Friday, 04 June 2021 19:00
Estonian Life No. 22 2021 - Toomas Lukk
In today’s geopolitical realm the arc of instability spans from the Middle East to North Africa and from Asia to the Americas. The world faces threats of terrorism, climate change, refugee crises, covid-19 pandemic, and also irresponsible and destabilizing behaviors of authoritarian regimes.
On May 6th 2021, the Ministers of Defense of the European Union accepted the request of the United States, Canada and Norway to participate in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) Military Mobility project. PESCO is the part of the European Union's security and defense policy, a strategic platform that pursues the structural integration of the national armed forces.
Ministers of Defense meeting in September 2017, in Tallinn (Estonia), during the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, paved the way for launching PESCO in December of that same year, and the PESCO Military Mobility project in 2018. The prelude to this decision was the changing security environment, which stimulated efforts to enhance cooperation of developing defense capabilities.
Over the last decade, Russia has proven to be the single biggest source of instability in Europe. Russia’s war against Georgia in 2008 exposed its aggressiveness and indicated the changing security environment in Europe. Illegal Russian annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Eastern Ukraine in 2014 opened a new geopolitical chapter shifting from peaceful post-Cold War years in Europe to a more turbulent stage.
Russia, however, uses NJET=NO or total denial policy, well expressed in Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s derisive comment to Interfax on May 6th, regarding the EU’s decision to impose restrictive measures against Russia as “illegal and for no reason”.
The recent escalation of tensions on the Ukrainian border and in the Black Sea, clearly show that challenges are no longer limited to the military sphere. The challenges spill over into the information, technological, economic, and other domains attempting to impact domestic and foreign audiences.
The developing security situation in Europe requires an adequate response, new tools and approaches. The EU, expanding beyond traditional territory, advances its defense capabilities and reinforces the European pillar within NATO. NATO, strengthening its response to disinformation, terrorism and cyber-attacks, bolsters the EU’s activities in the civilian domain. NATO remains the cornerstone of the Trans-Atlantic security.
Military mobility, however, is a major factor for the credibility of European defense in response to this changing security environment. Participation of Canada, USA and Norway, key NATO and European partners, in PESCO’s work constitutes a vital development significantly augmenting the transatlantic bond and contributing to the EU and NATO cooperation. The PESCO projects also include cooperation in other areas such as medical services, training, cyber response, disaster relief, maritime and space surveillance, and intelligence. The PESCO Military Mobility project advances preparedness, resilience and interoperability. The majority of PESCO projects respond to NATO priorities.
For Canada, NATO and the European Union play a central role in its foreign policy. NATO is Canada’s most important multilateral security ally and the European Union is Canada’s strategic partner. Thus, Canada welcomed the EU’s decision allowing third-party participation in PESCO and expressed satisfaction with the possibility to work closer with European partners.
Canada’s strategic interests in Europe began long before NATO or the European Union were established. During the two World Wars, Canada’s men and women sailed across the Atlantic to defend Europe. After the occupation of Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union, Canada became a destination for refugees. Since then, many Europeans have found new homes in Canada, and gone on to contribute to its history and success.
PESCO’s ambition is to become an “instrument to foster common security and defense” providing Europe with “a coherent full spectrum force package, in complementarity with NATO”. Extending the invitation for participation to the key partners increases the effectiveness of military partnerships, improves logistical capabilities, and bolsters conventional deterrence. Partners’ input will help PESCO to reach its potential and goals.
Canada stands firmly with its European partners. Thus, Canada and Europe are entwined in their past and future.Toomas Lukk
, Ambassador, Republic of Estonia