Estonia careful assessing benefits of joint EU military headquarters
At an unofficial meeting in Bratislava on Tuesday, the European Union’s defense ministers will discuss proposals to strengthen defense cooperation between EU member states. So far, Estonia has been careful regarding the proposal to set up an EU military headquarters.
According to Defense Minister Hannes Hanso (SDE), Estonia supports the closer cooperation of European countries, a press release of the Ministry of Defense read.
“The European Union’s military operations, in which Estonia also participates, are a good example of how European states can assert themselves together in the field of security,” Hanso was quoted saying ahead of the meeting. “If creating a military headquarters allows EU member states to make defense cooperation more efficient, the proposal is worth considering,” Hanso added.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told BNS in mid-September that Estonia wanted to analyze the proposal more closely to create an EU headquarters for foreign operations before it would publish its position.
“We of course support strengthening the European Union’s defense capability in principle. Including the utilization of EU battlegroups, as well as measures which would make using them more likely, for instance increasing joint funding so that the burden is not only on countries that are ready,” spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sandra Kamilova, told BNS. “Or raising the EU’s readiness by increasing defense expenses of member states,” she added.
“But the topic of establishing a headquarters for foreign operations needs more thorough analysis, so regarding that issue, we are not in a hurry to get to a position,” Kamilova said.
At present, the EU’s military operations are coordinated from five national headquarters in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Greece. Germany and France have proposed merging the leadership of missions in a single central headquarters.
According to Defence Minister Hanso, Estonia’s position is that all new initiatives proposed in the EU regarding defense need to offer a clear additional value to cooperation in NATO. “The European Union should not duplicate what NATO does,” Hanso pointed out.