|Thursday, 26 May 2016|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 189, 01-10-05
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 189, 5 October 2001
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN OPPOSITION THREATENS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCESpeaking in the town of Martuni on 4 October, opposition Hanrapetutiun party Chairman Albert Bazeyan warned that Hanrapetutiun and its allies, the People's Party of Armenia and the National Unity Party, may resort to unspecified acts of civil disobedience if their campaign to impeach President Robert Kocharian fails, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The three parties, which between them have less than 20 seats in the 131-seat parliament, began lobbying deputies in an attempt to raise the required two- thirds majority to begin impeachment proceedings (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 2001). LF
 ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT 'BORROWS' FROM PRIVATIZATION FUNDS TO PAY FOR NUCLEAR FUELThe Armenian government approved on 4 October the "temporary" use of $4 million from the proceeds of privatization as an advance payment for a new consignment of nuclear fuel from Russia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Under an agreement reached in late August between the Armenian and Russian governments, Armenia was to pay $4 million immediately and the remaining $9 million over a period of three months. The $4 million will be repaid to the state treasury within two weeks following the receipt of a new $4 million loan from the CIS Interstate Bank. The delay has led to a further postponement in reactivating the Medzamor nuclear power station that was shut down for maintenance in July. LF
 TURKISH GOVERNMENT PUBLISHES ARMENIAN ANTHOLOGYThe Turkish government has funded publication of an anthology of Armenian literature and travel notes in order to help promote reconciliation between the two countries, AFP reported on 4 October, quoting the Anatolia Press Agency. Turkish Culture Minister Istemihan Talay wrote in a preface to the anthology that it "provides valuable insights into the culture and history of Armenian literature." It is not clear whether the volume contains works by those Armenian writers who were victims of the 1915 genocide. LF
 AZERBAIJANI DEFENSE MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO TURKEYVisiting Turkey on 1-3 October, Azerbaijan's Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiev met with his Turkish counterpart Sabahattin Cakmakoglu and Chief of General Staff General Huseyn Kvirikoglu to discuss developing further the ongoing close cooperation between the two countries' armed forces, Turan and ANS TV reported. Abiev also met on 2 October with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who stressed the need to strengthen stability in the South Caucasus and to resolve the Karabakh conflict, according to Turkish TRT-2 Television, as cited by Groong. Sezer also noted that the views of Turkey and Azerbaijan on the need to prevent terrorism coincide. LF
 ABKHAZ TROOPS PURSUE RETREATING CHECHEN, GEORGIAN FIGHTERS...Abkhaz troops deployed artillery and armor on 4 October and succeeded in retaking the village of Giorgievskoe that had been seized the previous day by a group of between 400-500 Georgian guerrillas and Chechen fighters, Caucasus Press reported, citing Abkhaz Defense Minister Vladimir Mikanba (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2001). Major General Nikolai Sidorichev, commander of the CIS peacekeeping force deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, said on 5 October that the group is retreating northward toward the frontier between Georgia and Kabardino- Balkaria, and that Abkhaz troops are pursuing them. Russian border guards are preparing to prevent the armed men from entering Russian territory. LF
 ...AS DEATH TOLL RISESMikanba said on 5 October that the death toll in the 3 October fighting has risen to five -- one Abkhaz serviceman and four civilian residents of the village whose nationality is not known. The village population is predominantly Pontic Greek and Armenian. He added that the noses and ears of the civilians had been cut off. Mikanba and Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba said two of the assailants, one Georgian and one Chechen, were captured on 4 October and have been taken to Sukhum where they are being interrogated. Mikanba characterized the situation in Giorgievskoe on 5 October as calm but tense, Caucasus Press reported. LF
 GEORGIAN MILITARY DENIES ANY FIGHTING TOOK PLACE...Interfax and Caucasus Press on 4 October quoted Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Djoni Pirtskhalaishvili as dismissing the reports of fighting in Giorgievskoe as "disinformation," and saying that the headquarters of the CIS peacekeeping force had similarly confirmed that no fighting had taken place. But Giorgi Baramidze, chairman of the Georgian parliament's Committee for Defense and Security, told journalists the same day that fighting had indeed occurred. Baramidze proposed establishing a commission to investigate the incident, Caucasus Press reported. LF
 ...WHILE MOSCOW CALLS ON TBILISI TO PREVENT 'TERRORISTS' FROM OPERATING NEAR ZONE OF GEORGIAN-ABKHAZIAN CONFLICTThe Russian Foreign Ministry on 4 October called on the Georgian government to immediately prevent "a group of terrorists that includes Chechens" from operating in the immediate vicinity of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone, Interfax reported. The ministry said that the presence of this group on Georgian territory threatens the stability of the region. PG
 KYRGYZ LEGISLATORS CALL FOR SPECIAL BORDER COMMISSIONAt least 40 of the 60 deputies from Kyrgyzstan's Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament) on 3 October addressed an open letter to President Askar Akaev appealing to him to establish a special government-parliamentary commission to address problems related to Kyrgyzstan's borders with neighboring countries, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. In May the Legislative Assembly called unsuccessfully for the annulment of amendments made in 1999 to a border agreement signed three years earlier by Akaev and Chinese leader Zhao Zemin. Under those amendments, Kyrgyzstan ceded large tracts of territory to China (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June and 7 August 2001). LF
 RUSSIAN STATE DUMA DELEGATION VISITS KYRGYZSTANA Russian State Duma delegation headed by speaker Gennadii Seleznev arrived in Bishkek on 3 October and met the same day with the chairmen of the two parliament chambers, Altai Borubaev and Abdygany Erkebaev, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Seleznev proposed that the Kyrgyz parliament amend the new draft law on the state language to ensure that the rights of the country's Russian-speaking minority are "fully" guaranteed. Meeting with President Akaev the following day, Seleznev pointed out that the requirement that civil servants whose native language is not Kyrgyz be proficient in that language violates international legal norms, Interfax reported. He said such requirements contribute to the ongoing emigration of Russians from Kyrgyzstan. Some 20,000 Russian-speakers left that country last year despite the passage in May 2000 of a special law granting Russian the status of an "official language" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 2000). Akaev hinted that the draft law will indeed be altered, Interfax reported. LF
 TAJIKS DIVIDED OVER RETALIATORY STRIKES AGAINST AFGHANISTANThree points of view have emerged among Tajiks concerning the advisability of international strikes against terrorist bases in Afghanistan, Asia Plus- Blitz reported on 5 October, quoting political scientist R. Gani. The first position is the "European" one, which agrees almost 100 percent with U.S. and European arguments in favor of such strikes. The second is the "Islamic" one, which is outlined in a statement by the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. That view holds that while individual Muslims may have been involved in the 11 September terrorist attacks in the U.S., retaliatory strikes against Muslim countries should be avoided lest they trigger a "clash of civilizations." The third, "national" point of view focuses specifically on the possible repercussions for Tajikistan and for the Tajik-speaking minority in Afghanistan of possible inner political changes in Afghanistan. Its supporters fear that if exiled King Zahir Shah returns to Afghanistan he may resume the process of "Pushtunization" of the country. They therefore call on the international community to provide support for the internationally recognized government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani. It is not clear what percentage of the population sympathizes with which viewpoint. LF
 TURKMENISTAN AGAIN SAYS ITS BASES NOT AVAILABLEMeeting on 4 October with Kazakh Ambassador Amangeldy Zhumabaev, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov again clarified that in line with Turkmenistan's proclaimed neutral status, the country will not facilitate the transportation of troops and weaponry within the framework of strikes on terrorist bases in Afghanistan, or place its military bases at the disposal of any other state, Interfax reported. Turkmenistan is not hindering the transportation of international humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 EU POSTPONES AID CONFERENCE FOR MACEDONIA...The European Union called off a donors aid conference for Macedonia scheduled for 15 October because of the government's failure to implement its part of a peace plan, Reuters reported on 4 October. Chris Patten, the EU commissioner for foreign relations, said in Skopje: "It's absolutely inconceivable the donors conference can take place... I could not possibly get donors to the table in these circumstances and prepared to write large checks in order to support a political agreement that still hasn't been endorsed and implemented." Patten said the situation will be reevaluated later this year or early next year. PB
 ...AS TALKS BETWEEN EU AND MACEDONIAN POLITICIANS END IN FAILUREEfforts in Skopje by Patten and Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, to convince hard-line Macedonian politicians to accelerate the adoption of reforms that will grant ethnic Albanians broader civil rights ended without progress being made on 4 October, Reuters reported. Patten and Solana cancelled a news conference after the talks before heading to a meeting with Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, considered a supporter of the peace process. Patten said: "The last time we were here [in mid- September] we were given assurances about timing which have now been broken. We're disturbed by the amount of time it seems to be taking [to pass constitutional amendments or to grant an amnesty to former rebels]. We think the parliamentary process...given the urgency of the situation, is interminable." The U.S. State Department said on 4 October that "We'd urge the Macedonian parliament to resume debate on the constitutional amendments and urge the members to come to a rapid and positive conclusion." PB
 MACEDONIAN POLICE RETAKE SOME REBEL VILLAGES, LEAVE OTHERSMacedonian security forces reentered some ethnic Albanian villages on 4 October but suspended efforts to move into several others, AP reported. A police official said some units took control of three villages near the northwestern city of Gostivar. But he said police in some mainly ethnic Albanian villages west of Skopje "moved out swiftly because of [a] hostile reception" from the villagers. Police also left a village to the east of Skopje after three hours of talks with the ethnic Albanian leaders who objected to the presence of the Macedonian police. OSCE Chairman Mircea Geoana said after talks with President Trajkovski and Premier Ljubco Georgievski that "we are surprised with the deployment of security forces done this morning in a few villages without the agreement and consultation of the international community. We consider deployment premature and counterproductive." Nikola Popovski, a leading official of the Social Democratic Alliance, said that if key provisions of the peace deal are not implemented in the "next seven to 10 days, the situation could seriously deteriorate." PB
 EU GRANTS MONEY TO MACEDONIAN POWER COMPANYEU Commissioner for Foreign Relations Patten signed an agreement on 4 October granting the Macedonian Power Company some 10.5 million euros ($10 million) in financial aid to help recoup lost output, dpa reported. Patten said the funds will be used to repair damage done to electric energy infrastructure during ethnic fighting in the country. Ilija Filipovski, who will coordinate the funds, said the money will "provide energy for 100,000 houses and the reconstruction of 4,800 houses" for displaced persons. PB
 FORMER YUGOSLAV GENERAL TO SURRENDER TO UN IN DUBROVNIK INDICTMENTThe Montenegrin Information Ministry said on 4 October that Lieutenant General Pavle Strugar is "ready to voluntarily" surrender himself to the UN war crimes tribunal, AP reported. Strugar, 68, is one of four former Yugoslav army commanders named by The Hague tribunal on 2 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2001) in an indictment stemming from civilian deaths in the shelling of Dubrovnik, Croatia, in 1991. He told Montenegrin authorities he "intends to prove his innocence" in front of the tribunal, though it is not clear when he will turn himself in. DW
 SECOND SERBIAN MINE JOINS STRIKEThe strike announced on 3 October at the Kolubara mine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2001) spread to the Kostolac mine 40 kilometers southwest of Belgrade on 4 October, AP reported. The strikers are demanding an end to the freeze on wages in state-owned companies and improved working conditions. Serbian Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic dismissed the miners' demands, saying their monthly wage of 17,000 dinars ($260) exceeds the average state wage by 75 percent. The miners angrily refuted this, claiming they receive only 10,000 dinars per month. DW
 UN CALLS FOR END TO ATTACKS ON SERBS IN KOSOVAUN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged provincial leaders to do more to end violence against Serbs in Kosova in the run-up to the 17 November general elections, Reuters reported on 4 October. In a report to the Security Council, Annan said the number of violent armed attacks on minorities is alarming and included several hand-grenade attacks targeting Serbs and Roma. "This is a defining moment for Kosovo, and I call on all political leaders and representatives of civil society to ensure that the upcoming election campaign is free of violence," he said. DW
 WESTERN GROUPS WARN RULING BOSNIAN PARTY AGAINST MEDIA INTERFERENCE...The Bosnia-Herzegovinian mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it has received "a number of complaints" in recent months about pressure exerted by members of the ruling, multiethnic Social Democratic Party (SDP), Reuters and dpa reported on 4 October. OSCE spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said the complaints are confidential and specific cases cannot be discussed, but that the agency is alarmed by the emerging pattern. Meanwhile, Wolfgang Petritsch, the international community's high representative in Bosnia, expressed surprise at the reports, calling the SDP a party with "a very progressive platform upholding democratic standards," Reuters added. Petritsch's spokeswoman appealed to the Western-backed party, "as well as any other party," to "refrain from pressure on journalists or editors, who must be able to do their jobs freely without any pressure," the agency reported. AH
 ...WHILE MEDIA SALE RAISES FURTHER CONCERNSInternational officials also expressed concern about the sale on 3 October of the largest state-owned printing house, OKO, to the Dnevni Avaz publishing house, saying it may result in Dnevni Avaz having a regional monopoly in print media. The OSCE warned the decision might seriously affect the diversity of news and opinion and reduce the number, quality, and effectiveness of other print outlets in Bosnia. AH
 CROATIAN UNIONS REJECT DRAFT COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT, GOVERNMENT APPROACH TO NEGOTIATIONSThe unions of police employees, customs workers, and employees in the state administration and judiciary have rejected a government draft basic collective agreement, arguing that it reduces the already limited rights of state sector employees, Hina reported on 4 October, just one day ahead of the start of collective bargaining for state services. The unions said they would proffer their own counterproposal based on the collective agreement that was canceled by the government last week, the agency reported. Meanwhile, the Independent Croatian Unions (NHS) accused the government of intending to cut labor and social entitlements, evidenced by the cancellation of collective agreements and planned restrictions in the Labor Code, Hina reported on 4 October. The government intends to shorten the period for notice of termination and reduce severance pay to provide grounds for the dismissal of redundant workers in state administration as well as in the private sector, said NHS head Kresimir Sever. AH
 'KEY PROBLEMS' REMAIN UNSOLVED BETWEEN CROATIA AND YUGOSLAVIAA year after Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic fell from power, Zagreb and Belgrade have made "scant progress in normalizing relations and burying the legacy of war and a decade of enmity," a Reuters analysis argued on 5 October. While ethnic tensions have visibly decreased, the piece cites analysts and former officials as saying that there remain many sticking points to normal bilateral relations. Zeljko Trkanjec, a Croatian political analyst and former Foreign Ministry official, said that "normalization has taken root," but "most key problems are not being resolved." An unnamed Croatian diplomat points to concrete issues like war reparations, missing persons, and the return of Croatian property confiscated by Yugoslavia at the outset of the war. AH
 CROATIAN CABINET PUSHES FOR CURBS ON GOVERNMENT BY DECREEPrime Minister Ivica Racan's cabinet has submitted a proposal to the Croatian parliament that would abandon a long-held practice of government by decree, Hina reported on 4 October. In what has become an annual rite, the Sabor on 28 September passed a law that effectively hands some legislative powers to the government. But even Croatia's ruling parties chafed at its passage this year, and Prime Minister Racan said after a cabinet session on 4 October that extraordinary sessions of parliament could be assembled if legislation requires particularly speedy adoption. He noted that the current government has invoked decrees on only 10 occasions since coming to power in January 2000, versus some 444 decrees and by-laws issued by the HDZ during its decade in power, the agency said. This is the first time since 1991 that the government has requested that it be stripped of such authority, according to Hina. AH
 ALBANIAN EXTRADITION TO U.S.REPRESENTS HISTORICAL FIRST. Albanian authorities have for the first time extradited an individual to the United States, handing over the 24-year-old suspect in the 1997 murder of a New York college student, AP reported on 4 October. Bernardo Martinaj was returned to the U.S. in late September following extensive litigation in which Albanian officials had resisted the efforts of U.S. prosecutors to bring him to trial. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said that while the U.S. has had an extradition treaty with Albania since 1933, this case marks the first time it has ever been successfully invoked. Morgenthau said Martinaj, who had been in the country legally on his mother's asylum visa and was working as a security guard, pulled a knife and fatally stabbed a Yugoslav immigrant and injured another man outside a New York bar. Interpol alerted New York City law enforcement authorities after Martinaj was arrested in Albania on charges of forgery and illegal possession of drugs and ammunition, AP reported. AH
 ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY CHIDES MACEDONIA ON POLICE DEPLOYMENTAlbania warned against the deployment of Macedonian security forces in areas formerly held by ethnic Albanian insurgents, dpa reported on 4 October. The country's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it is concerned with the Macedonian National Security Council's decision to send police into such areas following the recent disarming of the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army, the agency added. The ministry said the move ran "counter to the spirit and objectives of [the] Ohrid agreement" and could undermine efforts at peace and political stability in Macedonia. AH
 HUNGARIAN PREMIER TURNS PRIVATE ROMANIAN VISIT INTO MEDIA EVENT...Viktor Orban on 4 October attended in Oradea the inauguration of Partium Christian University, the second private Hungarian-language university in Romania launched this week, a local RFE/RL correspondent reported. The university is affiliated with the Hungarian Reformed Church. Orban told the audience "a 1,000-year-old culture should not ask if it can survive, but how it can continue." He said, "The time has come for reestablishing unity between the [Hungarian] nation and mother country... The Hungarian nation from the entire Carpathian region must participate in the [joint Magyar] social, cultural, and economic life." For that purpose, Orban said, "joint cultural and spiritual institutions are needed." In response to a journalist's question, Orban said that if the joint Hungarian Romanian commission on national minorities reaches no consensus, the implementation of the Status Law "will go ahead as of 1 January 2002." MS
 ...AS ROMANIAN EDUCATION MINISTER RETURNS INVITATION TO ATTENDThe Romanian Foreign Ministry on 4 October summoned the Hungarian ambassador to Bucharest, Istvan Ijgyarto, in order to return the invitation that Romanian Education Minister Ecaterina Andronescu received from her Hungarian counterpart Joszef Palinkas to attend the inauguration of the university in Oradea. A ministry spokesman said a Hungarian minister cannot invite a Romanian counterpart to an event taking place in Romania. The spokesman said Andronescu will instead invite Palinkas to meet her in Miercurea-Ciuc, Transylvania. MS
 ROMANIAN TRIBUNAL HEEDS APPEAL OF PEASANTIST LEADERA Bucharest court on 4 October heeded the appeal of the Victor Ciorbea wing in the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) against a lower court's refusal on 23 August to register the merger of the PNTCD with the National Alliance Christian Democratic. The court sent the case back to the Bucharest Tribunal for reexamination, Mediafax reported. MS
 NEARLY 300 ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS WERE SECURITATE INFORMERSGheorghe Onisoru, chairman of the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives, on 4 October said that the council has discovered records of 270 journalists having acted as informers of the former communist secret police. Onisoru refused to say whether the former informers are still active in the mass media, Romanian television reported. MS
 MOLDOVAN PREMIER SAYS CABINET HAD 'NO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE' OF MOREI SPEECH IN STRASBOURGPrime Minister Vasile Tarlev on 4 October said that the Moldovan government had not preapproved the declarations made in Strasbourg by Justice Minister Ion Morei, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The Romanian government canceled Premier Adrian Nastase's scheduled visit to Moldova in protest against the speech Morei made the previous day, and said the Moldovan justice minister had "not merely expressed his private opinion" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2001). Tarlev said he will respond to the Romanian government only after examining Morei's statements. Foreign Minister Nicolae Dudau said that "relations with Romania remain privileged." In Bucharest, President Ion Iliescu said on 4 October that the Moldovan government's attitude toward the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church is "incorrect and discriminatory." Iliescu also said Moldova will have to apologize for Morei's statements. Moldovan opposition leaders harshly criticized Morei's speech. Iurie Rosca, chairman of the pro-Romanian Popular Party Christian Democratic, said Morei's speech in Strasbourg had "shown the true face of communist rule in Moldova" and that President Vladimir Voronin's "advisers" are "incapable of understanding that relations with Romania are crucial for Moldova." Former President Mircea Snegur said Morei's statements "show a return to Stalinist mentality." MS
 OSCE SUBMITS PLAN TO DISPOSE OF RUSSIAN MUNITIONS IN TRANSDNIESTERWilliam Hill, the head of the OSCE mission to Moldova, on 4 October said in Vienna that the OSCE has completed preparations for and launched the project for the destruction of 40,000 tons of weapons and ammunition in the Transdniester, Reuters reported. Hill said that "even before 11 September, this stock of ammunition was a temptation and an object of interest for a number of groups around the world...that possess older equipment dating back to the Soviet era -- especially insurgents, rebels, or terrorist groups." He said that Russia has already begun disposing of the stockpile, but that the cache still constitutes a potential risk for the town where it is stored. MS
 NATO CANDIDATES IN SOFIA SAY EXPANSION WILL HELP FIGHT AGAINST TERRORThe so-called Vilnius Group of 10 NATO candidate countries, meeting in Sofia on 5 October, said in a joint statement that the 11 September terrorist attacks on the U.S. have added a sense of urgency to their arguments for joining the alliance, international agencies reported. The heads of state from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, and Slovakia said expanding NATO to absorb countries in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states will help the world in the struggle against global terrorism. Addressing the gathering, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said the 11 September terrorist attacks has "neither derailed the enlargement process, nor slammed NATO's door shut." Robertson added: "The strong logic of enlargement must be matched by the effort needed to make that happen. Aspirant countries must meet NATO's political and military standards before they can be admitted." MS
 EU URGES BULGARIA TO INTEGRATE ROMANY MINORITYIn Sofia on 4 October, the head of the Bulgarian division in the EU's General Directorate for Enlargement urged Bulgaria to increase efforts to integrate the country's Romany minority and said Bulgaria should improve nuclear safety as part of its accession efforts, Reuters reported. "The Roma issue is a serious and complex one, not only in Bulgaria," said Morten Jung-Olsen. "These are conditions Europe and Bulgaria have nothing to be proud of," he said, adding that the minority must be integrated "as fully- fledged members of society." MS
[C] END NOTE
 NATO IN THE WAKE OF 11 SEPTEMBERBy Christopher Walker
The watershed of 11 September -- as the coordinated terrorist attack against the United States unquestionably was -- has altered virtually all previous assumptions and calculations in international politics.
The shifting global landscape is having an especially important impact on the NATO alliance. In the days since the attacks, NATO invoked for the first time in its history Article 5 of the NATO charter, declaring the attacks on the U.S. to be an attack on the alliance. On 3 October, Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, presented a formal request to the North Atlantic Council, NATO's decision-making body, asking for use of military bases, seaports and airspace. Ambassador Burns also requested use of the alliance's fleet of 17 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, among other items.
NATO has been working to arrive at a viable, unified response to terrorism, while managing a full range of other important issues on its agenda, including further enlargement of the alliance. The NATO enlargement discussion is being altered considerably due to the sheer magnitude of the terrorism issue, on the one side, and the apparent need to accommodate Russia, on the other.
Two NATO-related meetings have been scheduled -- one on 5 October in Sofia, Bulgaria, the other starting on 6 October in Ottawa, Canada -- that reflect the new currents that have been running through international politics since 11 September.
In Bulgaria, heads of state from NATO candidate countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) are gathering for a summit that was originally intended to put the enlargement cause on the front burner. However, in light of changed international realities, the meeting is expected to have a different focus, namely NATO's place in the international coalition against terrorism.
In Canada, the four-day meeting of NATO's Parliamentary Assembly will focus on the issue of global terrorism.
Just over a year from now, at the Prague NATO summit planned for November 2002, a decision will be taken on how many new members will be invited to join the alliance. Earlier this year, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson removed doubt about enlargement moving forward next year when he took the so-called "zero option" off the table, indicating that at least one candidate country will be invited at the Prague summit to join the alliance.
The possible enlargement permutations range from a strategy of maximum caution -- extending an invitation only to tiny Slovenia and, perhaps, Slovakia (the "Slo-Slo" formulation) -- to the other end of the enlargement continuum, the so-called "Big Bang," which would take an entire group of candidate countries into the alliance in one stroke.
It is the menu of options beyond Slovenia and Slovakia -- in particular those that include the Baltic states -- that would under any circumstances require skillful diplomatic bargaining to overcome Russian opposition. But the recent change in relations among major powers as a response to recent events, in particular between Moscow and Washington, raises the question of whether the balance has already shifted toward the less ambitious end of the continuum. Washington is the recognized center of gravity in determining how energetic an effort will be made in pushing anything beyond the "Slo-Slo" enlargement route.
One must also consider whether Russia would be receptive to more than the "Slo-Slo" candidates in 2002, on the condition that the second round of enlargement not include the Baltic states and that, in view of the situation in Chechnya, Georgia would not be considered in future rounds. Perhaps in a bid to preempt such a tradeoff, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze argued in a speech at Harvard University on 3 October that "NATO needs further strengthening, because it is the cornerstone of establishing humanistic values and stability in the Eurasian region. Therefore, seeking NATO membership is an unalienable right of each and every democratic state in Europe. Thus, to draw any red lines on the continent is completely unacceptable in present circumstances."
Of course, all of these calculations are contingent upon a very dynamic and unresolved set of assumptions; indeed, Moscow's own role vis-a-vis NATO is being reexamined in light of the Russian contribution to the counterterrorism effort. Indicative of the significant shifts occurring below the surface of the political and diplomatic landscape were the meetings between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and President Vladimir Putin with NATO officials in Brussels on 26 September and 3 October respectively. During that visit to Brussels, President Putin said Moscow could reconsider its opposition to NATO enlargement if NATO were to become a political organization and if Russia were involved more in the consultations of the alliance.
Here, too, the American response is pivotal. To a larger degree than any other single country, the United States will decide both how Moscow's role with NATO will evolve and how extensive future rounds of alliance enlargement will be.
The immediate showing of solidarity and offering of assistance from tried and true friends, sometime friends, and even some erstwhile foes have been encouraging for the United States so far. What President George W. Bush has described as the "first war of the 21st century" surely requires an intensive effort to line up previously untapped sources of cooperation. But in the scramble to stamp out the diabolical groups that threaten the civilized world, the West will need to consider just how high a price it is willing to pay over the long term to win this global war.
Christopher Walker is head of policy and communication in the president's office at the EastWest Institute in New York.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty