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Turkish military establishes contact with EU military body

The Turkish General Staff established formal contact with the European Union Military Committee (EUMC) for the first time on Wednesday when Turkish generals met with Brig. Gen. Dionigi Loria, head of the Logistics Directorate, EU Military Staff/Action Service, to discuss EU security strategies and to exchange information on other related topics.

Gen. Loria's visit with his Turkish colleagues took place upon an invitation from the General Staff, indicating a significant change in the Turkish military's former reluctance to meet with the European bloc's military staff. The EU is very interested in establishing a dialogue with the Turkish military. Turkey is a candidate member country to the bloc, though accession negotiations remain at a standstill despite efforts to revitalize them.

As a candidate member country and a member of NATO Turkey has already contributed troops to the EU's non-NATO peacekeeping operations, including the mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina codenamed Operation Althea; however, the meeting between the General Staff and Loria is intended to establish a platform for dialogue on all EU-Turkey military activities.

The European Council meeting in Nice, France, held in December 2000 led to the establishment of the EUMC with the aim of strengthening the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and in particular, the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) provided for in Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union.

The EUMC is the highest military body set up within the council. It directs all EU military activities and provides the Political and Security Committee (PSC) with advice and recommendations on military matters.

The fact that Ankara does not recognize Greek Cyprus as a state and that, therefore, the Greek Cypriot administration has been the sole representative of the divided island in discussions of EU-related military matters has hindered NATO-EU cooperation in peacekeeping operations.

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