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SHAPE NEWS MORNING UPDATE 09 DECEMBER 2002

 

 

 

NATO

         Schroeder at risk from US request to NATO over Iraq

         NATO Secretary-General Robertson arrives in Moscow for conference

BALKANS

         French troops in Bosnia club linked to trafficking

         Serbia faces major political crisis after failed election

EU

         Four candidate countries pledge to work together to improve their EU membership conditions

 

 

NATO
 

         A U.S. suggestion that NATO radar planes play a role in an Iraq war threatened on Sunday to embarrass the German government, which has staked its credibility on not getting involved.  A spokesman for Chancellor Schroeder reiterated Germany would not take part in military action against Iraq, but speculation grew that Berlin would not be able to avoid committing troops if the United States calls on NATO.  Most of NATO's AWACS radar planes are based in Germany and one quarter of their crews are German. "The government is sticking to its clear stance not to participate in military actions in a war against Iraq," Schroeder's spokesman said on Sunday.   In a sign of trouble ahead for Schroeder, delegates of the pacifist-oriented Greens, junior partners in his centre-left coalition, approved a toughly-worded motion on any U.S. military action at a congress on Sunday.    The motion calls on the government to ban German air space for U.S. forces and take German crewmembers off AWACS flights if the United States attacks Iraq without a UN mandate to do so." Germany will not be able to refuse this request for AWACS planes... It is impossible to withdraw German crewmembers from the crews made up of various NATO member states, Juergen Koppelin, a leading member of the opposition liberal Free Democrats, said in a statement." (Reuters 1811 081202 GMT)

 

         NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson arrived in Moscow on Sunday ahead of a Russia-NATO conference on cooperation in anti-terrorist operations. The conference, to be opened Monday by Robertson and Defense Minister Ivanov, will highlight the burgeoning ties between Russia and its former Cold War foe, boosted by President Putin's firm support of the U.S.-led war on terror. Robertson said that he hoped to advance the idea that if NATO and Russia work together, they may jointly overcome terrorist threats, according to ITAR-Tass news agency.(AP 081724 Dec 02 GMT)

 

BALKANS

 

         Ten French soldiers from the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia will be sent home after they were found in a Sarajevo nightclub notorious for human trafficking, international officials said on Friday. Bosnian police found the peacekeepers in the nightclub Florida during a raid with United Nations policing monitors backed up by SFOR on Thursday. "Military sanctions are going to be taken against them and they are going back to France straight away," Benoit Schneider, First Secretary in the French embassy in Sarajevo, told Reuters.  SFOR spokesman Paul Carroll said the soldiers had violated an SFOR ban on visiting nightclubs suspected of links to prostitution or trafficking. "They should not have been there," Carroll said. He added it was now up to their country to decide what measures to take.(Reuters 2009 061202 GMT)

 

         Serbia headed for a major political crisis after it failed for a second time to elect a president and the top contender, President Kostunica, said he would not recognize the outcome. "We will not recognize the results of this election," Kostunica said hours after the polls closed. "Crime is the right word for what happened here." Sunday's vote was invalid because only some 44 percent of the electorate cast ballots, short of the 50 percent minimum turnout required by the election law, according to the State Electoral Commission and the independent observers. Sunday's uncertainty at the polls also set the stage for a showdown between Kostunica and his chief rival, Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic. While existing law bars a runoff after Sunday's vote, it was not immediately clear whether or when more elections would be held. Dragoljub Micunovic, a top politician, said the matter is not regulated by the constitution. Kostunica has indicated he would not run again, but would try to bring down Djindjic's government in the Serbian parliament, thus provoking nationwide general election.(AP 090237 Dec 02 GMT)

 

EU

 

         Four countries expected to join the European Union in 2004 pledged Saturday to unite to fight for better membership conditions ahead of a union summit next week. The prime ministers of Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary met in western Slovakia to reaffirm their common stance ahead of Thursday's EU summit. "We are determined to keep agreements ... to speak homogeneously together, because that will strengthen our voice," Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller told reporters at the end of the two-day informal meeting. Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said uniting would give the countries a better chance, because they would speak with a voice representing 65 million people instead of 10 million people. The negotiations to reach better terms with the EU will continue "until the last moment," Miller said. "We're convinced that there will be no winners nor losers," Miller said.(AP 071348 Dec 02 GMT)

 

 

 

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