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External Relations - Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
The development of the economic integration process and the constantly expanding external action of the European Union, coupled with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the bipolar international system, opened up new paths for the European Union, and clearly demonstrated the need to supplement economic integration with a common foreign policy.
The Balkan crisis of the 1990s and the European Union's inability to address the situation in its immediate neighbourhood was a catalyst for the institutionalisation and development of the Common Foreign and Security Policy set down by the Maastricht Treaty, which entered into force in 1993.
Pursuant to article J.1 of the Treaty for the European Union, the objectives of the common foreign and security policy are: to safeguard the common values, fundamental interests and independence and integrity of the Union; to strengthen the security of the Union; to preserve peace and strengthen international security, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter as well as the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and the objectives of the Paris Charter, including those on the external borders. The European Union’s external action is aimed at the promotion of democracy, of the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the principles of equality and solidarity.
The CFSP has developed since Maastricht through a specialised system of particular bodies, common positions and joint actions.
The Treaty of Lisbon introduced significant institutional changes with regard to the CFSP. More particularly, the EU High Representative for the CFSP will chair the Council of External Relations and also hold the position of Vice-President of the European Commission. Lady Catherine Ashton (former UK Commissioner on trade issues) was elected as the Union’s High Representative for the CFSP. She will be assisted in the discharge of her duties by the External Action Service of the European Union. This new Service will be staffed with personnel from the European Commission, the Council’s Secretariat General, and member state diplomatic service employees.
With regard to the CFSP, the new Treaty provides for the six-month EU Presidency held by member states according to a rotating order to be replaced. The European Council is to have an elected President with a mandate of 2.5 years.
The mutual assistance clause is of particular importance within the framework of the CFSP, as it provides for the obligation of aid and assistance from the member states for any member state that is a victim of armed aggression on its territory. The new Treaty also introduces a solidarity clause which states that Member States are obliged to assist each other if one is the victim of a terrorist attack or a natural or man-made disaster.
B. Greece and the Common Foreign and Security Policy
Greece has always been a staunch supporter of the development of a Common Foreign and Security Policy for the EU, including the formulation of a common European defense. In this regard, Greece has actively participated in the entire evolutionary process of the EU over the last decade, placing particular emphasis on the need to bolster the Union with a credible and strong foreign and security policy, which should have at its disposal the necessary institutional framework, coherence and unity, along with vital operational tools, in order to underpin the role of the EU on the international scene.
In a spirit of firm community solidarity, our country takes part in CFSP initiatives and substantially contributes to the formulation of an EU foreign policy, Particularly in regions in its immediate neighbourhood (the Balkans, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the Caucasus region) with a view to eradicating current loci of conflicts, developing good neighbourly relations, and at consolidating peace and security.
The basic parameter of the CFSP, as shown by the European Security Strategy, is that the UN Security Council plays a principal role in preserving world security and peace, and this is also our country’s firm position. Of equal importance is the principle of the peaceful resolution of conflicts through international judicial institutions, international cooperation, economic development, democratic processes, and respect for human rights and civil liberties.
Particularly with regard to the CSDP, Greece supports the need for a comprehensive approach on addressing conflicts, and that the two aspects of ESDP (military and civilian) should develop in a parallel and balanced manner. At the same time, all instruments at the disposal of the European Union should be used in a cohesive manner.
Greece’s contribution to the development of European military and civilian crisis management capabilities is substantial, and our country thus ranks among the CSDP’s top supporters. Naturally, our country's participation in the CSDP does not in any way limit Greece's defense capabilities.
The principles and values on which the European Union has been built, respect for its institutional integrity and independent decision-making contribute to the promotion of a different approach to international affairs; an approach that gives added value to international efforts for peace and stability, rather than competing with existing security structures.