SHAPE NEWS SUMMARY & ANALYSIS 15 MAY 2002
- It came out at Reykjavik Tuesday that after the planned enlargement round in the fall, the Alliance does not intend to accept more candidates, writes Die Welt. According to the article, European NATO circles said, on the sidelines of the NATO ministerial meeting, that "the next round of accession will probably be the last one for a very long time." This does not exclude a possible membership of individual states, but a third enlargement package is neither planned nor possible. Militarily, NATO has not yet fully coped with the first enlargement round in 1999. Particularly, the European NATO partners fear that a boundless alliance could overstretch and become incapable of acting in the end, the sources reportedly added. The newspaper observes that the statement that the enlargement series should end here shows a difference between the Europeans and the Americans. While the latter consider an enlargement of the Alliance as far as Central Asia--all this under the primacy of the global fight against terrorism--the Europeans want to maintain NATOs operational defense structure. They also warn about the danger of NATO becoming an overarching forum for discussion, like the OSCE, says the newspaper.
Coverage of the Reykjavik meeting continues to focus on the establishment of stronger ties between NATO and Russia. Some media hail the creation of a new NATO-Russia Council as the most significant change in the Alliances history.
Under the title, "The New Alliance," The Times writes that the new cooperation agreement is the most far-reaching change in the Alliance since it was founded in 1949. The consequences are momentous, comments the newspaper, noting: The further expansion of NATO to take in more of the former Warsaw Pact members will no longer be in the teeth of Russian opposition. Instead of threatening to decrease stability by heightening European tensions, enlargement can now do what its advocates intended: bring security, stability and ultimately greater prosperity to Central and Eastern Europe.
"New beginning for NATO and Russia," says Frances Le Figaro, while Italys Corriere della Sera writes: "Russias Putin sets a foot into NATO."
NATO Tuesday elevated Russia to the role of equal partner in setting policy from counter-terrorism to arms proliferation and peacekeeping. Russia will be treated as an equal partner and its officials will have an office in the NATO headquarters in Brussels, notes The Daily Telegraph.
The agreement between Russia and NATO marks one of the most fundamental shifts in European security since the collapse of communism 12 years ago, writes The Guardian, warning, however: "While Lord Robertson Tuesday repeatedly stressed NATOs transformation and western officials said that the Alliance was acquiring a fresh lease of life after years of agonizing over its raison detre, many analysts take the view that paradoxically the great rapprochement with its historical enemy could also sound the death knell for NATO as a war-fighting machine and military alliance. Several factors combine to produce the view that NATO is on a life-support machine: Allowing Russia partial membership; continuing expansion into poor and weak eastern European countries which bring more liabilities than assets to the Alliance; under-spending in European defense budgets and the yawning technological gap with America; and most significantly, the U.S. Republican Administrations preference for ad hoc coalitions of the willing rather than formal military allies."
A statement in a communiqué issued by NATO foreign ministers in Reykjavik Tuesday that "we all need to have highly mobile, sustainable forces with modern combat capabilities, forces that can get to the fight wherever it is" is interpreted as a sign that NATO has opened the door to missions far beyond its own Euro-Atlantic area.
Ministers approved a communiqué pledging to improve their military abilities and compatibility and declaring that NATO must be able to field forces that can move quickly to wherever they are needed. In doing so, they acknowledged that the Alliance now faced unpredictable threats far afield from Europe, even as some have questioned its continued relevance because the United States made only selective use of the members forces in the Afghanistan campaign, writes the New York Times.
The foreign ministers acknowledged that new threats mean NATO missions could be executed out of Alliance territory, says a related AP dispatch.
La Libre Belgique remarks that NATO agreed Tuesday to acquire "new capabilities" for the fight "against the threat of terrorism" and this for as long as it takes. That, stresses the daily, includes forces capable to deploy wherever they are needed. The article further says that as a whole the 19 NATO members are determined to use the organization to fight terrorism.
In an interview with Frances Le Monde, NATO Secretary General Robertson calls on politicians to explain that investments are needed in the defense field.
"Sometimes we must continue to pay an insurance policy, even if we have no accidents," says Lord Robertson, adding: "We must no longer spend money to protect ourselves against Russia but to be able to intervene wherever crises are occurring, before they reach us. Therefore, it is important for politicians to explain that we must invest in the defense field. Today we are committed to conflict prevention and the resolution of crises. We must remember that immigration is an essential problem . Immigrants generally come from conflict zones. Last year, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a country of 2 million inhabitants, merely 50 people were killed but 170,000 were displaced and 50 percent of them flew out of the country. Our intervention prevented the number to climb to half a million." While stressing that NATO is not a global police organization and does not have to organize "police patrols" throughout the world, Lord Robertson continues: " Member nations can only decide to intervene if they have the capability to do so: we must be ready, which means be ready to intervene further and further . We must adapt permanently, be always ready in an unpredictable and irrational world. This is why the Prague summit will be the summit of transformation, not only an enlargement summit." Asked whether Europe must spend more for its defense, Lord Robertson replies: "The airplanes and terrorists who destroyed the twin towers in Manhattan might just as well have destroyed the Eiffel tower or Big Ben. They were attacking a system and they are still there, with the same destructive ambitions. If people believe that the threat has disappeared, the awakening risks being terrible. The war against terrorism must continue. Investing in defense is equipping oneself with an insurance policy to prevent crises from developing at our doorsteps."
A commentary in Italian daily La Stampa stresses meanwhile that the accord between Russia and NATO which is being prepared for signing in Rome establishes a framework of political cooperation, not a military framework; thus it highlights the political direction in which the Alliance as a whole is moving. " For NATO to remain also a valid military tool in the face of the new local and global challenges, it is necessary first and foremost for the Europeans to believe in the terrorist threat in the same way as the United States believes in it; and second, it is necessary for them to invest in their military budgets fully three times as much as they invest todayand this, over quite a few years. Certainly no one can take it for granted that the European governments are prepared to go to such lengths," says the newspaper.
A commentary in the Wall Street Journal makes recommendations on "how a radical overhaul" promised by NATO ministers in Reykjavik ought to look over the coming months. According to the article, NATO must beef up on counter-terrorism. The NATO force structure in general is still too focused on the Fulda Gap. The Alliances one elite rapid-reaction corps, which can be moved without hours anywhere in the world, should be a model. SHAPE headquarters must be retooled to better address "asymmetrical" threats. NATO must be given the lead in cleaning up failed states, possibly worldwide. Postwar Kosovo and Bosnia show NATO can do the job well. NATO should probably be put in charge of the long-term mission in Afghanistan. NATO has strayed "out of area" before; where practical, stray it must, even to the Middle East. NATO can do more in nonmilitary fields. NATOs small but sclerotic bureaucracy must also be turned upside-down. NATO must fight the coalition wars of the future better. The Alliance has procrastinated too long to streamline decision-making procedures. For their own interest, the Europeans must spend more on defense. The article insist that "for all its rust, NATO has proved its worth during the Cold War and afterward. Its not too late to give it another fresh lease on life."
- According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the EUs efforts to test its joint security and defense policy in a real-world mission are collapsing under the weight of a dispute between Greece and Turkey. The planning is being caught up in the dispute between Greece and Turkey over a larger issuethe ability of the EUs fledgling rapid-reaction force to rely on NATOs planning capacities, stresses the article. It quotes Defense Minister Scharping saying Tuesday that if officials are unable to resolve the issue in the next six to eight weeks, the EU will have to reconsider its plans for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. A related article in Le Figaro stresses that the establishment of binding relations between the EU and NATO remain in a standstill. The article adds, however, that the Spanish EU presidency hopes that a solution can be found before the EU summit in Seville in June. "Time is running out. If the Europeans want to implement their plan to take over the peacekeeping mission in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the fall, they need to reach an agreement with NATO within the next few weeks. The agreement, which has been approved by Athens 14 European partners for months, spells out the rules for access to NATO assets, notably planning," adds the newspaper.
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