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Updated: 26-Jan-2004

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

26 January 2004

  • Vice President Cheney calls for stronger NATO to boost anti-terror fight


  • Report: Eurocorps officers could join NATO mission in Afghanistan
  • Russia not to send troops to Afghanistan¨ President Karzai signs Afghan constitution


  • Vice President Cheney’s Davos speech viewed


  • Turkey asks UN secretary general to restart Cyprus talks


  • AFP reports that in a speech to Italian leaders at the Senate in Rome, Vice President Cheney called Monday for a stronger NATO as part of a general bolstering of international institutions in the face of the threat of international terrorism. “The need for more deployable forces in the NATO Alliance is critical. Now in this century, we must strengthen NATO and turn its might against the forces of global terror,” he reportedly said. Another priority, he added, was greater cooperation between NATO and the EU. Cheney is quoted saying: “None of us can afford waste, duplication or competition between the two great institutions in Brussels.”

Gen. Jones’ interview with Paris’ Le Figaro last week continues to generate interest.
Italy’s ANSA news agency focuses on Gen. Jones’ suggestion that “NATO should be more and more concerned about the future of the situation in Africa, where high-risk hotspots are very numerous.” The dispatch sees the fact that high-level NATO officials are now publicly talking about an Alliance involvement not only in Afghanistan and Iraq but also in Africa as a sign of the “deep transformation underway at NATO.”

Calls for an enlargement of the Mediterranean dialogue and for a possible NATO involvement in Iraq are prompting Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to conclude that NATO is turning into a security organization.
The newspaper comments: “Cynics would say NATO is looking for new markets and products so as to stay in business. It is looking for employment in the Middle East and in Central Asia, the entire world is a potential area of operations—if security requires it. Now the new secretary general is talking about entering into a security partnership with Israel and six Arab countries so as to better be able to combat terrorism. Critics will object to the idea, saying that concentrating on the military element ignores the social and political driving forces of terrorism. This objection would be justified, if nothing else were to happen apart from common operations by armed forces. Political and cultural opposition will certainly also come from inside the Arab countries; and what makes the dialogue with the Mediterranean countries more difficult for the Europeans—the Middle East conflict, really or just an excuse—will also strain the NATO project. However, this project also demonstrates the ability to adjust. The Alliance has turned into a security organization. Whether this creativity to react to new situations will survive the opposition of reality is a different matter.”


  • According to AFP, the French Defense Ministry said Saturday that Paris had proposed that the commanding officers of the Eurocorps be made available to assist ISAF. A French Defense Ministry spokesman is quoted saying: “The question is being studied jointly with the Alliance, but no decision has been taken, since the question concerns all countries participating in the Eurocorps.” German weekly Der Spiegel, Jan. 24, wrote: “Germany has heard that Paris wants to provide the headquarters of the Franco-German Eurocorps for the NATO operation in Afghanistan. So far, France has avoided a substantial involvement in the Hindukush region. Taking over the command in Kabul would require another augmentation of the Bundeswehr troops, who currently number about 1,900.”

  • First Deputy Foreign Minister Trubnikov said in Moscow Friday Russia was not currently considering providing any troops for ISAF but was holding talks with NATO on other forms of help, reported Moscow’s Interfax, Jan. 23. “At present, we are holding consultations with NATO on moving this cooperation onto the practical plane,” Trubnikov reportedly said, referring to Russia’s offer of military transport planes to carry NATO troops.

  • The BBC reported that President Karzai Monday signed Afghanistan’s new constitution at a ceremony in Kabul. The broadcast stressed, however, that the signing ceremony took place against a background of continuing security concerns which threaten to undermine the next stage of Afghanistan’s transitional process, the registration of millions of voters for elections planned for this summer.


Vice President Cheney’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos Saturday, in which he stressed Washington’s commitment to multilateral cooperation, is generally seen as conciliatory gesture aimed at healing transatlantic relations.
In Davos Saturday, Vice President Cheney launched the White House’s broadest overture yet to foreign critics of the Iraq war and called for global cooperation against terrorism and repression, writes the Washington Post. Speaking at an annual meeting of elite corporate and government officials that last year was rife with anti-American sentiment, adds the article, Cheney acknowledged no mistakes in the administration’s handling of Iraq and insisted that “direct threats require decisive action.” But trying to reassure traditional allies, he said it would take “many hands” from Europe and elsewhere to stymie a new generation of terrorists by promoting democracy in the Middle East. The newspaper further notes that Cheney called it a “great responsibility” to “keep our alliances and international partnerships strong, and cooperate on every front as we meet common dangers.”
“Cheney Saturday sought to reduce transatlantic tensions created by the Iraq war. He called on Europe to join the United States in tackling international terrorism by promoting the spread of freedom and democracy in the Middle East,” says the Financial Times. According to the article, the address was widely viewed as an attempt by the Bush administration to mend fences with traditional U.S. allies at a moment when it is seeking international help with the reconstruction of Iraq.
A related Wall Street Journal article observes that policy makers are starting to look for ways to accommodate U.S. power and find a new trans-Atlantic settlement that would help to prevent another Iraq-style bust-up. “Cheney caught the new mood when he addressed the World Economic Forum, defending the actions of the U.S. in Iraq, but also praising Europe and appealing for its support in fighting terrorism,” stresses the daily.

A Commentary in Die Zeit, Jan. 22, encouraged U.S. and European efforts to write a “new chapter” in ties. “In Iraq, Europe and the United States are rediscovering their common interests,” the article said, adding: “The Bush people are recognizing that power does not relinquish legitimacy, and that the arrogant gesture cannot replace diplomacy. The Europeans are learning that powerlessness provides no interface for international policy ambitions. Europe's own interest demands that it not allow Iraq to sink into terror and civil war…. The United States needs not long-distance weapons but allies—from the UN to NATO. The United States needs the power that legitimacy alone delivers, and that calls for the community of all states of goodwill. In practice, that means this: There must be a UN mandate, along with a request to NATO, followed by NATO’s approval. That way, and only that way, can the Germans directly and openly participate … in a ‘robust peace deployment,’ as it is euphemistically called in NATO-speak.”


  • The Washington Post, Jan. 25, reported that Turkey has formally asked the UN to restart negotiations on a plan to reunite the divided island of Cyprus, signaling a final push to resolve the 30-year division before the island’s Greek-controlled southern side joins the EU in May. The article said that at a meeting during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Prime Minister Erdogan asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to name a new mediator. He also said Turkey was prepared to let Annan “fill in the blanks’ on a peace plan stalled since last year.


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