News Summary & Analysis
minister inaugurates unit offered to NRF
- NATO Secretary
General de Hoop Scheffer views NATO’s challenges
to contribute helicopters to Afghanistan mission
peacekeepers detain suspected drug smugglers in Kabul raid
- EU welcomes
positive U.S. signals on Galileo Satellite project
Kossuth Radio, Jan. 16, reported that in the central Hungarian
town of Szolnok Friday, Defense Minister Ferenc Juhasz inaugurated a
special reconnaissance company offered for the NRF. The elite-unit
will be part of the NRF for six months, the broadcast noted.
an interview with Paris’ Le Monde, Jan. 17, and a guest commentary
in Bild am Sonntag, Jan. 18, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
analyzed NATO’s current and future challenges.
“The priority for NATO is Afghanistan.
But Iraq also remains on the agenda. The Alliance already plays a role
there by providing support to the division commanded by Poland. We will
analyze political developments in Iraq, such as the transfer of sovereignty
in June-July and the formation of a legitimate government. I do not
rule out the possibility that, at some stage, NATO’s role will
be strengthened and extended, but we must take into account political
developments in Iraq,” Le Monde quoted Mr. de Hoop Scheffer saying.
Noting that NATO at present exercises the coordination and command
of ISAF and responsibility for the new PRT in Kunduz, he reportedly
added: “Of course, one cannot say that ISAF’s action is
a success in the entire country, since its role has been confined to
Kabul and the surrounding areas. The major challenge now is
to facilitate voters’ registration for next year’s elections.
Pessimists were saying that in that country which has no tradition of
democracy or central government, the loya jirga - which adopted a constitution
- would not succeed. They were wrong. The task remains
Herculean, but much progress has been made.” Reacting
to the newspaper’s observation that while NATO’s strategy
remains to establish more PRTs, member countries have problems of military
capabilities with a view to taking on such a role, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer
was further quoted saying: “The key word is ‘capabilities.’
Foreign and Defense ministers made the important decision, last December,
to support the political process in Afghanistan. It is a case of noblesse
oblige: they cannot say, ‘We have made that decision but we lack
the military capabilities and the financial resources.’ NATO defense
ministers will meet in Munich in 15 days and I will remind them it was
they who made this decision.” Asked how he envisions the functioning
of a European military headquarters, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer replied: “Three
scenarios are possible in time of crises: First, a NATO intervention.
Then, if NATO does not want to intervene, there are the Berlin Plus
accords, a possibility for the EU to resort to NATO’s assets.
Last, apart from Berlin Plus, the EU can intervene on its own. The link
between the planning cell at SHAPE and NATO liaison officers at the
EU cell is a good thing. We will see how this goes in practice. I attach
great importance to good relations between the EU and NATO.” Asked
for his interpretation of the Berlin Plus accords, he said: “NATO
performs the prime role. But all this is rather theoretical. In the
light of the EU’s present capabilities, the question will always
be put first to NATO. Let’s not forget that France, Britain and
perhaps Germany are the only EU countries which could, in theory, intervene
militarily…. The Alliance has an integrated military structure
which is unique, whereas the EU has limited military capabilities.”
In Bild am Sonntag, Jan. 18, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer stated: What are the
great discussions that NATO will have to face? First--Afghanistan. We
have to double our efforts there. Anyone who wants to win the war against
terrorism must not loose Afghanistan. Therefore, the expansion of NATO’s
presence beyond the capital of Kabul is the right political as well
as military step. Germany has made great contributions in this regard.
However, I expect from all NATO member states an even larger readiness
to provide enough troops and equipment for this task. Second-- Iraq.
Nobody doubts that the stabilization of Afghanistan is NATO’s
primary task. However, a discussion about an extended role for NATO
in Iraq cannot be ruled out. When the discussion begins, we will have
to show respect for each other on both side of the Atlantic. Third--the
Balkans. NATO played a key role during the pacification of South-Eastern
Europe. Its decisive actions ended the civil wars there and led the
Balkans back on the track in Europe. In Bosnia, the time has come now
to substitute NATO forces for an EU mission. However, Kosovo and the
Balkans overall still require the stabilizing presence of the Atlantic
Alliance. Mr. de Hoop Scheffer concluded: “Can NATO do all of
this? It can—if the member states want it and if they put their
money where their mouth is. This meanly means that plans for military
reforms must not remain empty talks but have to result in a real increase
in military capabilities. So far, all NATO nations have pledged to do
better. My task as NATO’s new secretary general will be to insistently
remind them of their pledge.”
- The Turkish
army said Friday that Ankara had decided to contribute three helicopters
to ISAF, reports AFP. According to the dispatch, Deputy Chief
of Staff Gen. Basbug told reporters the helicopters would be
sent to Kabul once technical talks on the issue were completed. The
Netherlands has promised five helicopters, while Germany has pledged
another three, he added.
AP, Canadian peacekeepers said Monday they had detained 16
people in a raid against suspected drug smugglers and terrorists in
the Afghan capital Kabul. The men were taken into custody
Sunday morning when some 200 soldiers surrounded and stormed a compound
in southern Kabul, a spokesman for the peacekeepers is quoted saying.
Five were being questioned Monday at a Canadian base in the west of
the city. The rest were handed over to Afghan police, who said they
had released them. “About 5,500 peacekeepers, mostly Canadian
and German soldiers, are stationed in Kabul. The troops are a common
sight on patrol around the city, but rarely take offensive action,”
the dispatch observes.
Spiegel, which claims that Defense Minister Struck briefed the Cabinet
that there would soon be 320 troops operating in the German PRT in
Kunduz, argues that the reinforcements are also partly in response
to a threat from drug gangs hit by the destruction of opium crops.
Noting that 171 German soldiers are currently deployed
in Kunduz, the weekly says: “The dangers for the German soldiers
in Afghanistan is increasing: British units started to burn poppy
fields in the region of Konduz to fight drug trafficking. The Federal
Government now wants to considerably reinforce its troops in the region.
The reinforcement is necessary, because in the capitals of the other
provinces that also belong to the German sector, it is planned to
establish ‘outposts.’ These outposts, so-called ‘satellites,”
as they are called in diplomatic jargon, should serve as shelters
for the soldiers and development helpers…. The German soldiers
are in additional danger because British soldiers have started to
combat drug cultivation by burning down poppy fields in the region….
People in (Chancellor Schroeder’s) office fear that the drug
barons might take revenge actions against Germans.”
- AFP reports the
EU Friday welcomed signs that the United States is overcoming its objections
to Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system, a potential rival
to the U.S. GPS network. The dispatch quotes EU Commission
Vice President Loyola de Palacio saying she hoped talks in Washington
on Jan. 29-30 would iron out the remaining obstacles holding up a joint
cooperation agreement on the satellite issue. “Positive statements
last week by U.S. officials reinforce the EU’s goal of defining,
together with our U.S. partners, the standard for the best possible
civil system for the benefit of users worldwide,” she reportedly
stated. According to the dispatch, the talks will tackle the coexistence
of Galileo’s civilian signal with GPS and the modulation of GPS’
military signal in the event of crisis.