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NATO Summit: an unfocused family picture

de V.O.
Vineri, 4 aprilie 2008, 10:58 English | Top News

Macedonia was not invited to join NATO, Georgia and Ukraine have not received a Membership Action Plan, NATO will deploy additional troops in Afghanistan and the US shield will be supplemented by a NATO shield to protect allies from the southern flank. These are the decisions of a "family" that looks a bit dysfunctional as the end of the NATO Summit in Bucharest draws near. As in any family, its members are fighting and disagree with each other, but they show up smiling for the group picture.

The second day of the NATO Summit - which was also the first to be marked by relevant decision making - has already lead to a polarized stage where one would describe the situation in winners and losers. Bush was defeated in Bucharest, the international media believes, while Putin was the big winner even before he landed on the Otopeni Airport. THe German media believes that NATO gathered for squabbling in Bucharest, while French journalists underline the emergence of two different points of view within the alliance, as Bush's allies are said adieu.

No MAP for Georgia and Ukraine

Georgia and Ukraine have not received a MAP. The days before the summit, Americans were refusing to answer the question what would happen should the two countries fail to receive a MAP? They would - they used to say full of confidence.

Bruce Jackson, an influential ally for the Republican presidential candidate, said on Wednesday that the position of Germans and French could be changed. On the other hand, former Russian PM Mikhail Kasyanov said Thursday morning, before the official NATO announcement on the two countries, that Georgia and Ukraine would not receive the MAP in Bucharest but that it was a question of time - from six months to a year - until a decision is made in this regard.

Then came Romania President Traian Basescu to announce that the NATO foreign ministers would analyze in December 2008 whether the two countries fulfill the criteria to receive MAPs.

Basescu underlined that unlike Romania's case, which back in Madrid the NATO Council adopted a statement saying Romania would join the Alliance IF it proves prepared, in Bucharest the formula was changed: Georgia and Ukraine would receive the MAPs WHEN they would be ready.

Analysts believe Russia reached its target: it prevented the NATO enlargement towards its borders, despite Western arguments that it was in its favor to have democracies and stable, predictable states along its borders.

For the past two weeks one could hear repeatedly that Vladimir Putin would not come to Bucharest unless he was sure that Georgia and Ukraine would not receive a MAP. Then, on Thursday, the timing of his arrival was rather slippery - it was said he would land in Bucharest at noon, then in the late afternoon, then in the evening. He eventually landed at 8.30 P.M., after his Foreign minister Lavrov had already arrived. Was it that Putin waited for an official announcement on Georgia and Ukraine before departing for Bucharest?

The voice of the small

On another note, Macedonia was not invited to join NATO because of Greece's objections about its name. NATO confirmed on Thursday that for a Balkan state there are a lot of answers for Romeo's question "What's in a name?".

Macedonian journalists were so upset they left NATO Secretary General Scheffer's conference when he announced the decision. Upset were Skopje officials as well. Greece opposed their NATO accession because of the name, using its NATO member state veto right to prevent an invitation. Basescu noted on the occasion that the situation proved how a small country such as Greece may have a voice within the Alliance. We're all equal, was his message.

What next for Afghanistan

Meanwhile, Afghanistan is a failure, according to analysts from Russia, the US or elsewhere. Drug trafficking is blooming, a people living as if in the Middle Ages cannot be brought to modern days in just a couple of years, the country is unable to provide for its own security. On the other hand, arguments show that Afghanistan has already built democratic institutions, forces of law and order, an army that goes through training to improve its security and fight against drug trafficking.

Canada urged immediate help in Southern Afghanistan and Sarkozy announced France would send 1,000 troops there. The amount later became 800, but the final agreement was signed for 700. The Unites States are on top again: they're sending 3,500 troops as announced before the summit. On Thursday, it was not said whether they counted among the several thousands announced in Bucharest as a contribution of 12-13 countries.

Romania has one company available, PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu said, adding that he would like to see other countries joining Romania in such an attitude. And one more announcement was made: Romania would open a diplomatic mission to Kabul by 2009, just to show that it really cares.

On or under the missile shield?

For now, we're on the missile shield, as those less lucky at war. But NATO decided on Thursday the construction of a missile shield system complementary to that of the United States. The Council decided it should have a broad coverage of the whole territory of the Alliance, including those parts that are not covered by the US shield. For now, some 20% of the NATO territory, including almost the whole of Romania, is not protected by the US shield.

Vladimir Putin has yet to speak up in this regard, though. The situation would not be fully dealt with in Bucharest - or what would Putin and Bush speak in Sochi?

Other issues dealt with by NATO:

  • NATO calls in the final statement of its Bucharest Summit for Russia to return to the CFE Treaty
  • The Allies have put up a report on the NATO role in energy security involving the Alliance in information exchanges, regional cooperation, protection of energy infrastructures and others.
  • Montenegro and Bosnia-Hertegovina moved on from an intensified dialogue with the Alliance while Serbia did not ask to join NATO.
  • The Black Sea has a dedicated chapter in the final statement, which notes the progress in regional consolidation by using existing initiatives and mechanisms efficiently there.

But the last day of the Summit is expected to be the most spectacular, no matter of Putin's attitude. His coming to Bucharest by itself makes all believe a show would go on.

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