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In the News
Last Updated: 12/15/2003EU defence and NATO
*Much to the dismay of the USA, Britain-Germany-France reveal talks about military independence from NATO. *Meanwhile Lord Roberston gets ready to leave NATO for private business (deputy chairman of Cable and Wireless), while the Secretary-General elect, foreign minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer from the Netherlands, prepares to take over.
BRITAIN-GERMANY-FRANCE FLEX MILITARY MUSCLE
In the last two or three weeks Britain, France and Germany have been dallying with an alternative defence arrangement to NATO
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has backed Prime Minister Tony Blair's agreement with France and Germany to boost EU defence capabilities.
Speaking in Naples on Saturday (29 November 2003), Mr Straw denied the plans represented a threat to the pre-eminence of Nato.
In what was seen as a surprisingly subdued appearance in Brussels, Mr Rumsfeld said he had been convinced that Nato's European members would not undertake initiatives that would duplicate the work of the alliance.
The US is worried about plans brokered by Britain to create a 30-strong EU "planning cell" attached to military staff in Brussels, and for an EU "mutual defence guarantee".
Britain, negotiating with France and Germany on defence issues in the new union constitution, is adamant that the facility would be used only if Nato or national headquarters were not involved in a crisis.
After all the debate, secret briefings and public evasions of the past week, the nature of the European Union's defence plans remain as baffling as ever.
The new head if NATO is third Dutchman in the post
Jakob Gijsbert (Jaap) de Hoop Scheffer was born in Amsterdam on 3 April 1948. After completing his secondary education, he studied law at Leiden University, graduating in 1974. From 1974 to 1976 he performed his military service in the Royal Netherlands Air Force and was discharged as a reserve officer.
Lord George and the private sector
Lord George Robertson, a Scot and former Labour Party politician in the UK, leaves after four years of masterminding NATO expansion eastward and overseeing the first NATO peace-keeping force in Europe (Macedonia). He takes up the post of deputy Chairman of Cable and Wireless, a major telecommunications multinational based in the UK. He will be responsible for overseeing and developing relationships with the foreign governments in the countries where CW operates. Something of a change from the whisky industry a former key concern of his.
George Robertson was Member of Parliament for Hamilton (latterly Hamilton South) from 1978 to 1999. On 24 August 1999 he received a life peerage and took the title Lord Robertson of Port Ellen. He became Secretary of State for Defence in May 1997, until his departure in October 1999. In August 1999, he was selected to be the next Secretary General of NATO, in succession to Dr Javier Solana.
For official biography, see: http://store.yahoo.com/expandnato/lordrobertson.html