Hopes Rise of Eu-NATO Deal on Macedonia by End of November

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EU diplomats are expressing increasing confidence that a landmark deal between the European Union and NATO could be reached by the end of November, clearing the way for the EU to launch its first peace-keeping mission in Macedonia early next year. Officials say that progress is being made on ending the deadlock between Greece and Turkey which has been preventing an agreement with NATO over access to the alliance's assets. "The mood of the people working on this has become cautiously more upbeat", one EU official commented. Diplomats said that a deal could be announced at the NATO Summit in Prague on November 22 after the Turkish elections on November 3.

Athens has been insisting that the deal respects both the principle of reciprocity and the EU's autonomy over decision-making. In particular, it is demanding assurances that NATO will not be used in any mission against EU Member States after Ankara received guarantees that the EU's nascent Rapid Reaction Force would not be used against a NATO member. Officials admitted that the two sides' demands were "irrational" given the unlikelihood of any such attacks but the requests reflect the sensitivity of the two countries, especially in regard to the divided island of Cyprus. Greece also wants guarantees that the EU will retain full autonomy over decision-making related to military operations carried out under European Security and Defence Policy. Under ESDP, non-EU countries which contribute to military missions have the right to be involved in some aspects to decision-making, largely related to operational decisions. …