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Moscow and Tbilisi set their own hopes on Rasmussen04.08.2009 | 19:16
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a Dane, has officially taken over as the NATO Secretary General. He already revealed his priorities saying he will focus on solution to the Afghan problem and improvement of relations with Russia. However, Tbilisi sets particular hopes on the alliance's new secretary general.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen who followed Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, a Dutch, as NATO Secretary General was quick to come down to business marking distinct directions of his activities from global issues like creation of the North Atlantic bloc concept to more specific ones that lie at the bottom of the alliance's policies. This is struggle against international terrorism and resumption of full-fledged cooperation with Russia.
Remarkably, the new Secretary General expresses his vision in harsh and straightforward terms.
"If we want to maintain defense capacity in the future we need to reform armed forces, enhancing their operational and combat capacity", - Rasmussen is quoted on Ekho Moskvy. - For instance the so-called rapid reaction forces were established a few years ago but they remain mostly understaffed". The Secretary General also declared himself as an extreme pragmatist. Thus in an interview with a Danish newspaper he spoke about his intention to work on maximum security for NATO member states and readiness to cooperate with moderate forces in Islamic world, - Deutsche Welle reports.
As for the coming "reset" in NATO-Russia relations widely discussed in mass media, before taking office Rasmussen said: "In my new line of duty I'm going to focus on improvement of relations with Moscow, - VZGLYAD quotes. - Russia must not take NATO as an enemy as the organization is not aimed at Russia". Now the new Secretary General ranks dialogue with Russia second in the list of priorities preceded only by the Afghan issue. By the way The North Atlantic bloc broke an almost year long pause in dialogue with Moscow due to the emerged need of Russian "land" corridor to Afghanistan. That's why it's easy to guess that two top priorities in Rasmussen's program are closely interconnected.
Moscow grasps the situation and tries to make the best of it. Recently Russia's NATO Envoy Dmirtry Rogozin underlined that respect for Moscow should be "planted", Russian News Service reports. "The task of our diplomacy now is not to foment terror and fear but try to keep our potential enemy from consolidating, to keep it disintegrated, and act in such a way as to push our ideas onto the Western market", - Rogozin believes. - We need respect through perception of the other as a strong and worthy partner".
It is expected that Moscow will first of all resume a difficult talk on South Caucasus and possibility of Georgia's potential NATO membership. By the way official Tbilisi has already acclaimed Rasmussen's new appointment expressing hope that Georgia would be able to join NATO at the time of the Dane's secretaryship. "The New SG has a sound stand on Georgia, - Rosbalt reports the statement by State Minister of Europe and Euro-Atlantic integration Georgy Baramidze. - When Rasmussen was Denmark's PM this country was actively promoting Georgia's accession into NATO at Bucharest summit". Rasmussen will most probably have to witness a new wave of Russian-Georgian confrontation on NATO issue. It is not a secret that Tbilisi is yearning to join NATO and the Kremlin is not content with the role of a casual observer in the alliance. Not long ago Deputy Secretary of Russia's Security Council Vladimir Nazarov emphasized that Russia was not striving for the right of veto for admitting new states in NATO but the alliance should reckon with Moscow's voice discussing its new strategic concept and NATO's global role, ITAR-TASS reports.
Time will show if the new NATO SG will be able to bypass this "knot of contradictions" in building up his strategy toward Russia and Georgia. So far Moscow expresses willingness to get better acquainted with Rassmussen inviting him in. "We would like to hear him say he is personally ready to do something even beyond his status in order to normalize relations between the alliance and Russia", - Dmitry Rogozin said. Well, there is not much time left to wait. Anders Fogh Rasmussen will see Moscow in autumn.