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Scheffer and his heritage21.07.2009 | 23:06
On July 20 Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, current NATO Secretary General stated that neither Georgia nor Ukraine were ready to join the North Atlantic bloc yet. Like Anders Fogh Rasmussen who will be NATO's next Secretary General soon Scheffer highlighted that it was important for NATO to settle relations with Russia now.
"NATO has always relied on a fundamental principle that every European country has a right to apply for NATO membership, - Scheffer is quoted by VZGLYAD. - However the states that are willing to join the bloc must comply with the NATO requirements". According to the Secretary General the internal political situation in Ukraine is "complicated to put it diplomatically", in Georgia it is "neither simple".
"The desire of the countries' authorities does not mean they will be automatically admitted in the alliance, and the situation is unlikely to change in the near future", - Scheffer emphasized. A honey drop for Kiev and Tbilisi was the Secretary General's phrase that NATO and the two ex-Soviet republics had agreements that stipulate annual sessions for determination of mutual cooperation status.
Scheffer was much more enthusiastic about NATO-Russia relations highlighting that Brussels and Moscow should resume full-scale cooperation. "Current level of development is not satisfying to both parties, and there are much more directions for cooperation than differences", - the Secretary General is quoted on First Channel. Scheffer is convinced that NATO and Russia need each other more than they are ready to acknowledge sometimes. "I foretell that during the new security system creation the number of issues that are of mutual interest will grow, - he noted. - This process will not eliminate the differences over such issues as the number of armed forces in Europe and around Georgia. But I believe we are capable of taking our relations to a new level, and we must do that".
Thus Jaap de Hoop Scheffer who steps down on July 31 is leaving a wide area for maneuvers to his successor - Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Resumption of Russia-NATO Council sessions, advances over the Afghan issue, reduction in nuclear potential and drug control are the merit of the current Secretary General to some extent. Curiously enough Moscow expects a more decisive move forward from Rasmussen. "He is a creative person and it will be possible to seek radically new approaches to our relations with him", - Newsru.com quotes Russia's NATO Envoy Dmitry Rogozin. - I doubt that as the Secretary General he will be somebody's puppet. He is capable of bright ideas of his own and their efficient implementation". According to Rogozin Denmark's ex Prime Minister will have more political opportunities to deal with European capitals. "I'm looking forward to meeting the new Secretary General hoping for mutual understanding and that he will be able to fix all the faults in the Russia-NATO Council's newest history", - Russia's NATO Envoy summed up.
Rasmussen, not yet in office, is receiving a certain advance. By the way he already had time to share his views on dialogue with Moscow emphasizing he would focus on improvement of contacts with Russia. "They should not treat NATO like an enemy; the organization is not aimed at Russia". - Rasmussen recently assured.
However it's not the time to speak about enmity or friendship yet. It's true that Moscow as Dmitry Rogozin once metaphorically observed "is ready to show cards" but on condition that the alliance stops moving with "the cold war" inertia. Naturally something has to be done with the stumbling block in Russia-NATO relations - the Georgian problem. As long as the issue that has caused breakdown of political ties between Moscow and the alliance in August 2008 is hanging in the air, there will be no visible result of the intended "reset".
Nevertheless some politologists believe this problem is easily solvable. As Alexey Malashenko, a Carnegie Moscow Center analyst told RBC the pro-American regimes ruling in Ukraine and Georgia as a result of "color revolutions" backed by the Bush administration have inter alia proved their "complete ungovernability" over these years. "Restraining Russia with the help of Saakashvili and Yushenko has been a failure but driving the Russia-US relations (and consequently Russia-NATO ties, - A.G.) to the most severe crisis since the end of the cold war has been quite a success.
Well, Scheffer has completed his mission and is stepping down leaving Rasmussen cards to play. (Photo by Reuters)