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Home arrow newsitems arrow Strasbourg's tradition for larger deals on NATO moves, a chance for Obama ?

Strasbourg's tradition for larger deals on NATO moves, a chance for Obama ?

Written by ACM
Mittwoch, 01 April 2009
nato_summit_strass


 Few people know that the most important NATO's changes have been politically decided in Strasbourg the recent times, and that all indicates that this tradition will be probably kept now too, at its forthcoming 2009 Anniversary Summit, on Friday and Saturday.

It's indeed in Strasbourg, on 1997, that the most unthinkable change since NATO's creation, back at the Cold War, its 1st Historic Enlargement to Central - Eastern European Countries was in fact decided, after an EU Troika meeting with the f. Foreign Minister of Russia, Evgeni Primakov.

The decision had been taken at an EU - Russia meeting, a Monday before EU Parliament's session starts, and  the protagonists, 4 Foreign Ministers, immediatedly came to the Europeran Press Center (IPE 3) to announce the result to Strasbourg's Journalists.

But, "EuroFora" did not exist yet, ...and this radicallly important News remained practically hidden to the World, with the exception of a Greek and Turkish Media, and a local French radio...

Thus, the Foreign Ministers had to repeat the same exercice, one day later, at nearby Luxembourg, where several Brussels' Journalists had routinely gathered, for a banal ... Agriculture budget meeting..

There, Strasbourg info on NATO enlargement became immediately Headline "News", particularly once it was cited by US Agency AP, ... even if it was 24 Hours old !...Ironically, the most important GeoPolitical development in Europe's modern History, had to get the help of ... Cows or goats, in order to "exist"  for our scandalously stupid Mass Media...

In fact, the real NATO - Russia GeoPolitical deal had a much  broader scope : Primakov remained critical against NATO's Enlargement to former Warsaw pact countries, but accepted that Moscow let it be, in exchange of EU's promisse to boost its mainly Economic Framework agreement with Russia opening an era of more intense exchanges.

At the same time, the 1997 Strasbourg's diplomatic landscape had already radically changed recently, allowing for this unprecedented event to take place : Since February 1996, the same Primakov had formally signed Russia's entry to the CoE, as full Member : An immense change in the former Cold War-style  Organization of Strasbourg, which had also accepted, meanwhile, since the end of 1995,  ... the USA, under a special Status

Thus, CoE had already become .. Trans-Atlantic, without making big noise.!.. This fact obviously had facilitated the presence in 2006 in Strasbourg of both the f. Russian Foreign Minister Primakov, who had reportedly come for CoE's affairs, and the discreet contacts with some American diplomats.

The rest (i.e. attracting here EU's Troika at the same time) had been done thanks to EU Parliament's regular sessions in Strasbourg, which include, in addition to MEPs, also the rotating EU Council's Presidency, in the Top level form of Foreign Ministers, often even Prime Ministers.

It's probably nowhere else in the World, but in Strasbourg, that you could find, regularly crossing each other's routes, both EU, CoE, Russian and American Top Political Players, and even in such a "soft" and natural way, that they could have been discreetly meeting unofficially for Months, without anyone noticing, since they were, at any case, here, on the occasion of various differend other meetings, special to each one of these organizations which coexist in the same time and space..
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Strasbourg : ATA 1999 - NATO 2009
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This was made even more clear shortly afterwards, in  1999,  10 Years before NATO's 2009 Summit, during Atlantic Treaty Association ('ATA)"s Conference, organized in Strasbourg the same year that the 1st NATO's Enlargment Eastwards was enacted in real practice :

All the week-long, f. French President Jacques Chirac, f. NATO's SG Robinson, f. Presidents of Romania and Bulgaria, Constantinescu and Stoyanov, together with several Foreign and/or Defence Ministers, focused on parallel NATO and EU Enlargements :

There also, Defence, Security and Political levels had, oficially, nothing in common, but in fact, they were allowed a complex interplay on several concrete occasions : Both practically and symbolically, the 1999 ATA Conference took place ...inside CoE and EU Parliament's buildings all the week long..

France and other EU Countries' wish to be both inside the NATO, and "Autonomous" in their development and use of their own Defence capacities, inevitably marked the event.

And Now ?

A Decade later, New US President Obama's visit to Europen has also a broaderr GeoPolitical scope :

From Globall Finance in London, at the West, he heads towards EU issues at nearby Prague, Eastwards, showing anew that Strasbourg is in the middle pf it all..

NATO's Defense matters, once again, cannot and will not be treated alone, but in relation to all other main topical issues.

Russia is anew a crucial factor in Strasbourg Geo-Political issues in 2009, even more than at the beginning of this Decade in 1999, 1997 and 1995.

Collectively, thanks to a Franco-German idea, suggested by President Sarkozy and supported by Chancellor Merkel, to try to use OSCE to start examining the idea of a PanEuropean Security system, in order to avoid a Russo-American Missile Crisis in Europe. And/or bilaterally, by developing further an American idea to incite Russia to intermediate vis a vis Iran, while also cooperating closer on Afghanistan, Moscow's de-gel with NATO will anyway be on the Agenda.

But, obviously, the most intrigating issue, is the future of Euro-American links :

New US President Barack Obama, obviously has raised several hopes in Europe, including in French President Sarkozy, but he'd better try to start using this positive ambiance into building together something concrete the soonest possible, before Time runs away and unpredictable events or the usual routine, may threaten to take away more or less of this alchemie.

It's true that an American wish to try to ameliorate relations with Europe started also to be shown during former US President G.W.Bush's second mandate, since 2004/2005, while even his unsuccesful competitor, Senator Kerry, had insisted during the electoral campain on that point.

On March 2009, EU Parliament in Strasbourg, has just adopted a Report on Euro-American relations, drafted by ChristianDemocrat MEP Francisco Millan-Mons, which strongly supports new concrete steps in developing a closer Trans-Atlantic partnership, including by Institutional changes.

Meanwhile, it's not only France which fully re-joins NATO, but also the USA which might join the European defence in Strasbourg !

- EUROCORPS' Headquarters expect "probably during this Summer" 2009, that the American Army joins the MultiNational PC as "Sending Nation", said earlier to "EuroFora", EuroCorps' PIO Chief, colonel Raul Suevos.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
But a crucial test will inevitably be whether a new US position might make good use of Sarkozy's bold move to bring France back to NATO's joint Military commandment, by allowing Europe to equally develop its Defence capacities, particularly in the High-Tech sector, and safeguard its independence of thinking in some major strategic choices, while also being a faithful and reliable ally..

In particular, it seems that, as EADS-Astrium's chief expert on Security and Defence policy, General Molard, recently told "EuroFora" in Strasbourg, the main component which still lacks for Europe to acquire an independent capacity of modern defence, including on anti-missile protection, is to develop an Airborn and/or Spaceborn "Early Warning system", which, if the right decisions are taken in 2009, could be ready before 2016.

(See full Interview, for the moment sent only to "EuroFora"s Subscribers/Donors),

With this, and other similar concrete issues, is also linked the core question on whether a new US policy might accept to share and cooperate with the EU, and/or accept its parallel development, more largelly on all main Scientific and Technological breakthroughs related to Security and Defence, and particularly Air-Space Research and Development matters, without big exclusions.

- "This is not done "against" the Americans. Our American Friends (already) have a capacity to evaluate the situation. The Europeans will have their own capacity to evaluate the situation. So that we can discuss together. Because as the Americans don't always see everything, and aren't always right, also the Europeans don't always see everything and aren't always right. But, together, we (EU and USA) are stronger", concluded on the crucial question the experienced General Molard.

- "I think that what Sarkozy does is the right thing  : The development of a European Defence with the capacitty to act in an autonomous way, is not contradictory with France's return to NATO's military command. In fact, it can be mutually reinforcing", replied recently to "EuroFora" also EuroCorps' Chief of Staff, Georg Nachtsheim from Germany.

Last, but not least, at another front, new US President Barack Obama may also make good use of another unique opportunity in Strasbourg, this time mainly vis-a-vis Civil Society and Citizens  : A key sector in the foreseeable Future also for NATO, if it really wants to develop a new role also in direction of Civil Society (as current plans clearly indicate), and to become more Popular  :

It's well known that a part of Obama's driving force among the People, both inside the US and abroad, are his personal symbolic links with the Historic American Civic Rights movement, initiated by Martin Luther King. Some CoE Diplomats told "EuroFora" that they remember of Obama when they worked at WDC and US Senate's Black Caucus. Meanwhile, recent developments towards the closure of controversial Guantanamo bay prison, denounced by MEPs, that even f. president Bush had started to overcome, add in this same direction.

This is partly linked to a renewal of the classic "American Dream", to the point that even former US President G.W.Buish recognized that when he spoke of Barack Obama's personal course, from Chicago to Washinghton DC's White House.

But Strasbourg is also known in all Europe and the World as the "Capital of Human Rights", mainly because of Council of Europe's No 1 priority since the 2005 Warsaw Summit, and of the unique work done by the European Court of Human Rights the last decades.

Thus, it would certainly be a nice idea for the new US President, Barack Obama, to try to find a moment and a way to visit or otherwise link, symbolically and/or in real prtactice his 2 Days-long stay in Strasbourg with the CoE, and/or the ECHR.

After all, it's since 1995 ("Clinton A" era) that the USA have got a status inside CoE, and, by a positive coincidence, both ECHR and CoE buildings have been located inside the NATO Summit's Security perimeter (See MAP in related Newstory dated 31/3/09), just a few minutes way from the PMC building where the Summit takes place and Obama will stay overnight...

Even in the American and worldwide controversy on public funds for Human Embryo's use for Research, which opposed Obama to Bush, a right US move towards the CoE may help to alleviate fears against risks of abuse :

Strasbourg-based CoE has, indeed, a unique in the World legally binding mechanism for the protection of Human Rights in the domain (of growing importance world-wide) of Bio-Medicine, which includes some safeguards against possible abuses dangerous to individual persons, and to Humankind. American Legal Experts have worked together with European Experts from the start, since many years ago, to draft this International Treaty, (known as "Oviedo" Treaty, from the Spanish village in which it was signed at a special CoE event).     


"EuroFora" has already communicated such points and suggestions  to some CoE's staff, Months earlier. Shortly after that,  CoE's Secretary General, Terry  Davis, decided to visit Washington DC, on the occasion of a public event, at the eve of NATO's 2009 Summit here.

On all these points, results will be seen during the following days in Strasbourg, But what is sure is just that the way such questions will be treated here, is due to have an important impact on the Future.

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