Saturday, May 15, 2004

How we manage crises

From May 18 to May 27 the EU will be conducting its third crisis management exercise. No, this will not be another draft suggestion non-proposal working document on the Constitution by the Irish Presidency, but an exercise within the framework of the European Security and Defense Policy and will involve “Member States (Capitals and delegations), relevant EU Council instances, the Secretary General/High Representative, the European Commission and the Satellite Centre”.

No troops will be involved, possibly because there are no EU troops to involve. On the other hand it is slightly difficult to understand how the EU wants to improve its “crisis management structures, procedures and consultation arrangements, including the development of concepts of operation” if it does not accept that the first thing that must be done in a crisis is to defuse it and that might require the use of troops.

The idea is that the EU learns to deal with crises without needing to have recourse, i.e. run for help, to NATO, though it will always recognise “the primary responsibility of the UN Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and secuity”. And a good thing too. After all, the UN has a great deal of experience in these matters from Srebrenice to Rwanda, from DR Congo to Iraq with all stations in between.

The exercise will be conducted in Brussels and other national capitals. We await with bated breath the military and civilian exercise that involves all the high panjandrums but no troops on the ground.

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