Tuesday, 22 March

left-red-arrowThe NATO Defence Ministers Summit was convened yesterday in Brussels and important decisions regarding the future of the Alliance were taken. The Minister of Defence, Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, attended the Summit.

The Defence Ministers made decisions about the geographical determination of the Joint Force Commands and of other staff entities for NATO’s New Command Structure, under the framework of the Lisbon Summit of last November. The New Command Structure is simpler and is adapted to the fiscal situation of all the Alliance’s member-states.

One of the most important changes being introduced by the New Command Structure is the elimination of the Component Command Air Izmir (CC-AIR) and its substitution by an Allied Land Forces Command which is being transferred from Spain. The sole Component Command Air (CC-AIR) will be based in Germany (Ramstein), while the only Component Command Maritime (CC-MAR) will be based in the United Kingdom (Northwood).

In the domain of air operations only two CAOCs (Combined Air Operations Centers) –out of the seven currently in operation- will remain, those of Uedem (Germany) and Torrejón (Spain), while the Deployable CAOC is being transferred from Holland (Millingen) to Italy (Poggio Renatico).

In addition to the Command Structure entities, the entities of the Force Structure are included in NATO’s unified military command in which Greece participates with Larissa’s CAOC, the NDC-GR (Third Army Corps – Thessaloniki) and the Maritime Interdiction Center (Chania). It is noted here that Larissa’s CAOC will be operating under permanent Greek command and not under an alternate Greek and Turkish command, as had been agreed to by Greece in early 2009.

The geographical determination of the units of the New Command Structure is the result of a long and laborious consultation and negotiation lasting from the end of the Lisbon Summit until yesterday. Greece was actively involved in this negotiation with the Defence Minister, Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, being in constant contact with NATO’s Secretary General Mr. Rasmussen. Bilateral consultations also took place in numerous occasions. Greece’s strategic goal, as Mr. Venizelos has repeatedly made clear in Parliament, was to avoid unnecessary provocations in our region, provocations that create artificial or technical problems and, therefore, variations in relation to what is the norm in other Alliance regions.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

NATO’s Libya operation

NATO’s Defence Ministers Summit decided to extend for another 90 days the Alliance’s operation in Libya. As Mr. Venizelos pointed out during the Summit NATO, having learned [its lessons] from the absence of an “entry strategy” in the Libyan crisis, must immediately process an overall exit strategy, through a viable political solution within the framework of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, in close cooperation with the Arab League and the African Union.

Mr. Venizelos repeated the Greek proposal that Crete be designated as the hub for the humanitarian operation that must be deployed in the aftermath of military operations under the UN aegis, with the participation of the EU and with NATO providing a merely supporting role.

NATO-Russia Council

Within the framework of NATO’s Defence Ministers Summit, the NATO-Russia Council convened –with the participation of the Defence Minister of the Russian Federation- for the first time since 2008 and the crisis with Georgia.

The re-activation of this Council is an important step, following the positive effect that Russian President Medvedev’s presence in Lisbon last November has had.

Tags: Press Conferences