As NATO exercise ‘Defender 2020’ get under way – with EU support under the ‘Military Mobility’ programme – German MEP Özlem Alev Demirel, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Security and Defence (SEDE) has described Europe’s largest military exercise in 25 years as unjustified and a waste of money.
Speaking from Ankara, she said:
“’Defender 2020’ will not only test the war readiness of the European road infrastructure, the German and Dutch governments will also remedy any ‘deficits’ along the way for the rapid deployment of troops and material to Eastern Europe. This comes under the EU’s ‘Military Mobility’ programme – one of the pillars of NATO-EU cooperation – by involving a heavy militarisation of the civil transport infrastructure, and which runs against public interest. In other words, instead of buses and trains, infrastructural priorities will be given to tanks and other military equipment.”
“Unfortunately, the EU is prepared to spend considerable sums on military infrastructure, with the Commission proposing to earmark no less than 6.5 billion euros for ‘Military Mobility’ in the next EU budget 2021 to 2027 (the MFF). Meanwhile, the budget for civil infrastructure will remain virtually unchanged and will actually represent a drop after adjustment for inflation.”
“The exercise will continue until May 2020, during which 20,000 American soldiers will be deployed across Europe towards the Russian border. Many other NATO manoeuvres will also be taking place at the same time with at least 37,000 soldiers involved.”
“‘Defender 2020’ is one of the largest military exercises in post-war history on European soil. It costs billions and is intended as a rehearsal for a real conflict. This immediately raises many questions about the prospects for peace in the future. Given the many political, financial and economic reasons to oppose these military exercises, many protests are currently being planned across Germany.”
“We implore the US, EU and NATO to stop the sabre rattling and focus more on diplomacy and disarmament. We, as citizens, must defend peace and stop any conflicts from happening,” Demirel concluded.