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SHAPE NEWS SUMMARY & ANALYSIS 08 OCTOBER 2002

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

NATO

         Hungarian defense minister discusses "slow rate" of his country's NATO progress

         Royal Navy to lose 10 ships in carriers deal

BALKANS

         Solana:  nationalists' victory in Bosnia sign of "frustration"

IRAQ

         Senior Iraqi officials looking for "exit strategy"

TURKEY-EU

         U.S. steps up pressure for Turkish accession to EU

 

NATO

 

         In an interview with Bulgarian daily Duma, Oct. 5, Hungarian Defense Minister Juhasz discussed what he described as "the slow rate" of his country's progress regarding NATO.   "I have asked my colleagues in the government and the General Staff to accept my opinion and be completely frank with NATO.  We should tell them the truth and admit that we will never fulfill the promises we made, at least not in the near future," Juhasz said, adding:  "After joining NATO, we made a big mistake.  This was a mistake typical of the pushy student who undertakes too many tasks and promises to do everything.  We were not able to fulfill the promises we made.  Our promises even exceeded the organization's demands.. We should take a step backward but before doing so we should receive diplomatic support from the Alliance's members."  Asked to be more explicit, Juhasz said:  "Can you believe that the former government had started preparations for building naval facilities here, in the center of Europe. The facilities should have been used to transport Hungarian troops and munitions by sea although Hungary does not have an outlet to the sea!  What about the decision to lease 12 Gripen fighters from Sweden?  The former cabinet made this decision just before handing over power.  Under the agreement, these planes cannot fly outside Hungary.  However, there are situations where it is more efficient to protect the country's interests outside its borders."  The government has started to revise the national security strategy. We have developed the framework for military strategy and development and set the goals of our cooperation within the framework of NATO in the next few years, the minister added.  "We need at least 2 percent of the GDP to be able to maintain the army as the NATO standards require.  The government plans to meet this NATO standard in 2006," he continued.

 

         The Royal Navy is to lose up to six of its 32 destroyers and frigates and four mine hunters as part of a series of cuts imposed by the Treasury to pay for two new aircraft carriers and joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft, writes The Daily Telegraph.  The article recalls that Defense Secretary Hoon announced last week that the Defense Ministry was to spend 13 billion on two aircraft carriers and 150 JSF aircraft.  It claims that the loss of 10 ships from the fleet has caused "considerable grief" among senior Navy officers already hit by a series of cuts this year.  The newspaper remarks that the cuts will take the fleet below the government's 1998 Strategic Defense Review requirements of 26 operational destroyers and frigates at all time.

 

BALKANS

 

         According to AFP,  EU foreign policy chief Solana said Monday the victory of nationalist parties in Bosnia's weekend election was a sign of frustration, not a return to the ethnic divisions that caused war a decade ago.  "I see these elections as the expression of disappointment at the lack of change, not a vote for the past.  What we've seen in these elections appears to represent a vote of frustration, but certainly not a vote to return to the nationalism of 10 years ago,"   Solana reportedly said.

 

High Representative Paddy Ashdown's description of the nationalists' good score in Bosnia's polls as a "protest vote" is noted by the media.

Early results indicated that seven years after the West ended the factional ethnic war in the Balkan state, voters had returned to the parties that were closely implicated in the outbreak of hostilities, writes The Daily Telegraph.  It notes, however, that Ashdown said the results did not mean that Bosnians wanted to revert to divisive nationalism.  "The weekend vote was a protest, a cry for help, not a vote for more of  the same or a return of the past," the article quotes Ashdown saying. 

Several commentators consider, however, that the poll's results demonstrate the weakness of the Dayton accords.

Ashdown tried to minimize the significance of the poll's results, but the performance of the nationalists points out to the weaknesses of the Dayton accord, which divided the country into two entities, writes Le Figaro. "We put an end to the war, but we did not create the basis for a normal state," the French daily quotes a European parliamentarian saying. 

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal notes that the fighting in Bosnia ended seven years ago with the signing of the Dayton peace accord and the deployment of 60,000 NATO peacekeepers.  But, stresses the editorial,  the preliminary results of this weekend's elections suggest that the inter-ethnic conflict continues by different means.  The article adds:  "Ashdown tried to gloss over the outcome presumably for the benefit of weary western donors..  While the past can't be undone, the elections highlight a problem that can be fixed. The governing structure perpetuates the ethnic division of Bosnia.  Preoccupied by a possible war in Iraq, the West is not interested in reopening the Dayton treaty... Ashdown needs to be realistic.  The international authorities need to make this highly dysfunctional political system more workable.  Modest steps in this direction can take Bosnia a long way toward burying its civil war for good."

 

IRAQ

 

         According to The Times, senior members of Saddam Hussein's regime are starting to look for an exit strategy if America declares war on Iraq.  Citing a top British government source, the newspaper says London and Washington have received indications that "some of the people around (Saddam) have begun to fear for their future if the Iraqi leader is overthrown and are looking for ways of saving their skins."  Senior U.S. and British military commanders are becoming increasingly confident that an attack on Iraq will trigger an uprising against Saddam by the Iraqi people, the newspaper asserts.

 

Media observe that in a televised speech Monday, President Bush sought to allay concerns over his  policy toward Iraq.

In a prime-time televised address, President Bush Monday attempted to calm public concerns about his drive to disarm and overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime, writes the Financial Times.  Bush was seeking to tackle head-on the most frequent questions posed by voters, including why the administration believes the Iraqi regime represents an urgent challenge requiring immediate action, stresses the newspaper.  It notes that the speech was timed to drive forward this week's congressional debate in the House and Senate on a resolution authorizing the administration to use all necessary means-including force-against Iraq.

The Independent observes that Bush took his case directly to the American people, explaining why he believes the Iraqi leader to be such an immediate threat to U.S. security and to world peace that he must be dealt with now.  Noting that his key target was the American public, the newspaper adds that signs are growing that, in the absence of proof that Saddam's chemical and biological weapons represent an immediate threat, the public is tiring of the issue.  A New York Times/CBS poll Monday found that 70 percent of the public felt there was too much talk about Iraq, and that almost 60 percent  considered the faltering economy a more important issue for the upcoming mid-term elections, stresses the article.

 

Turkey-EU

 

         According to the Financial Times, the Europeans are coming under increasing pressure from Washington to offer Turkey a date for starting accession negotiations with the EU instead of setting new conditions or obstructing progress. The U.S. is reportedly exerting maximum pressure now, partly because of Turkey's strategic importance if Washington decides to launch military strikes against Iraq.  Washington is also concerned that, once the EU expands from 15 to 25 members by mid-2004, Brussels will be reluctant to take on another enlargement for some time afterwards. 

 

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