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SHAPE NEWS SUMMARY & ANALYSIS 05 AUGUST 2002

 

 

 

NATO
  • Pacifists lodge complaint against NATO for non-proliferation treaty violations

GEORGIA-NATO-ACCESSION

  • Georgia stepping up efforts to join NATO

IRAQ-GERMANY

  • German fears that common EU stance on Iraq swaying

ANTI-TERRORISM

  • Pentagon plan seeks countries’ OK to attack cells

TURKEY-POLITICS

  • Turkey says reforms earn it EU membership talks

 

 

NATO

 

  • Based on a Belga dispatch, La Libre Belgique writes that on Saturday, pacifist demonstrators handed a complaint to the police in Casteau, the site of SHAPE headquarters. According to the report, the complaint, against Gen. Ralston and Belgian Defense Minister Flahaut, denounced the alleged presence of nuclear weapons at the Kleine Brogel airbase, where a protest is planned for Oct. 5. The demonstrators reportedly claimed that the presence of those weapons at the Belgian base is in breach of certain articles of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The newspaper recalls that this is the third such complaint in three years and the previous ones were filed with no action taken. The newspaper quotes Flahaut saying: "As was the case in the past, the complaint will be examined by the department, probably in collaboration with NATO." De Standaard carries related information, noting that the complaint was lodged on the occasion of the anniversaries of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

 

 

GEORGIA-NATO-ACCESSION

 

  • AFP reports Georgia stepped up its efforts to join NATO Friday, the day after Russian officials warned they were ready to attack suspected Chechen rebels in the Pankisi Gorge. The National Security Council reportedly tasked a special government commission with preparing a program by Nov. 1 for integration into the NATO political, economic and military spheres. According to the dispatch, the Foreign Ministry said the program would enable Tbilisi to engage in dialogue with NATO about future admission, although Georgia did not intend to apply for membership at the Prague summit.

 

 

 

IRAQ-GERMANY

 

  • Berlin’s DDP, Aug. 5, stressed that in the debate about a possible U.S. military operation against Iraq, the German government apparently fears that the common position of the EU governments might collapse. The dispatch quoted Michael Mueller, deputy SPD parliamentary group leader, saying Chancellor Schroeder is very concerned about the fact that Prime Minister Blair is apparently ready to participate in a U.S. military operation against Iraq. "Thus, the common position of the EU, which views such an operation in a very distanced manner, starts to sway," Mueller reportedly noted. AP observes meanwhile that alarmed by sliding poll ratings, Schroeder and his Social Democrats have moved forward their official electoral campaign launch by more than two weeks. Ahead of the launch, Schroeder repeatedly questioned the wisdom of military action against Iraq, looking to put his challenger on the spot on foreign policy, notes the dispatch. A commentary in Hamburger Abendblatt claims that on Sept. 24 and 25, NATO defense ministers want to decide how and with what forces they want to support a U.S. invasion of Iraq. "For Germany, this is no longer, as was the case 11 years ago, a question of providing airfields for U.S. bombers, to deliver ammunition, and to offer money. This time it concerns soldiers, tanks, and combat planes. German support will be a test of Germany’s loyalty toward German-American friendship," stresses the commentary. The Financial Times speculates that Schroeder will inaugurate his Social Democratic Party’s main campaign for next month’s general election with a speech distancing the German government from a possible U.S. attack on Iraq. According to the newspaper, the chancellor is expected to underline Germany’s solidarity with Washington and its concern about international terrorism when he addresses a rally in Hanover. But with the SPD trailing badly in the opinion polls and an attack on Iraq highly unpopular, Schroeder will emphasize that Germany is no longer to be a silent partner of the U.S., providing financial backing, as it did in the Gulf War. He will also stress that the political links between Washington and its European allies, and the risks and implications of attacking Iraq, are too great to justify a unilateral decision by one partner, even if it feels its security is at stake. Turin’s La Stampa opines meanwhile that the possibility of war on Iraq begs a broader look at the way in and the extent to which the U.S. strategy has changed from "containment" to "preemptive defense." The article says: "President Bush has turned completely upside down the historical strategy, which enabled the United States to win the Cold War without firing a shot. But pre-emptive defense raises not a few questions, of both a legal and a practical nature, especially if a UN authorization is to be skipped. Who decides, and with what authority, if a given regime has become intolerable? And where does the responsibility lie in the event of error?" In another development, AP reports that the British Defense Ministry confirmed reports Monday that the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal, will be deployed to the Mediterranean next month. The carrier, with a full compliment of Harrier jets and helicopters, will be accompanied by a destroyer, the Ministry reportedly said. According to the dispatch, that raised media speculation that the carrier could be used in an attack to drive Saddam Hussein out of power. But the Ministry said the Ark Royal would be taking part in NATO exercises, and said it was not part of any planned Gulf operation.

 

 

ANTI-TERRORISM

 

  • According to the Washington Times, a new Pentagon counter terrorism plan calls for making arrangements with some foreign countries to allow U.S. commandos on their soil to attack terrorist cells. The newspaper quotes two senior U.S. officials with knowledge about the planning saying Defense Secretary Rumsfeld wants such procedures in place so special operations forces can act on intelligence in hours, not days or weeks. The sources reportedly said it is too early to predict whether such agreements can be worked out with all nations where Al Qaeda cells exist. They added that senior defense officials also want such clandestine missions deemed acts of war, so they stay outside the control of civilian law enforcement.

 

 

TURKEY-POLITICS

 

  • Reuters quotes Turkey’s top official for EU affairs, Volkan Vural, saying in Ankara Monday that Turkey’s passage of sweeping human rights reform has earned it the right to begin EU membership talks. According to the dispatch, Vural, secretary general for EU affairs, told reporters Turkey had now fulfilled Europe’s so-called Copenhagen criteria, political reforms needed to begin membership talks, and was looking to an EU summit in December for confirmation. "Our expectation from the summit is to win a date for negotiations," Vural reportedly said, adding: "This reform ensures Turkey is in the same league in terms of the political system and political requirements not only with the candidate countries but with member countries. Therefore the Turkish nation … will expect that this fact should be recognized by the members of the EU." The dispatch recalls that Parliament at the weekend passed a set of political measures that included abolishing the death penalty and allowing Kurdish language broadcasting and education, moves aimed at meeting Brussels’ requirements to start EU entry talks. The dispatch stresses, however, that officials in Brussels have said more progress is needed on resolving the standoff on the divided island of Cyprus.

 

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