EU Defense Ministers Agree to Phase Out Peacekeeping Mission in Bosnia

Reading audio

02 October 2008

European Union Defense ministers have wrapped up a two-day meeting in
France focused on beefing up the bloc's defense capabilities and
looking at EU missions in Bosnia, Chad and elsewhere. For VOA, Lisa
Bryant has more on the talks from Paris.

EU ministers meeting in
the northern French city of Deauville agreed to phase out their
peacekeeping presence in Bosnia, although they did not set a deadline
to do so.

French Defense Minister Herve Morin called the
four-year-old peacekeeping operation a success. The 2,000-member
mission has been involved in military tasks in accordance with a deal
ending Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.  

Morin said several options were now on
the table, including phasing out the operation and turning the tasks
over to civilians and Bosnian soldiers.

Eight EU countries also
volunteered to create a maritime security force to fight piracy that
has been rampant off the coast of Somalia. In perhaps their most
audacious act, Somali pirates have boarded a Ukrainian ship carrying
arms. The maritime initiative still needs approval - probably during
another EU defense meeting in Brussels next month.

Morin also
said the EU ministers had made strides on ways to improve Europe's
military capabilities in cooperating more closely. Among other ideas,
they are pushing a plan to allow officers to study in military schools
across the 27-member block.