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Germany

Defense Minister Calls For Stronger European Defense Policy

In the opening speech at the Second European Defense Congress held in Berlin on Tuesday, Defense Minister Peter Struck called for the EU to refocus on its security and defense policy ahead of its planned expansion in May 2004, when the bloc adds ten new members. He also announced plans to monitor procurement and armament technologies within the German army, or Bundeswehr, stressing that it was crucial to maintain the operational readiness of Germany's armed forces. Struck reiterated that the EU was not interested in developing a defense agency duplicating NATO. He pointed out that NATO would remain the premier guarantor of security in Europe, despite a European initiative to create a separate planning cell which would allow operations to be conducted independently of NATO. The German defense minister said the trans-Atlantic relationship was based on the principle of sharing responsibilities, but that the U.S. had to accept that Europe will not always agree with Washington's policies.