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NATO Bucharest Summit Press Round-Up

The NATO Secretary General published an article in the latest NATO Review magazine released last week, where he outlines his priorities for the NATO Summit which is taking place in Bucharest, Romania from April 2-4.  In the article, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says there are four major issue areas that will be focused on at the Summit:

1) Operations (in particular Afghanistan)
2) NATO enlargement
3) NATO transformation
4) NATO partnerships 

While NATO as an organization has focused significant resources on these four areas, the media leading up to the summit has largely focused on three issues: whether or not a path to NATO membership will be offered by the Allies to Ukraine and Georgia; speculation on troop increases in Afghanistan; and whether or not France will fully reintegrate into NATO.

This article provides a media round up covering some of the main issues from the days leading up to this week’s Bucharest Summit.  The selected articles are not comprehensive, but should provide a decent framework to understand what some of the major chatter will be at the Summit.

OPERATIONS - Afghanistan

Bush to Meet NATO Allies Divided Over Adding Troops in Afghanistan Washington Post

France has signaled it will announce at this week's NATO summit that it will send another 1,000 troops to Afghanistan, while Britain plans to send about 800 more and Poland has already promised another 400. But Germany and others refuse to contribute additional ground forces, and the United States may have to increase its own commitment to make up the shortfall, U.S. and European officials and analysts said.

Canada to press for more troops in Afghanistan at NATO talks AFP:

Harper and his senior ministers have been lobbying their European counterparts of late to send at least 1,000 troops, drones and helicopters to bolster Canadian forces fighting insurgents in volatile Kandahar province… Canada's parliament voted earlier this month to extend its military mission in volatile southern Afghanistan to 2011, but only if its allies send reinforcements. Otherwise, Canada would exit at the end of its current mandate in February 2009.

France Faces Censure Over New Afghanistan Troops - DefenseNews

The French conservative government faced a censure motion April 1 in the lower house National Assembly from the Socialist Party, angry at President Nicolas Sarkozy's decision to send an extra 1,000 soldiers to serve in eastern Afghanistan.  The nonbinding motion reflects anger on the left at a lack of public debate over the reinforcement of French troops.

NATO Afghan force to get only some extra troops-US - Reuters

NATO leaders are likely to commit more troops this week to help fight Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan but the force will still fall short of what commanders want, the U.S. defense secretary said on Tuesday.  French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Paris might agree to send "a few hundred" more troops to bolster the 47,000-strong NATO forces in Afghanistan.  Leaders of the 26-member alliance meet in the Romanian capital Bucharest this week with the mission high on their agenda amid concern about rising violence, particularly in southern Afghanistan.

EXPANSION - Ukraine, Georgia, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia

Bush Supports Ukraine’s Bid to Join NATO - NYT

President Bush expressed strong support on Tuesday for Ukraine’s attempt to join the NATO alliance. His stand risked a diplomatic confrontation with Russia even as the administration sought an agreement with President Vladimir V. Putin over American missile defenses in Europe.  Mr. Bush spoke on the eve of a meeting of NATO leaders in Romania at a time when Ukraine’s hopes for putting itself on a clear path to membership appeared increasingly in doubt. Two strong NATO allies, France and Germany, have said they do not favor Ukraine’s membership, partly out of concern it would unnecessarily antagonize Russia.

Diplomatic Tussle over Georgia and Ukraine NATO BidsEUObserver

Germany and other western European states are attempting to block Georgia and Ukraine from getting the green light to join NATO out of a fear of antagonising Russia. At the 2-4 April meeting, Georgia and Ukraine are hoping to get approval for their membership action plans (MAP). This would be considered as a signal that their application bid is on the right track.  The camp of blocking states is said to include Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Luxembourg.

NATO to Invite New Members to Join Military AllianceVOA

Analysts say two countries will be invited to join: Albania and Croatia. But the status of a third country - Macedonia, officially know as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - is unclear. Robert Hunter, former U.S. ambassador to NATO in the Clinton administration, says Greece has threatened to veto Macedonia's membership.  "The Greeks are worried, because they have a province called Macedonia, and they are worried that maybe somebody is going to grab for that," he said.  "I think, this is something where the Greeks really need to recede and accept that a country can call itself what it wants, and better to have them in NATO than not. That should be resolved."


Defense transformation is a major focus within NATO, and as described by Scheffer: “This means the adaptation of NATO’s own structures and capabilities to the new security environment.”  For example, the Defense Investment Division at NATO focuses almost exclusively on capabilities transformation and procurement, especially as new kinds of capabilities are needed to fight against new enemies, such as terrorists. 

However, due to the technical and often convoluted nature of these capabilities programs, they are rarely discussed in the mainstream media… to get information on the Defense Against Terrorism program for example usually requires subscription to rather fancy (read: expensive) industry or defense publications, such as Jane’s Group.

At the same time, articles that explore the broader political and strategic role of NATO, as well as ponder existential questions, also fit under transformation.  Atlantic Review discusses these articles frequently (you can find many of them here), but for this collection I will limit it to two:

Is NATO Dead or Alive?The Huffington Post

64,000 allied soldiers are currently deployed on three continents - the highest op tempo in its history. Yes, there is plenty of grousing about troop commitments and caveats but the "facts on the ground" are that 26 NATO nations are operating together in a wide variety of military contingencies. But while much good is being done, NATO is actually doing far less than it should be doing… For several years, NATO's political and military leaders have had literally no time for strategic discussion or planning.

Globalize NATO? by Helle DaleThe Washington Times
What has to be thought through is whether NATO can "go global" without loosing the regional benefits it continues to provide in Europe. NATO still remains the strategic political and military link between the United States and Europe, and it continues to have a stabilizing effect on the European continent as a security guarantee for its new members. We should not lose sight of those core missions.

PARTNERSHIP RELATIONS - Russia, French full reintegration

NATO chief warns Russia against ‘unhelpful rhetoric’ AFP

NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer warned outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview published Friday against the use of "unhelpful rhetoric" at next week's NATO summit in Romania.  "Let's try to avoid unhelpful rhetoric, like 'We will target missiles on nations A, B and C'," Scheffer told the business daily.  "That is not only unhelpful but it makes me remember a time when I was growing up when there was a Berlin wall and an Iron Curtain ... So let us refrain from rhetoric."

Lavrov: Russia Still Opposes NATO Expansion, US Missile Defense Plans VOA

Russia's foreign minister again has expressed opposition to NATO expansion and U.S. plans for a missile defense system in central Europe.

Deficient Proposal National Review Online

If the Bush administration does decide to endorse the French plan for rejoining NATO’s command, agreeing to support an independent EU defense structure, it would represent a sea change in U.S. strategic thinking that would have a dramatic, negative impact on the future of the alliance.  It would shift the political balance of power within NATO away from Washington and London, and toward the main centers of power within the European Union: Paris, Berlin, and Brussels. Far from encouraging European countries from spending more on defense it would foster an even greater dependency culture within continental Europe upon NATO resources. It would lead to a duplication of the NATO command structure, without a doubling of manpower or material.

Morning Bell: What’s at Stake in BucharestThe Foundry (Heritage Foundation Blog)

What must be avoided at all costs is France’s one-time offer of additional troops for Afghanistan in exchange for U.S. and British backing of an independent European Union defense structure and a leading French role in NATO’s command structure. President Bill Clinton resisted a similar French effort to infiltrate NATO command in 1997 and Bush should do so again at Bucharest. France should only be welcomed back into integrated military NATO command structure when Paris affirms NATO supremacy in European defense and security.

The Path to Full Membership Spiegel Online
In Bucharest, Sarkozy hopes to initiate the return to a full-fledged position in the military alliance, where France's chair has been unoccupied since the days of President Charles de Gaulle. At the same time, he plans to use the high-level forum to announce, in a showy public performance, his country's stronger military commitment in Afghanistan… His pledge of military assistance is nothing if not calculated. "The president hopes that France's support of the NATO mission will lead, in return, to progress on the common European Defense Pact," says Etienne de Durand, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI), in Paris.


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franchie on :

well, I gone to stay diplomat, here is an analyse of the subject : [url=]NATO, in question[/url] I just read that Ukraine and Georgia didn't get the pass and that Sarko and Merkel will organise the next summit in 2009 ; so I think, we'll have to wait until then to have more infos about Nato future.

Zyme on :

There have been enough provocations towards Moscow in the last decade - and there is no need to include additional members into an alliance when that often is just considered to be the membership entry into the EU ! When it was high time for the EU to think about the desired level of integration, it continued to grow in size rather than in integration. Nato is going to make the same mistake. It´s a good thing to see that Central Europe has been blocking further enlargement.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Being a member of the EU affects domestic politics and the lives of ordinary people much more than being a member of NATO. Therefore I am sympathetic to the idea that it might be time for the EU to focus on growth by consolidation and integration, rather than on territorial growth. Besides, the US is neither a member of the EU, nor a prospective member, so we have very little say in the matter. In the case of NATO, the argument for limiting territorial growth is weaker, since it requires only military integration and little, if any, economic and social integration. The new members, and prospective new members, seem to be the only ones who accept that there are real threats in the world, and even, real threats to Europe; they are the sort of allies NATO needs in order to remain effective. Still, there may be a good argument to limit NATO growth for now. NATO integration is easier than EU integration, but it is still not easy. Ukraine and Georgia are at least headed towards democracy, while Russia runs away from it; but until we can be sure democracy is going to succeed in Ukraine and Georgia, we should perhaps look at other ways to help them before we offer NATO pre-membership (MAP). What I reject completely is the notion that Russia has any basis to claim these MAP questions are provocative. Words like "provocation" are totally inappropriate for a member of the so-called "G8". If another G8 member, Japan, were concerned about, lets suppose, an increase in US troops in S. Korea, would they claim we were provoking Japan? Of course not; they would find some other way to express the concern; "provoke" is simply not a word used between allies. The fact that Russia feels "provoked" by MAP for the Ukraine and Georgia, is an argument that we should dissolve the G8 and return to the G7, or else replace Russia with maybe India in the G8. It is not an argument against a MAP for Ukraine and Georgia.

Zyme on :

"In the case of NATO, the argument for limiting territorial growth is weaker, since it requires only military integration and little, if any, economic and social integration." If it really was about the military, would you even consider those countries worth to be taken into consideration? They are not even buffer states. If a strong neighbour was angry at them he could take them out in a matter of weeks. That is of course why they seek to have mighty allies - but that does not explain why others should welcome them as allies. "What I reject completely is the notion that Russia has any basis to claim these MAP questions are provocative. Words like "provocation" are totally inappropriate for a member of the so-called "G8". If another G8 member, Japan, were concerned about, lets suppose, an increase in US troops in S. Korea, would they claim we were provoking Japan? Of course not; they would find some other way to express the concern; "provoke" is simply not a word used between allies." How come you are so sensitive towards the russian usage of the word "provocation"? For example it can be considered a harsh provocation of the Americans when they bilaterally want to create a rocket defense in our neighbourhood without finding an agreement with Berlin and Paris. This is why even among official allies the american plans are opposed in Berlin. Face it - provocations can happen even among allied states. And they always lead to a decrease in bilateral relations. Now when german politicians are upsed about such plans, you can get the idea what the reaction will be in Moscow.

franchie on :

sure, it was already a big deal to absord the former URSS eastern Europe countries, no we have to consolid these ties ; Ukraine and Georgia aren't on our sphere influence ; why don't they try to search with Anatolie aeras, kinda some historic ties there !

Pat Patterson on :

Are you referring to the Anatolia? Why in the world would someone suggest opening membership to Armenia, Syria, Iran and Iraq and not Georgia? Besides not wanting to hurt Russia's feelings doesn't really make much sense considering Russia and its predecessor state are and were one of the biggest reasons for having a defensive alliance. The objections Russia has raised and sabers rattled have much more to do with domestic politics than any rational fear of being surrounded. If Russia wasn't perceived as a threat by its neighbors they would probably not be clamoring for NATO and I suspect a shift for, as Elisabetta suggested a few days ago, seperate defense compacts with the US.

Zyme on :

"Besides not wanting to hurt Russia's feelings doesn't really make much sense considering Russia and its predecessor state are and were one of the biggest reasons for having a defensive alliance." In fact it does make a lot of sense - because Russia´s predecessor state doesn´t exist anymore, and because we want to have different relations with today´s Russia than we had with the SU! "The objections Russia has raised and sabers rattled have much more to do with domestic politics than any rational fear of being surrounded." There is some truth in that - but by taking official russian concerns into account we also show respect for the russian interests. We have (rightly) hurt them in the Balkans with Kosovo, and now there is no need to hurt them again for nothing to entirely freeze our relationship.

franchie on :

Pat Paterson, yes, I was referring to Anatolia, saying there, that the Turks are also a Nato member that wants to integrate EU. Because of the commun antic history of these places : they have many more ressemblances together than with anyone of our EU country. Also in the link I provided, it is said that it is not the firs time that Nato surviving is discussed ; it was already on board with Bush's father, then with the Clinton's. Already Nato was envisaged as an european leading force. Apart the thin results of Rumania summit, there will not be some real news till next year.

Zyme on :

Franchie - wouldn´t your argumentation be easier to follow and more fruitful if you replied directly to the commenters that commented your posts instead of creating new posts? It is easy to lose track and causes a lot of disorder, if you don´t mind the criticism.

Noory on :

Anatolia is a small part of Turkey which is one of the reasons the people there call their country Turkey. Many of them think of their inland neighbors as hicks too.

Anonymous on :

I think the NATO Summit should be appreciated as a success by most participants. The Ukraine and Georgia were never going to be admitted on such short notice but the written promise of future membership is a coup for the Americans and a defeat for the Russians. France it seems will return to the fold and allowing France and Germany to orchestrate the next summit is a nice diplomatic bone The greatest failure has to be the Macedonian question? WTF. Greece’s reasoning can not be solely the name, can it? Greece didn’t veto Albania and a resurgent Albania constitutes a greater threat to security in the southern Balkans than little Macedonia? SPON's treatment of the NATO summit was horrendous. At times, its like reading Frankfurter Rundschau

franchie on :

"I think the NATO Summit should be appreciated as a success by most participants", anyway on Bush'side it is ; apparently the missiles problematic reached a global agreement. I also read that Greece argues because of the very name "Macedonia", that she says belongs to Greece history [url=]Macedonia[/url] or is it because of the former nineties conflicts there that are officially resolved, but still not in the minds ? In resumé, if I were in charge, I am for Croatia joining Nato, and by extension EU (cause the next deal is, will Nato become an EU force), not for Albania nor Macedonia, that have etnies problems and gangs

Joe Noory on :

Intersting... will we then not be permitted to say that the Americans, Canadians, Norwegians, Slovenians, and Turks are their "Colonial reserve divisions"?

franchie on :

joe is it your favorite role, "avocat du diable" ?

Joe Noory on :

Are you so convinced of your own intellect that anyone who doesn't agree with you is that "diable"? Look - your facts, such as imagining that the CCP had submarines during WW2, thinking that France's re-entry into NATO makes them an American vassal when the entire construct makes an the prospect of violence on or in Europe an attack on America when the opposite would never be the case... Thinking that Bush promoted the name "Macedonia" when the Greeks childishly hang up resolution on an open war on their border for a decade which have nothing to fear from a name and future fellow EU `member, etc. You have opinions and a world view. Promote it. Don't imagine that history and the world around you can be made to adapt to that view to support it. All this tells me that I should really feel good that people feel so safe that they will let themselves entertain these sandbox ideas and loony logic. The alliance has succeeded. So much so that a population can without any fear of the future ignore the landmines in the geopolitical landscape.

franchie on :

actually, what do you want to tell, that my sources are not "clean" ? so sorry if they are not yours ; might be some real conceit for the gauls ; that's true, we still fear that the sky might fall on our heads, see there, the earth is flat and the world is revolving around us...

Nanne on :

The French troop contribution to Afghanistan is unclear. [url=]Reuters[/url] says they'll pledge 700, which would be a disappointment as the rumoured number was about 1000. It will not put much pressure on other countries to come up with more.

franchie on :

that isn't quit clear yet ; dunno if by 700 he only means troops, and that the left 300 would be of special forces

Nanne on :

A lot has become clear very quickly. NATO expansion is limited to Croatia and Albania, so that is a big blow for Bush. On the other hand, America did get [url=]NATO backing[/url] for its vaporware missile defense launch site in Poland and the connected radar site in the Czech Republic (which, I've gathered, is at least as important). So it is not a total wash for Bush.

Lusitan on :

Greece´s problem with Macedonia isn´t just the name... they´re afraid that Macedonia, because of the name, could make territorial claims on the Greek province of Macedonia. The EU can´t yet afford to upset a military power like Russia, thus the refusal of Georgias and Ukraines application by France and Germany. Since the EU has plans to expand in to the Balkans (historicaly within Russia´s sphere of influence) they have no need to create further problems by allowing former Soviet Black Sea countries to join NATO. When the Balkans are fully integrated in the EU, then we will probably see further developments in the Ukraine and Georgia department.

Zyme on :

I fully agree.

franchie on :

"they´re afraid that Macedonia, because of the name," precisely that name was given by Bush without consulting the other Nato members there ; Macedonia sent troops in to Irak, a reward then (said in the link I provided)

bashy on :

I believe they were calling it macedonia back in the 90's. didn't all the kosovo albanians go there when nato started it's bombing campaign.

franchie on :

"four years were needed before the American negotiator Robert Holbrooke, in charge of the Balkans, started the work of mediation between Greece and Macedonia and was proposing a compromise to end the dispute of the name. The Macedonian State must now be called "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia". Irony of history, the States-2003 Irony of history, The US officially acknowledged the name "Macedonia Republic" after that Macedonia promissed to send troops into Irak in 2003" cf Euro Village "Macedonia"

Joe Noory on :

So - what you're saying is ty3 even though that Macedonia was the name that Tito gave them, and the population refuses to change it, that it's.... ...Bush's fault. That's truly original and inspired.

Pat Patterson on :

The arguments over the name Macedonia might indeed have much to do with current notoins of national pride but being the descendent state of Alexander the Great also has some significance as a tourist destination. Yet as much as a I sympathize with the Macedonians the birthplace of Alexander, Epirus, is in Albania.

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