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SHAPE NEWS SUMMARY & ANALYSIS 22 MAY 2002

 

NATO
  • NATO accession could harm President Putin’s clout

TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS

  • President Bush’s forthcoming trip to Europe: comments

BALKANS

  • War crimes Chief Prosecutor demands continued Yugoslav cooperation

 

NATO-ACCESSION

 

  • Eastern countries’ accession into NATO could seriously harm President Putin’s domestic popularity and prestige, Russian officials warned yesterday. "When countries like the Baltic states become Alliance members, NATO will become more anti-Russian and this could considerably harm Putin’s prestige," AFP quotes Alexei Arbatov - Deputy of the State Duma and Deputy Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma – as saying. He also reportedly stressed that "many deputies and officers, and even some of his aides, are exerting strong pressure on Putin to reverse" his strong pro-Western policy. The report further quotes Vyacheslav Nikonov - an analyst with the Moscow-based Politika Foundation – as stressing that the new Russia-NATO Council was hardly an improvement for Russia since "it exists only on paper and no one can say whether it will play a concrete role." Reuters quotes Andrei Ryabov - of the Moscow-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – as stressing that "Putin needs to demonstrate firstly that his policies (of warming to the West) get some real results." The danger, he reportedly added, was for Russians to see themselves as Washington’s dispensable friend, useful in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the U.S. but now not very relevant.

 

TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS

 

President’s Bush forthcoming European trip Is a major issue and it is generally viewed as a fundamental step in creating new ties with Russia amid the lowest U.S –Europe lack of understanding yet. Media highlight he will deliver a speech before the Bundestag and that he will be in Rome for the signing of an unprecedented NATO-Russia accord. Media also stress that strong anti-U.S. protests, especially in Germany, are expected.

The Guardian stresses that the President itinerary through Germany, Russia, France and Italy looks unlikely to lift relationship from its historic low and that, alongside the signing of a nuclear arms reduction treaty in Moscow and the announcement of U.S.-Russian cooperation over missile defense, one of the key moments of this presidential visit will come next Tuesday at a NATO meeting in Rome. However, the article points, it is still not clear what is to become of NATO, the pact that bound the two continents together. The Alliance has now fought its first war, in Kosovo, but the Pentagon hated the experience and in Afghanistan, the U.S. military turned down most of Europe’s offers of help until most of the fighting was over, writes the daily, since the Pentagon’s view was that Europe simply had no airpower to speak of, and it would only start second-guessing decisions and getting in the way. "There’s a real question, I think for good reason, about whether the U.S. thinks NATO is worth anything," the daily quotes Philip Gordon - an analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington, as saying. He further suggests that Washington is pushing for NATO enlargement knowing that a 26-nation Alliance of disparate nations will be unwieldy: in fact, the more diluted and hamstrung the alliance becomes, the better.

"NATO is more necessary than ever… but must change its focus to meet the threats that now face us," President Bush reportedly said in an interview with Italy’s La Repubblica. Regarding the growing technological gap between the European and U.S. military, he suggested that the NATO countries must increase their military spending so that NATO can "gear its capabilities and budget to the new threat." "We are transforming our military in order to meet the new threats and I believe that NATO must transform as well… It will take time…but I’m quite optimistic on that," he reportedly said adding: "Gaps can be closed ... particularly technological gaps, particularly among friends." The President further reportedly stressed the importance of the relationship with Russia in the fight against terrorism.

According to The Financial Times the focal-point of President Bush’s trip will be Russia. The White House is placing great emphasis on broader ties with Russia, including a political statement detailing the scope and aims of the new U.S.-Russia relationship. That statement is expected to focus on how to stop the proliferation of Russia's nuclear, chemical and biological arms technologies, writes the daily, and in particular, the White House is increasingly concerned with Russia's nuclear and arms relationship with Iran.

 

La Libre Belgique, Le Figaro and The Independent note the anti-U.S. protests that took place yesterday in Berlin and stress that new protests are expected for the next days.

 

In a contribution to The New York Times reprinted in The International Herald Tribune, Michael McFaul – a Hoover Institution fellow and professor of political science at Stanford University - stressed that the U.S.-Russian meeting starting Thursday will be only a partial success if President Bush fails to press Putin on democracy. Soviet, then Russian, democratization was indispensable in preparing all the achievements of the upcoming meeting, the author writes, as autocratic Russia opposed NATO, resisted arms control and suppressed markets. On the other hand, democratic Russia has sought to join the West and cooperate with the U.S. and a return to dictatorship in Russia would quickly undermine all of these achievements. President Putin is not a dictator, and he wants Russia to become a thriving capitalist economy fully integrated into the West and rhetorically, he also has championed democracy, the article continues. It concludes: This is why President Bush’s message in Moscow could have a significant impact since by emphasizing democratization, he could impress on President Putin the urgency of moving in the right direction now.

 

"The Bush visit, transatlantic misunderstanding," Duesseldorf Handesblatt headlines.

Veteran observers quite familiar with both sides of the Atlantic cannot remember that there has ever been so much mutual lack of understanding, writes the daily, as there is hardly a question of any importance in which the U.S. and its European partners are still demonstrating unity. September 11 did not by any means create this mutual lack of understanding, rather it accelerated a process that began immediately after the end of the Cold War.  The overwhelming majority of the American political elite are increasingly convinced that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is the central problem of American security, as well as a large majority is also convinced that the conventional instrument of arms control is not very useful, the daily writes.   It continues: On the other hand, the European debate was totally different  and many argued that during the Cold War their experience with arms control as a cooperative instrument was outstanding and this ought to be applicable to the new situation as well.  The very different perspectives of the U.S. on the one hand and of the Europeans on the other could soon culminate in the question:    Should force of arms be used to prevent Saddam Hussein from continuing his regime and his NBC weapons programs? America appears willing to go this way and Europe is undecided, hence the prospects for transatlantic relations are not good, the daily concludes.

 

BALKANS

 

  • After the U.S. lifted the aid embargo under Belgrade authorities’ commitment that they would fully cooperate with the ICTY, Chief Prosecutors Carla del Ponte insisted today that Yugoslav authorities arrest and extradite more Serb suspects. AP quotes Florence Hartmann – Carla del Ponte’s spokeswoman – as stressing that Yugoslavia needs to extradite 17 suspects still at large, open up state archives to war crimes investigators and allow access to witnesses and thanking the U.S. administration "for their effort to get full cooperation" from Yugoslavia. The dispatch further notes that the Human Rights Watch, based in New York, has criticized Yugoslav and Serbian officials for not providing the tribunal access to government archives and Richard Dicker – who follows Yugoslavia for Human Rights Watch - called Secretary of State Powell’s decision premature.

 

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