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15 December, 2000
The European Union will have its own armed forces, which will act in protection of human rights and security, while the EU itself will take decision for military action, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Thursday.
Simitis was speaking after a luncheon given in his honor by the Foreign Press Association in an Athens hotel, which was followed by a press conference.
Clarifying the EU's decision, Simitis said the European rapid reaction force will act autonomously and will cooperate with NATO in cases where the European force is not adequate.
He also said the whole process of decision making for the deployment of the force would be the exclusive operation of the Union, which will be in a position to hold talks with countries that are not EU members but are NATO members, such as Turkey, as well as with NATO itself.
Commenting on Turkey's participation in the European force, Simitis said Turkey cannot participate in the creation of the European force since it is not an EU member-state and the force is composed of member-states alone.
He said that likewise Cyprus cannot participate in the force's composition, but will be able to do so when it joins the EU.
Source: Athens News Agency