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Haupt 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 ?

Geschrieben von 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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 imag0972_400


    Scientific innovation joined to Faith for Human Rights, Eastern Partnership and fight against the Crisis, but above all, the need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" from EU Citizens, are the main priorities for new EU Parliament's President, Polish Jerzy Buzek, that a 555-votes-strong majority of MEPs on July 14,  Strasbourg made a living symbol of the fact that, 20 years after the fall of Berlin Wall (1989 - 2009) there is no more an Eastern or Western Europe, but only one Europe, as the head of the largest group of MEPs, ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Joseph Daul, stressed after the event.

    Speaking later to a group of Strasbourg's Journalists, including "EuroFora", the new EU Parliament's President clarified his stance on concrete topical issues, as f.ex. that of Turkey's controversial EU bid, which was one of the main issues of the June 2009 Electoral campain, clearly won by his party of ChristianDemocrats/EPP :  - "At present, Turkey does not fullfil none of EU conditions", he stressed, (See infra).

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    Buzek is well known in Strasbourg and to "EuroFora" as EU Rapporteur for the Framework Program of Scientific Research and Development of Technologies. A Natural Science Professor from the Historic and Religious landmark Polish City of Częstochowa, active in the famous Solidarnosk grass-roots social movement, he served 4 years as Prime Minister (1997-2001), before being elected as MEP in 2004 and 2009, after he brillantly won the latest EU Election at the head of his party (EPP) almost doubling the number of its MEPs from 15 to 28 !

    - "Innovation" and "Energy safety", as well as fight against the "Cimat change", but also "Eastern Partnership", the "Mediterranean", "Strategic partnerships" with Russia, the USA, etc, and the search for "solutions to the Economic Crisis" that EU Citizens "expect" from us, will be his "priorities", announced from the outset the new EU Parliament's President, reminding also that the quest for "Human and Civic Rights" played an important role in his experience with the Solidarnosc grass-roots social movement in Poland's History

    But, the most important of all, is the urgent need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" between EU Institutions and the People he stressed : - EU "Citizens often don't understand us", denounced Buzek, launcing a call to "do anything for EU Citizens to understand our work" in EU Parliament : "We (MEPs) need to make EU Citizens involved" in "what we are doing every week, in Strasbourg and Brussels", he proposed. Pointing f.ex. to the hot "Debates" with "strong arguments" exchanged between MEPs during the preparation of their Legislative Decisions, in Committees, delivering often hard struggles between initially opposed points of view, long before forging a majority at the final vote, sometimes more than a year..

    Therefore, EU Parliament will be "open to your criticism, for discussion and exchange of views", he promissed to Journalists in Strasbourg.

    In this way, Buzek, in fact, highlighted "EuroFora"s main idea, that we strongly advocate since 1997-2007, to systematicaly and actively involve EU Citizens in public debates during the decision-making process of important EU measures, which affect their lives and the society in which they live, (and not only just a few weeks each 4 or 5 Years at the eve of EU Elections)...
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    This is related also to the symbolic gift that Buzek chose to give to the out-going former EU Parliament's President, Hans Gert Poettering, (2007-2009), his collegue in the ChristianDemocrats/EPP, who brillantly won 2009 EU Elections in Germany : A genuine statute of sainte Barbara crafted in Silesia's black Coal by Polish Miners : Those simple but strong people who fought for social change against some technocrats and bureaucrats disguissed into so-called "real-socialists" of old times. (PHOTO).

    It's enough to have seen a popular open air mass, at Warsaw's center, with many thousands of people, old and young, simple workers and intellectuals mixed together, with references to Poland's history and struggles for survival and liberty, through various ages, (as fex. that organized at the eve of CoE's 2005 panEuropean Heads of State and Government for the beatification of late Pope John-Paul II), in order to understand what such symbols mean..

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    But, overcoming the "Crisis of Trust" with EU Citizens obviously implies also to rectify any errors done in the past, fex. on Turkey's controversial EU bid, with controversial decisions taken in 1999 and 2004 to give a "candidate" status and to start EU negotiations, provoking an unprecedented series of 3 "No" to EuroReferenda and 3 Majoriy Abstentions in EU Parliament Elections : 1999, 2005 and 2009, (even if the latest one succeeded to decelerate and almost stop the drop of participation rates, opening hopes for vote's revival after an electoral campaign clearly critical to Turkey's claims in several mainstream EU countries)
    
    Therefore, Buzek was faced with manifold critical Questions on EU Enlargement, most of them citting concrete examples of certain political problems  :  But his replies were almost always given as a matter of general principle :

    F.ex. Questioned on the suspension of EU - Croatia talks because of a Border conflict with EU Member Slovenia, Buzek prefered to speak about principles :

- "We know that during Enlargement, the process can be blocked by failure to resolve this kind of issues",  This concerns also other enlargments' cases", and "these rules are always in force" he warned.


But Buzek avoided to directly reply to a queston on "French and German EPP' calls to define the Borders of Europe", as a German journalist asked him by making a reference to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angie Merkel's, critical statements on Turkey at the June 2009 Electoral campain.    

- "Concerning Enlargement, there's always the same rules : There have to be Criteria, which have to be respected if a Country wants to join the EU", he started to simply reply.

- "For my country (Poland) it took us 15 Years to fullfil these Criteria", Buzek reminded, indicating, if proportions are kept, that Turkey, fex. would have to spend some 25 years before eventually joining the EU..

- "Countries wishing to join the EU need to Change their Systems", as we (Poland and other former Eastern European Countries) did, he stressed.

- "'For me, meeting the condition of Human Rights is one of the Key conditions for membership in the EU", preferring again to speak from the point of view of General Principles, on the occasion of an untimely question on Serbia (which is not even a candidate yet)...

- "Turkey" has, "first of all", to fullfil (EU) Copenhagen criteria". Bevause, currently, none of them is fullfiled by Turkey", New EU Parliament's President, denounced, speaking later to a group of Journalists, including "EuroFora".

buzek_close_a_400 

In particular, on Human Rights :  - "We (EU) can never forget Human Rights", because "this is at the very Foundations of the EU", Buzek added.

On the contrary, when he referred to EU Enlargment for the  "Western Balkans Countries ", Buzek appeared upbeat, finding "promising situations", despite "difficulties" in the Past, since "Countries are queuing to become EU members", and this "generated changes", as he said.

As for Russia, Buzek observed that it was a "very important" country, located "in the same Continent", Europe,  "close to our borders", and "we need eachother". "But Russia' has 'differend poblems : "They claim that their system is Democratic, but rules are differend", and we must be "aware of such differencies", fex. "on Human Rights", that we can't ignore, as he said;

Concerning China, where a journalist observed that the recipient of EU Parliament's latest "Sakharov prize" for freedom of thought is "still in prison", Buzek found that since the 1999 events in Tien Amin square, "we see differencies on Human Rights still today", and expressed his "support" for those who try to ameliorate the situation.

On the contrary, speaking recently to "EuroFora" he strongly supported the idea for an EU - Ukraine cooperation, fex. between Airbus and Antonov, in order to build a  less costly but more performant than the old and problematic A400M, new Military Transport Airplane : - "They (Ukranian Antonov Company) can certainly do it. I'm sure they can. It's a good Idea, and I'd be glad if it was done", he told us. (See : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/airbusantonov.html )


(../..)

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