amsterdam Treaty.




















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