From Zaman: 2009 is a landmark year for the European Union’s role in the world.

It marks 10 years of European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), during which the EU became a global provider of security, making a real difference to people’s lives all over the world. At the same time, we are on the threshold of a new era when the Lisbon Treaty enters into force and provides fresh impetus for our external action.

In 10 years, we have deployed 20 operations on three continents to help prevent violence, restore peace and rebuild after a conflict. From Kabul to Pristina, from Ramallah to Kinshasa, the EU is monitoring borders, overseeing peace agreements, training police forces, building up criminal justice systems and protecting shipping from pirate attacks. Thanks to our achievements, we are receiving more and more calls to help in a crisis or after a war. We have the credibility, the values and the will to do this….

This year the EU has 12 operations running concurrently — more than ever before. Since 2003, some 70,000 men and women have been deployed in 23 crisis-management operations. They come from EU member states and non-EU countries that also take part in our operations, including Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine, Turkey and the United States.

Of these 23 missions, six have been military and the other 17 civilian. We deploy army or navy personnel when and where they are needed but our business is peace building not waging war. The EU is not a military alliance. The solution to any crisis, emergency or conflict must always be political, and our ESDP actions are always firmly anchored in political strategies, formed by consensus.

Excerpts of text by Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. (photo: German Foreign Office)