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Updated: 25-Feb-2004

SHAPE News Morning Update

25 February 2004

  • Slovenia’s parliament ratifies NATO accession


  • NATO chief defends alliance attempts to round up indicted war criminals in Balkans
  • Bosnia may miss chance for Partnership for Peace program


  • Afghan president says election may be delayed


  • Moldova separatists warn of war if West steps in
  • Egypt’s Mubarak visits Saudi Arabia for talks on Iraq and U.S. plan for reform in the Middle East


  • The Slovenian parliament ratified an accession charter to NATO on Tuesday, paving the way for it to join the security alliance along with six other countries in April as planned. This nation was the only one of the invited countries to hold a referendum on NATO membership. (Reuters 241317 GMT Feb 04)


  • NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the alliance was doing all it could to round up indicted war crimes suspects in the Balkans. Speaking to the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer said NATO “is doing everything it can to get them.” He said it was “unacceptable” former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his general, Ratko Mladic “are still at large.” “Perhaps they can hide but they cannot hide forever,” he told EU lawmakers. In his first visit to the EU assembly as NATO chief, Mr. De Hoop Scheffer also urged EU nations to spend more on defense in wake of new security threats like terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. (AP 241758 Feb 04)

  • Bosnia may miss its chance to join NATO’s security forum this year because it has failed to appoint a single defence minister by a mid-February deadline, the spokesman of Bosnia’s peace overseer said on Tuesday. “It is almost March, yet Bosnian authorities have failed to fulfil the first and most basic requirement for PfP membership, thereby putting at risk the long-term security of every citizen of this country,” said Kevin Sullivan, speaking at a news conference on behalf of peace overseer Paddy Ashdown. NATO, in Brussels, said the failure of Bosnians to push through defence reforms could put Bosnia’s joining in jeopardy. “If these conditions are not met, there is no entrance to Partnership for Peace. One of the conditions that should be met is...a single minister of defence,” said a NATO spokeswoman. (Reuters 241825 GMT Feb 04)


  • Afghan President Karzai hinted his country’s first democratic election could be delayed despite what he called a “massive exercise” to register enough voters in time for the June target. “A massive exercise has begun to try to register voters,” Hamid Karzai told Pakistan’s state-run PTV in Kabul. He said the UN planned to hire 30,000 people to spread out across the country in April and May to register voters. “But if we for some reason fail to reach that mark of 10 million registered voters in Afghanistan, then we should consider if it is all right, if it is legitimate to go to elections in June or July without having registered the voters that we must register,” he said. (Reuters 241750 GMT Feb 04)


  • Moldova’s Russian-speaking separatists warned on Tuesday of a new war in the former Soviet republic if NATO or another international force intervened in the country that shares a border with future EU member Romania. “If such steps are taken, it would lead to a new outbreak of conflict, including an armed one,” Oleg Gudymo, a deputy security minister in Dnestr’s internationally unrecognised government told the region’s official news agency Olvia-press. “The population will view the drafting in of some other forces under the auspices of NATO, the OSCE or the Council of Europe as direct foreign intervention.” (Reuters 241742 GMT Feb 04)

  • Egypt and Saudi Arabia indicated that they rejected a U.S. plan for greater freedom in the Middle East, issuing a statement that affirmed they were following their own agenda for reform. In their statement, which was published by the official Saudi Press Agency, Egyptian President Mubarak, Saudi King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah did not mention the Greater Middle East Initiative, but they said they rejected “imposing a particular reform pattern on the Arab and Islamic countries from abroad.” The leaders said they had a common approach to reform, which they would present at next month’s meeting of Arab League foreign ministers. (AP 241935 Feb 04)


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