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Accueil 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 ?

Ecrit par ACM
Wednesday, 01 April 2009
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 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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Benedict's "Source" to revitalize Europe : - "The World needs Hope", Pope says, calling to relaunch E.U. via Human Rights !

Paris - Lourdes - Strasbourg : 12 - 17 September 2008.

The vital need to re-launch Europe can be succesfully met by defending fundamental Human Rights of the People, said Pope Benedict XVI in his 1st speech in France, at his meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy, who currently chairs the EU.

Sarkozy replied by welcoming Christian and other religions' contribution to indispensable Public Debates on crucial issues which affect Human Dignity, Europe, even Humankind, as BioGenetics.

- "When Europeans will see and personally experience that the inalienable Rights of the Human Person .., those of their free Education, their Family life, their Work, ..their Religious Rights, ..are respected and promoted, then, these Europeans will fully understand the greatness of the European construction and will be actively involved in it", Benedict XVI stressed.

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- "It's important that during France's EU Presidency, there is, indeed, a desire for the Church to contribute to protect Human Person's integrity, and I think that there is also a growing Conscience, beyond any polemics, to defend Human Rights, and, thus, contribute to ensure respect for Human Dignity", added to "EuroFora" the Pope's Spokesman, Vatican's Press Director Federico Lombardi.

- "Nobody really told us here that Lisbon Treaty was good for this or that reason to the People. They only told us that we "had" to ratify it, and tried to scare us, but failed", said 2 Irish pilgrims to "EuroFora", after 2 Majority Abstentions in 1999 and 2004 EU Elections and 3 "NO" to Referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005, followed by the Irish "No" in 2008, during a Decade of EU Crisis since the controversial Turkey EU- bid (1999-2008).

More than .."224 cases of Murders, Torture, "Disappearancies" or Destructions" by "agents of Turkish Security forces", where all those responsible for so heavy Crimes still remain scandalously unpunished, despite regular condemnations of Ankara by Strasbourg''s European Court of Human Rights from 1996 to 2008, were examined the same week by CoE's Ministers, who decided to launch a fresh call "urging" the Turkish Authorities to end this dangerous "virtual Impunity" of criminals, without comparison to European countries.

- "Why not Ukraine, instead of Turkey ?", asked EuroFora a Journalist from "Kiev : the city where it's enough to cross the streets in order to realize that it's a European town", as Sarkozy recently said, before solemnly declaring this week, together with Ukranian President Jushenko and EU Commission's chair Baroso, EU's "recognition that Ukraine is a fully European Country, linked to Europe by culture and History".

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Europe's "Christian roots" and Values, with "openess and mutual respect" to other cultures and beliefs, were highlighted by Sarkozy in harmony with Benedict XVI.

The Human person should be protected "from his inception until his natural death", added the Pope, faithful to BioEthic principles defended by his predecessor and collaborator, John Paul II, of topical importance in France, Europe and the World today, as Sarkozy announced :

- "Fast and important progres in Genetic Science and procreation raise delicate BioEthical Questions to our Democracies", which "involve our view of Humans and Life, and can lead to Social Mutations. That's why they cannot remain only a business of experts", hestressed.

- "It's Politician's responsibility to set a proper framework for such Public Debates", as "France will do on BioEthics in 2009". "Religious and Philosophic traditions must take part, with their ideas and centuries' long experience : A positive Laicity is an open invitation to Dialogue", he said.

- "France engaged in Europe at another Debate on how to make Financial Capitalism more moral", and the "Social doctrine of the Church fits well what is at stake in modern Globalized Economy"

- "But, a "Real Dialogue is not for an elite of a Globalized world : It penetrates deep into the People : That's why Churches should actively participate : .. It's bringing New Oxygen to Public Debates", stressed Sarkozy.

- "Democracy must not be cut off Reason", which is "compatible with Faith", thanks to "the meeting between Christianism and Greek philosophy ", he added, referring to Pope's views. "It means to advance with logic arguments, search what's best and respect common principles of thinking :... It's an everyday need for Public Administration and the Political Debate", he added.
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Pope Benedict's 1st visit to France looked like the start of a brillant, manifold demonstration that this was well-founded and could become true in the lives of the People : After its Theoretical foundations unfolded at a "speech to the world of Culture", inaugurating Bernadins' cultural centre, and its dogmatic instrument shaped at an address to the Clergy in the Historic Notre Dame' Cathedral, he started to resolutely reach out to the People :

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The move went upwards like Bach's music : Begining with a call to more than fifteen thousand enthousiastic Youngsters gathered at Notre Dame's parvis with overnight celebrations, it gained strength in an impressive open-air Mass at Paris'central Invalides'area facing Alexander III's bridge, attended by more than 150.000 people, French Prime Minister Fillon, many Ministers, Foreign Ambassadors, etc, and culminated in a series of pan-European Mega-meetings at Lourdes 150th anniversary, together with all French Bishops, EU Commission's vice-Chairman Barrot, and some 200.000 enthousiastic People from all over Europe and beyond : After a Sea of Lights astonishingly braved Saturday Night's rain, an open-air mass at riverside fields among Pyrenees' Mountains Sunday Morning, was followed on Monday by a Sea of "Compassion" to those facing Health or Life threats, surrounded by an endless gathering of People, whose gigantic dimensions obviously surprised the organisers..

Meanwhile, Benedict had the occasion to speak to the French Priests at Notre Dame of Paris, and with the Bishops at Lourdes, where they prepare a crucial November plenary meeting, due to take important decisions on imminent EU debates and choices about Europe's identity, BioEthics, etc.
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- "A new way of thinking about Laicity has become necessary", agreed the Pope with President Sarkozy at Elysee. While keeping the "distinction between Politics and Religion, to guarantee Citizens' Liberty", "religion is important for shaping Consciousness and contributing, together with others, to create a basic Ethical Consensus in society".

- "Searching Essential realities", (as "God" for christians), needs "Speech : "Logos" in greek, i.e. Reason", "able to shape a Community","with creative work transforming Human History". But "Dialogue" is instrumental for "Reason", because it's the way to "search" for Truth", in "Liberty", according to Greek Platonic Philosophy, with Socrates' dialectics. "Reason" implies "Spirit and Liberty", hence the polyphonic "Music" of "Dialogue", in a responsible, "well balanced" way, to avoid "destruction".

Starting with a "Dialogue between christians and intellectual or artistic movements" highlighted at Bernardins' Cultural Center. with former Presidents Chirac and Giscard d'Estain, UNESCO's chair Anastassopoulos, etc., as well as representatives of Muslim Communities, (including a separate Turkish), after contacts with Jews at Vatican's Embassy, the Pope turned towards the People :

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To French Priests : "Church built on the rock" !
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- Speaking to thousands of French Priests at Notre Dame's Cathedral, Benedict highlighted a solid "Church built on the Rock" of conscious and active persons, transmitting "a lively, energetic and sharp" "God's Speech, actively working on Human History".

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"Praying together" with "representatives of Christian Churches and ecclesiastic communities", (as Orthodoxes, Armenians, Protestants, etc), he called "to reinforce the Unity of the church", against "any form of Division", around Holy Spirit', "the Word","Christ's Justice", and "Love" to fellow- humans : Essentials which "resume all holy scripts", as he said.

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To Young People : "New Horizons"
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To some 15.000 enthousiastic Young People at Notre Dame's parvis, along Seine's river, Benedict spoke about "the Energy of the Holy Spirit" and "the Mystery of the Cross" : - "The Holy Spirit opens New Horizons to Human Intelligence .. and makes it conscious of the real greatness of Christ's sacrifice, dying and resurecting for World's life".

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Some "may slander you as crazy, laugh at you, or even persecute you. But, "the Holy Cross is a symbol of God's love", and "givesmoral strength" : "Witness of People's pains, it's at the same time, a precious, unique expression of their Hopes", he told them at Paris' dawn.

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Invalides' plateau : "People chosen to become God's friends"
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At the 1st open-air Mass in Paris' center area of Invalides, facing the Grand Palais, along the river Seine, during an impressive gathering of more than 150.000, French Prime Minister Fillon, Ministers Alliot-Marie, Bachelot, Dati, Jouyet, Assembly's President Accoyer, Senate's Chair Poncelet, former 1st Lady Bernadette Chirac, former Prime Minister Raffarin, many foreign Ambassadors, and other political personalities were present. (While earlier, from the Socialist opposition, Paris' Mayor Delanoye, artist Robert Hussein a.o. assisted at the Elysee meeting).

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But the "Entry Song" focused on the "People chosen to become God's Friends". The September 11 mass was Dedicated to "Saint Chrysostomus, that great priest of Constantinople", with his "wonderful eloquence and great courage to face challenges", who "made out of despaired and godless people, a people of brothers", opening a possibility to "become all one complete entity", as Pope Benedict reminded.

- "Reason never enters in real contradiction with Faith", stressed Pope Benedict, who prepared his speeches for France during a short Summer rest at Brixen/Bressanone's Seminar, whose Library honors both "Faith and Science".. - "We must use not only our Reason, but also our Faith" : "Get away from Idolatry", "cupidity", "avidity for money, power or even knowledge deviating from essential aims", and other "falses appearances". and "build your Home on the Rock", "with the force that Holy Spirit gives to those who let it act in them", he said to the People of Paris.

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Benedict at Lourdes : - "Become Light (even) in the Dark !"
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- "Our World needs Hope", stressed Pope Benedict, addressing an impressive TorchLight procession at Lourdes' sanctuaries, where a Sea of Lights held by Hundreds of Thousands of People gathered at Pyrenee's Mountains from all over Europe astonishingly kept their flames despite a heavy Rain at a windy Dark Night...

- "150 years earlier (1858 - 2008), ..here, in the cave, ... a simple young girl, Bernadette .. saw a Light". "The everyday life of her Family was, however, made of Misery, Sadness, Sickness, Misunderstandings, Rejection and Poverty... It was hard to live in Jail". Today, "we think to all Human Beings who suffer : The innocent Victims who face Violence, War, Terrorism, Hunger, Injustices, Catastrophes, Hate and Oppression, Violations of Human Dignity and of their fundamental Rights, of their Liberty to act and think. We also think to those who face Familial problems, sufferings from Unemployment, Sickness, Infirmity, Isolation, or their situation as Immigrants, without forgetting those who suffer and die for the name of Christ", he said.

- "But the Shadows of the Earth, did not hinder Sky's Light to shine : <<The Light shines in the Dark>>" ..."A Way full of Light opens in Human History even in its Darkest moments" : ..."As Night falls, Christ tels us : <<- Keep your Lamps alight !>>."Hold a Light while walking in the Night .. sums up our condition as Christians on their way : "We need light, and we are called to become Light !", Benedict stressed to People setting in motion Lights, Flags and Songs with enthousiasm.

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"<<- She looked at me as a Person, who speaks to another Person>>, the poor girl had noted."Light emerges from such a Dialogue", stressed the Pope : "A small Flame called Hope, Compassion and Tenderness dwells inside those who return after being moved by Lourdes' experience". "Christ .. entrusts us with the Mission to let the Light of Charity shine : To make of our Prayers an Act of Love to our brothers and to Fraternal Charity", he concluded.

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(../..)

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