Central Europe to create a joint combat unit
Defence ministers from the Czech republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia signed a joint statement on May 4, pledging to create a 3000-strong combat unit for EU forces by early 2016. The unit, to be commanded by Poland, is set to have its first training in late 2015.
Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra called the agreement “a strong signal that the four central European countries are capable of taking on such a task without a great European power behind them”. Other EU states, however, are free to join. Slovak army chief Peter Vojtek confirmed that Austria has already expressed interest in sharing certain responsibilities with the group.
As a part of the deal, the four central European countries will coordinate their defence planning and public procurement of military equipment to lower their expenditures. They also vowed to continue joint military exercises after the end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, where they have deployed a total of 3600 personnel.
All four countries joined the EU and NATO in 2004. They formed the Visegrad group, or V4, in 1991 for the purpose of cooperation and further European integration.
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; 2006-10-17 Matrion Doss
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Original source: flickr.com