EU Member Nations Sign Defense Pact

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini

On Monday, around 20 other European Union member states will sign the declaration, Polish Press Agency (PAP) reported Friday.

The pact, which has been in the works for more than a year, is part of efforts led by Germany and France to push closer defense ties as a way of rebooting the bloc after Britain's referendum to leave.

Membership of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) initiative will present an opportunity for Slovakia to bolster its defence capabilities, both for national purposes and in meeting its worldwide commitments, said Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) who signed an intention for Slovakia to join PESCO along with State Secretary for Foreign and European Affairs, Ivan Korčok, in Brussels on November 13. Denmark and Britain, which have a special opt-out status, are not expected to participate.

The new initiative aims to spend more on defense systems and make member countries' militaries much more integrated with each other.

PESCO will not compete with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, as the latter specialises in collective defence, whereas bolstered defence cooperation among Europeans is created to ensure that the EU can respond to various situations overseas in a more prompt and efficient manner, claim European diplomats.

"It was important for us, especially after the election of the American President, that we can organise ourselves independently as Europeans", German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.

The agreement commits countries to "regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms" as well as devoting 20 per cent of defence spending to procurement and 2 per cent to research and technology.

Joining PESCO will be an important step for Estonia from the perspective of defense policy, as it enables Estonia to participate in further developing European Union defense cooperation. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel stressed it would have economic benefits.

The 23 countries that announced their intention to take part in the new initiative are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

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