Athens to in­voke EU sol­i­dar­ity clause

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

As ten­sions with Turkey mount in the Aegean and the East­ern Mediter­ranean, Greece is re­port­edly seek­ing ways to activate a mu­tual as­sis­tance clause of the Eu­ro­pean Union’s Lis­bon Treaty in a bid to se­cure its bor­ders.

More specif­i­cally, Athens is call­ing on Brus­sels to in­ter­pret para­graph 7 of ar­ti­cle 42 in the treaty so as to make it clear that Greece’s sea bor­ders are also the bor­ders of the Eu­ro­pean Union.

The para­graph stip­u­lates that an EU coun­try can ask for the help of the other 26 mem­ber states if it comes un­der at­tack.

“The Union and its Mem­ber States shall act jointly in a spirit of sol­i­dar­ity if a Mem­ber State is the ob­ject of a ter­ror­ist at­tack or the vic­tim of a nat­u­ral or man-made dis­as­ter. The Union shall mo­bi­lize all the in­stru­ments at its dis­posal, in­clud­ing the mil­i­tary re­sources made avail­able by the Mem­ber States,” the clause says.

How­ever, that clause goes on to state that “should a Mem­ber State be the ob­ject of a ter­ror­ist at­tack or the vic­tim of a nat­u­ral or man-made dis­as­ter, the other Mem­ber States shall as­sist it at the re­quest of its po­lit­i­cal au­thor­i­ties.”

France was the first Eu­ro­pean Union coun­try to ask for the ac­ti­va­tion of the para­graph and that was in the wake of the deadly ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Paris in Novem­ber 2015.

Given that Paris has al­ready stressed the need to fur­ther boost Eu­ro­pean de­fense, Athens is bank­ing on the sup­port of France, along with that of other small coun­tries that would also like to see stronger su­per­vi­sion of their bor­ders, par­tic­u­larly on the Black Sea and the Mediter­ranean.

Of­fi­cials have clar­i­fied that Athens is by no means try­ing to un­der­mine NATO’s role in the pro­vi­sion of col­lec­tive de­fense and se­cu­rity to the Eu­ro­pean Union.

Rather, it is seek­ing to in­crease its op­tions in the face of ef­forts by coun­tries like Turkey that want to re­vise ex­ist­ing bor­der agree­ments.

More­over, the gov­ern­ment’s course of ac­tion is not in­tended to stand in the way of its ef­fort to strengthen ties with the United States – high­lighted by the Strate­gic Di­a­logue be­tween the two coun­tries that will take place in Wash­ing­ton on De­cem­ber 13.

Th­ese ties are also be­ing bol­stered by on­go­ing ef­forts to form a co­he­sive se­cu­rity and de­fense link be­tween Greece, Cyprus and Is­rael un­der the um­brella of the US.

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