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Inicio 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 ?

Escrito por ACM
01.04.09
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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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3 EU Parliament votes to boost EuroGroup !

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After EuroZone Paris Summit's succes, Sarkozy calls to "think anew how to re-construct Europe !

"EuroZone and EU Institutional debates pave the way to 2009 discussions on EU Future, including Enlargment, Turkey etc. ?


23 October 2008

After EU Parliament strongly suppported in 3 successive Votes this week in Strasbourg French EU Chairmanship's move to boost Euro-Group at EU's core, while ideas on EU Institutional problems are awaited on December, "it's an open Question now" if this may lead to a debate on EU's Future, or not, told us French President, Nicolas Sarkozy''s Spokesman, Pierre-Jerome Henin.

MEPs voted on Thursday fresh Funds to support EuroGroup, after adopting on Wednesday a Resolution asking a "further Evolution" to "the 1st ever meeting of Heads of State and of Government of the Euro-Zone, taking decisions in that capacity", while earlier this week a Report asked "a stronger Institutional setting" for "EuroGroup", extended from "competitiveness/industry" to "environment, employment and education", with "increased powers for Political decision-making", according to a text drafted by French MEP Francoise Beres and German MEP Werner Langen, "10 Years after the creation of Euro" (1999 - 2009).

- Brussels' subsequent "EU Council ..(simply)..ratified the measures decided by EuroGroup on October 12" in Paris, which "were necessary to contain the current Financial Crisis", Resolution observes, expressing also support to the new process succesfully initiated by Sarkozy and due to be completed by agreements with USA and other countries at a Global level.

From now on, it's between two differend but parallel moves : EU's delay, and EuroZone's acceleration, that Enlargement and particularly Turkey's controversial EU bid, will have to search its way :

Indeed, EU's 27 expect a "Roadmap on how to deal with the Irish problem" on Lisbon Treaty ratification after December, risking to pass even 2009 Elections and next Commission with the old Nice Treaty of 2000, out-dated and unfit even for 2004's Enlargement...

On the contrary, EU's core launches a real "Economic Governance for EuroZone at the highest level of Heads of State/Government" of the 15, which started in Paris on October 12 and was strongly supported this week in Strasbourg by Sarkozy and EU Parliament.
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- "It's a good idea, to launch such a debate ("on EU's Future") in EU Parliament in view of 2009 Euro-Election : Perhaps some MEPs will seize an opportunity", told us mainstream French MEP Alain Lamassoure, former EU Minister and EU Spokesman for France's governing party UMP.

- "All MEPs' debates on such EU Councils are also part of the larger debate on Europe's future : Now with EuroZone, and even more when, on December, Irish Prime Minister is due to table proposals in Strasbourg on how to deal with EU Treaty's ratification", replied earlier to our question EU Parliament's Press Director and Spokesman, Jaume Duch.
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Sarkozy has formally anounced his intention to open EU Debates on Economy, Identity/Enlargement (i.e. mainly Turkey), etc. both linked to a popular Political view of Europe, since his Historic speeches on EU in Strasbourg, on February and July 2007, when he stressed that "Europe needs a New Renaissance". At the beginning of the French EU Presidency, on July 2008, replying to a MEP, he suggested that EU Parliament takes an active part in Debates on EU's Future.

- Now, in 2008, "Crisis are an opportunity to re-think how to re-construct Europe", Sarkozy stressed. At any case, the Historic 1st EuroZone Summit of Heads of State/Government, which started replying to the Financial crisis,"is a Turning Point : After that, Europe cannot be governed as before, but differently" : People "like a Europe with Strong Will".

- "We must make the System move !", "Europe needs Innovation" and free political debates. EU "Elections are in a few Months", Sarkozy warned.

He invited EU Parliament to fully play its role as "the Democratic Heart of the Europe we want : United, Independent and Voluntarist, because the World needs Europe's voice".

- "It's no more possible for Euro-Zone to continue without an Economic Government" at the Highest Level of Heads of State/Government, who provide "Democratic Legitimity" and can take important decisions, he announced, strongly supported by EU Parliament's Economic Committee which just voted to boost the "Institutional" aspects of "EuroGroup".

Plasticity offered by the current absence of a special Treaty on EuroZone's Institutions "made it easy to adapt the organization of the 1st Summit with imagination, to efficiently meet urgent needs", he observed, on the occasion of Brittish Prime Minister's exceptionnal presence at the greatest part of EuroGroup's Paris Summit.

- "In EuroZone we have the same Bank, the same Money, and, thus, a same duty for Unity" : "By bringing together EuroGroup's 15 members States we suceeded to find a solution and prepare a Giant Plan of 1.800 Billion euros", Sarkozy reminded of Paris' 1st Historic EuroZone's Summit.

Afterwards, Brussels' EU Council followed the move, and USA's Paulson II Plan was inspired from that. "Europe must promote the idea of Global Economy's Refoundation", he stressed.

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- "I was frankly astonished when I found, at the EU, a rigid system, where any New Idea was seen from the outset as a sacrilege, while, on the contrary, Europe needs Innovation !", he described.

F.ex. ,"'When we first spoke about the "Union for the Mediterranean", it was misunderstood as something extraordinary.. When later we had the Russia -Georgia crisis, it seemed against EU's custom to act "in the middle of August", instead of staying a passive spectator ! And when, in front of the Financial ciris, we gathered the 1st EuroZone Summit of the "15", some thought of it as a lese-majesté", he denounced.
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On Geo-Political Principles :
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- But, by moving resolutely, "EU obtained the ...withdrawal of Occupation Troops in 2 Months !", reminded Sarkozy, observing that Russia "fulfilled its commitments", in the Georgian crisis, where a "disroportionate reaction" from Moscow followed a "totally inappropriate action" from Tbilisi's troops. "It would be crazy to reply by military means : EU should not become accomplice of another Cold War, imposed by lack of cool heads".. as he said.

In future, "the creation of a common European Economic Area with EU and Russia, would also obtain a raprochment on our Human Rights and Democratic Values", added Sarkozy, in a statement which should logically be applied, a fortiori, to controversial EU "candidate" Turkey..

Particularly when, the same week that EU Parliament voted 2009 EU Funds for Turkey's controversial EU bid, ECHR took a series of judgements condemning Turkey for grave Violations of Human Rights, such as : Torture, death of a political prisoner in unclear circumstances followed by failure to conduct a proper Investigation, "enforced Disappearance" of a youngster aged 17, Killing of a sepherd with Tank Shells, persecuting Journalists for articles on "Missing" People, even a former President of Human Rights' Association, (etc)

- "We (EU) can defend our ideas on respect of Sovereignity and territorial Integrity, on Human Rights and other differences ... without confrontation", Sarkozy stressed, on the occasion of Russian/Georgian conflict, reminding that : "we were only 2 steps from catastroph", when a Peace agreement brokered in Moscow prevented, at the last minute, Russian troops' advance towards Tbilisi.

An EU Parliament Resolution adopted Wednesday in Strasbourg on the occasion of Russia - Georgia conflict, outlines a set of Principle which apply elsewhere too, (particularly when EU Rapporteur for Russia and Turkey is one and same person ; Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijtanen !)

Clearly rejecting any "military solution to the conflicts", MEPs "condemn ..all those who resorted to force and violence". They denounce a "disproportionate military action", "as well as (an) unilateral decision to recognise the independence" of brekaway regions, "calling.. to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of the concerned country, "and the inviolability of its borders recognised by all EU Member States". They warn that "EU must review its policy towards" a 3rd Country, "should .(it)...not comply with its commitments", and "stress that the withdrawal of.... troops from the areas ....is an essential additional step".

EU Parliament "calls for the safe and quick return of refugees, (accepted by Russian President Medvedev) accompanied by the deployment of EU observers on the ground", and "regrets ...that ..EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) is not allowed to enter the ...breakaway regions". Moreover, "It's important to ensure that persons and NGOs ..engaged in defending human and civil rights can operate". "Until ...all remaining issues (are) resolved..., and notably the continuing ...Military presence", "relations with the EU ..cannot be fully normalised", MEPS warned.

As nobody likes to be accused to practice "Double Standards", this should be regarded as "Principles" applicable to any Third Country at EU's Neighborhood.. No ?

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On Economy :

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- "When Financial crisis shook US and EU's Banks, without result from the 1st (American) Paulsen plan, it was the common reply of the 1st EuroZone's Summit, involving some 1800 Billion euros, which started a positive move in the markets, soon strengthened by the follow-up of the US Paulson 2 Plan, noted Sarkozy.

- "Europe should not be only on the defensive, but, if necessary, know also how to take an offensive", he said, brushing away hesitationsto act on Economy: - "I'm for a refondation of Capitaliism, but against Speculators, who betray its values" : "Lack of Rules was profitable to speculators, Not to businessmen !" We must make sure to prevent any such crisis in future". "We, the rest of the World, cannot continue to bear the deficits of the 1st World power without saying anything !", the French President said, applauded by EU Parliament. All this needs "a New Global Governance", on which EU Parliament must debate. That's why "we proposed together with USA, several Summits from mid-November", to which G-8, enlarged to China, India a.o. countries, should participate. UNO's SG; Ban Ki Moon, the IMF, etc.

Financial crisis lowered shares' prices even for healthy companies, sometimes to 1/3 of their initial price, so that strangers might buy EU industries for only a portion of their real value, and Europeans may wake up one day with their main industries sold out to foreigners !

That's one of the reasons for which EU should debate about creating "Golden Shares" for States to jointly take Strategic participations to help European Industries until the end of the Crisis, particularly against distording competition, he suggested, pointing at USA's 35 billion $ plan for American Car Industry."We shall struggle for Europe to be able to build Airplanes, Ships, Trains, Cars, because we need a strong Industry", he concluded.

"F.ex. as we did back in 2004, when as Finance Minister, we bought Alsthom's shares for 800.000 euros, and, after restructuring, we sold them for 2 Millions : Help a company and make money is not so bad"...

As for the UK, "when Ireland announced that it would guarantee only Irish Banks, London City emptied from liquidities in 24 hours : It's the EU which helped to restore the situation, Not the UK alone !", reminded Sarkozy to nationalist British MEP Nigel Farage.

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On the contrary, in a last-minute attempt for the EU to catch-up with its Institutional delay "before the European Elections" of June 2009, MEPs simply voted a call for a "set of proposals" to be made for the "Irish public opinion" at the end of the year...

- "As long as Lisbon Treaty is not ratified by all 27 EU Member States, there is an unanimous decision to stop Enlargement, reminded Wednesday in Strasbourg the French Minister for EU affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet..

Added to an indirect but clear warning that, without Lisbon Treaty, all 27 EU Member Countries may not have a Commissioner in the 2009 resuffle, MEPS in the Constitutional/Foreign affairs Committees applauded hoping that this might motivate their Irish friends..

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