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NATO Summit in Chicago

July 12, 2012 Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Europe, Georgia, Karabakh, Turkey No Comments
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12:16, July 12, 2012

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (Turkey), director of the Center for International and European Studies of Kadir Has University (Istanbul).

Sona Kyurkchyan, www.hetq.am (Armenia)

1. What makes the Chicago Summit different from the previously held NATO summits, what was its final outcome?

Nothing really other than the fact that it was held in President Obama’s hometown during an election year. It also came at the heels of the more groundbreaking Lisbon Summit of 2010 which launched a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. It seems that although it was the first post-Arab Spring Summit and post Libya operation Summit, this wasn’t enough to produce major news except maybe to reaffirm that NATO is adrift with the European allies unable or unwilling to contribute more in terms of resources to the Alliance. The European allies can deploy only about 5 percent of their troops for NATO operations.

2. How does NATO intend to act in the future if not all Alliance members agree to conducting operations in this or that region? Has the Chicago Summit considered the precedence of some members’ refusal to participate in the operations against Libya?

I would tend to agree with the assessment of Thomas Ries who in a recent article suggested that the result of the inability of the European allies to contribute in a coherent manner to the evolving global security environment is “a lost alliance: unable to orient itself, unable to look forward, unable to specify vital strategic interests beyond basic platitudes, unable to agree which future threats to focus on, and unable to generate military forces capable of addressing them.” This growing deficit within NATO is compounded by the shortcomings of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in which many of NATO’s European allies take part.

3. Why after the NATO Summit in Lisbon which was not attended by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan because of the language of adopted resolutions, a document with the same language on the conflicts in the territories of CIS countries was adopted at the Chicago Summit?

NATO is keeping closely to its principles regarding the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all states involved in “protracted” conflicts – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. Armenia could not expect different language in the Chicago Summit Declaration given the makeup of the Alliance’s members and the concerns that many raise regarding the principle of territorial integrity of states. This is also somewhat linked to the development of relations between Russia and NATO and Russia’s uneasiness regarding relations between Armenia and NATO.

Angela Khachatryan, www.1in.am (Armenia)

Have Georgia’s expectations from the Chicago Summit come true and do the adopted documents mean that Georgia will become a country to be admitted into the Alliance in the course of the following stage of NATO enlargement? When do you think such an expansion may take place?

I am not sure that Georgia’s expectations were necessarily met by the Chicago Summit regarding its eventual accession to NATO albeit Secretary Clinton’s remarks that the next Summit would be an enlargement one. Much would depend on the priorities of the next US administration and its relationship with Russia on a variety of global challenges as well as the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Georgia.

Armen Minasyan, www.panorama.am (Armenia)

1. The official Ankara had made a statement against Israel’s participation in the Chicago Summit. Do you think such behavior is in line with NATO principles, if we are to take into consideration the fact that a dialogue at all levels is especially important for ensuring regional security?

Of course, Ankara’s position is not in line with NATO principles. Ankara, in fact, also tried to promote without success the membership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by attempting to change the decision by the Alliance (including Turkey) in the Bucharest Summit of 2008 to the detriment of Greek interests. Nevertheless, Turkey is an important regional security and economic actor and its growing importance needs to be taken into account. Ankara’s perceived isolation from the West on many fronts (ranging from the stalled EU accession process to its difficult neighborhood) suggests that a better understanding of Ankara’s positions need to be considered without implying that these have to be adopted wholesale by the Alliance.

2. What do you think the main outcome of the Chicago Summit was? What place did the issues of NATO enlargement through the admission of new members occupy among the adopted decisions?

The main outcome of the Chicago Summit was that the Alliance is in trouble as it failed to address seriously its strategic imperatives. There is a lack of strategic thinking by the European allies that seem to be more concerned with the threat of the financial/ sovereign debt crisis than their global responsibilities. The Libyan operation brought many of these shortcomings to the fore as the United States bore the bulk of the operation and its costs. The Chicago Summit spent time on other issues such as Afghanistan, future capabilities, and partnerships but none of these could be considered truly strategic. Similarly, the future enlargement of the Alliance was left to the future.

David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am(Armenia)

Were the unresolved conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in particular the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, discussed at the NATO Summit in Chicago? If yes, in what format and from what angle?

The protracted regional conflicts in the post-Soviet space were discussed only inasmuch to affirm of the need that these be resolved. Though the support “of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova” was reaffirmed as was the need to resolve these on the basis of international law, NATO basically went through the motions regarding the post-Soviet space and included the aforementioned language in the Resolution in order to have something to say as per its principles and those of the UN Charter. Much depends on its evolving relations with Russia which the Summit did not necessarily deal with properly given Putin’s absence.

Anna Bartkulashvili, freelance reporter (Azerbaijan)

1. Before the beginning of the summit the American expert Alfred Ross forecasted that in Chicago America was going to ask for additional funding, soldiers and fighters from its NATO allies. What particular problems have conditioned such a prognosis and to what extent have they been solved at the summit?

None of these issues have been resolved as the Summit showed that the European Allies are either unwilling or unable to invest more in terms of defense. In fact, European defense spending has fallen by more than 24 billion USD in the last three years while the Libyan operation that Europe led could not have been completed successfully without US involvement including electronic jamming, air defense suppression, 80 percent of the fuel and most of the bombs uses in the operation. As the European allies reduce their defense capabilities and commitments and the gap with the US grows, so does the frustration and impatience in Washington. Similarly, the drawdown in Afghanistan is also troubling and is not properly planned.

2. What does NATO’s “smart defense” program consist in and what was the particular cause of adopting it?

“Smart Defense” is an attempt to optimize the diminishing commitment to the Alliance by its European allies and the need of the US to shift some of its resources to other threats such as the Pacific. In times of budgetary austerity, the focus is on specialization and cooperation or in other words, how to do more with less. Discussions between France and the United Kingdom about the prospect of sharing their aircraft carriers are indicative of the potential of “Smart Defense.” The objective is to ensure that NATO and its member states maintain the military capabilities to undertake the core tasks of the Alliance as these are put forward in the new Strategic Concept which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010.

3. Was it possible to efficiently react to all the problems NATO is currently facing and what priority directions for activity were selected at the Summit?

No. NATO is in trouble because both the political commitment of many of its European allies as well as their material commitments are lacking. NATO has evolved into a defense organization with global reach given the exigencies of today’s globalized world at a time of dwindling resources and a false sense of security in many European countries as well as the implications of future or lack thereof of the eurozone. As a result, the Chicago Summit raises awareness of the myriad of security challenges and proposes some initiatives but does not necessarily put forward a new strategic blueprint.

Tarana, www.contact.az (Azerbaijan)

What place did the issue of NATO’s future development occupy on the agenda of the Summit?

The issues of future capabilities and the need to implement Smart Defense as well as strengthened partnerships with countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, inter alia, were raised in the Summit and hold a prominent part of the Summit Declaration. Yet, these cannot be successfully implemented if the current European mindset with reduced defense spending and capabilities does not change.

Emil Babayan, www.news.am (Armenia)

What were the results achieved at the Chicago Summit after the discussion of the strategy in Afghanistan before and after 2014? Will the Afghan party be ready to assume complete responsibility for ensuring the security in the country at the time of the withdrawal of NATO troops, and will the civil war in Afghanistan have been suspended by that time? What achievements and failures in Afghanistan were highlighted in the Chicago Summit?

The drawdown in Afghanistan was a major part of the Chicago Summit. Decisions were taken regarding the reduction of the military presence of NATO troops, yet there seems to be a preoccupation with the fact that the withdrawal of troops is coming at a time that the Taliban are becoming more emboldened with attacks across the country. Also at play are the funds that the Afghan National Security Forces require to meet the challenges of transition and taking the lead. Out of the expected 4.1 billion USD needed by the Afghan security forces per year, 1.3 billion USD need to be provided by non-NATO members and partners. But there seems to be a shortfall.

Emma Bayramova, www.tribuna.ge (Georgia)

1. What’s new in comparison with previous decisions on Georgia in the documents of Chicago Summit?

The new developments regarding Georgia are the remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the need to deal with enlargement at the next summit and the participation of Georgia in the meeting between NATO and the aspirant countries. This does not mean that the Chicago Summit was very clear on the prospects of future enlargement for Georgia.

2. Does Georgia have progressive achievements on its way to the Alliance?

Though Georgia has met many of the criteria for membership, the fact that it has not yet started negotiations for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) is detrimental to its bid in contrast to the other aspirant countries from Southeastern Europe. The Georgian government deftly downplayed expectations before the Summit, yet it is not happy that the Chicago Summit Declaration only reaffirms the decision taken in Bucharest that Georgia will one day join the Alliance. Clearly much depends on the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia this year and its Presidential ones in October 2013.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Armenia Shuns NATO Summit Over ‘Pro-Azeri’ Declaration
  2. German Envoy Regrets Armenian Boycott Of NATO Summit
  3. Chicago Declaration addresses Karabakh conflict
  4. Armenian Opposition Bloc Condemns President Sarkisian For NATO Summit Boycott
  5. Armenian Foreign Minister Delivers a Speech at The NATO Summit In Lisbon

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12:16, July 12, 2012

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (Turkey), director of the Center for International and European Studies of Kadir Has University (Istanbul).

Sona Kyurkchyan, www.hetq.am (Armenia)

1. What makes the Chicago Summit different from the previously held NATO summits, what was its final outcome?

Nothing really other than the fact that it was held in President Obama’s hometown during an election year. It also came at the heels of the more groundbreaking Lisbon Summit of 2010 which launched a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. It seems that although it was the first post-Arab Spring Summit and post Libya operation Summit, this wasn’t enough to produce major news except maybe to reaffirm that NATO is adrift with the European allies unable or unwilling to contribute more in terms of resources to the Alliance. The European allies can deploy only about 5 percent of their troops for NATO operations.

2. How does NATO intend to act in the future if not all Alliance members agree to conducting operations in this or that region? Has the Chicago Summit considered the precedence of some members’ refusal to participate in the operations against Libya?

I would tend to agree with the assessment of Thomas Ries who in a recent article suggested that the result of the inability of the European allies to contribute in a coherent manner to the evolving global security environment is “a lost alliance: unable to orient itself, unable to look forward, unable to specify vital strategic interests beyond basic platitudes, unable to agree which future threats to focus on, and unable to generate military forces capable of addressing them.” This growing deficit within NATO is compounded by the shortcomings of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in which many of NATO’s European allies take part.

3. Why after the NATO Summit in Lisbon which was not attended by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan because of the language of adopted resolutions, a document with the same language on the conflicts in the territories of CIS countries was adopted at the Chicago Summit?

NATO is keeping closely to its principles regarding the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all states involved in “protracted” conflicts – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. Armenia could not expect different language in the Chicago Summit Declaration given the makeup of the Alliance’s members and the concerns that many raise regarding the principle of territorial integrity of states. This is also somewhat linked to the development of relations between Russia and NATO and Russia’s uneasiness regarding relations between Armenia and NATO.

Angela Khachatryan, www.1in.am (Armenia)

Have Georgia’s expectations from the Chicago Summit come true and do the adopted documents mean that Georgia will become a country to be admitted into the Alliance in the course of the following stage of NATO enlargement? When do you think such an expansion may take place?

I am not sure that Georgia’s expectations were necessarily met by the Chicago Summit regarding its eventual accession to NATO albeit Secretary Clinton’s remarks that the next Summit would be an enlargement one. Much would depend on the priorities of the next US administration and its relationship with Russia on a variety of global challenges as well as the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Georgia.

Armen Minasyan, www.panorama.am (Armenia)

1. The official Ankara had made a statement against Israel’s participation in the Chicago Summit. Do you think such behavior is in line with NATO principles, if we are to take into consideration the fact that a dialogue at all levels is especially important for ensuring regional security?

Of course, Ankara’s position is not in line with NATO principles. Ankara, in fact, also tried to promote without success the membership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by attempting to change the decision by the Alliance (including Turkey) in the Bucharest Summit of 2008 to the detriment of Greek interests. Nevertheless, Turkey is an important regional security and economic actor and its growing importance needs to be taken into account. Ankara’s perceived isolation from the West on many fronts (ranging from the stalled EU accession process to its difficult neighborhood) suggests that a better understanding of Ankara’s positions need to be considered without implying that these have to be adopted wholesale by the Alliance.

2. What do you think the main outcome of the Chicago Summit was? What place did the issues of NATO enlargement through the admission of new members occupy among the adopted decisions?

The main outcome of the Chicago Summit was that the Alliance is in trouble as it failed to address seriously its strategic imperatives. There is a lack of strategic thinking by the European allies that seem to be more concerned with the threat of the financial/ sovereign debt crisis than their global responsibilities. The Libyan operation brought many of these shortcomings to the fore as the United States bore the bulk of the operation and its costs. The Chicago Summit spent time on other issues such as Afghanistan, future capabilities, and partnerships but none of these could be considered truly strategic. Similarly, the future enlargement of the Alliance was left to the future.

David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am(Armenia)

Were the unresolved conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in particular the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, discussed at the NATO Summit in Chicago? If yes, in what format and from what angle?

The protracted regional conflicts in the post-Soviet space were discussed only inasmuch to affirm of the need that these be resolved. Though the support “of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova” was reaffirmed as was the need to resolve these on the basis of international law, NATO basically went through the motions regarding the post-Soviet space and included the aforementioned language in the Resolution in order to have something to say as per its principles and those of the UN Charter. Much depends on its evolving relations with Russia which the Summit did not necessarily deal with properly given Putin’s absence.

Anna Bartkulashvili, freelance reporter (Azerbaijan)

1. Before the beginning of the summit the American expert Alfred Ross forecasted that in Chicago America was going to ask for additional funding, soldiers and fighters from its NATO allies. What particular problems have conditioned such a prognosis and to what extent have they been solved at the summit?

None of these issues have been resolved as the Summit showed that the European Allies are either unwilling or unable to invest more in terms of defense. In fact, European defense spending has fallen by more than 24 billion USD in the last three years while the Libyan operation that Europe led could not have been completed successfully without US involvement including electronic jamming, air defense suppression, 80 percent of the fuel and most of the bombs uses in the operation. As the European allies reduce their defense capabilities and commitments and the gap with the US grows, so does the frustration and impatience in Washington. Similarly, the drawdown in Afghanistan is also troubling and is not properly planned.

2. What does NATO’s “smart defense” program consist in and what was the particular cause of adopting it?

“Smart Defense” is an attempt to optimize the diminishing commitment to the Alliance by its European allies and the need of the US to shift some of its resources to other threats such as the Pacific. In times of budgetary austerity, the focus is on specialization and cooperation or in other words, how to do more with less. Discussions between France and the United Kingdom about the prospect of sharing their aircraft carriers are indicative of the potential of “Smart Defense.” The objective is to ensure that NATO and its member states maintain the military capabilities to undertake the core tasks of the Alliance as these are put forward in the new Strategic Concept which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010.

3. Was it possible to efficiently react to all the problems NATO is currently facing and what priority directions for activity were selected at the Summit?

No. NATO is in trouble because both the political commitment of many of its European allies as well as their material commitments are lacking. NATO has evolved into a defense organization with global reach given the exigencies of today’s globalized world at a time of dwindling resources and a false sense of security in many European countries as well as the implications of future or lack thereof of the eurozone. As a result, the Chicago Summit raises awareness of the myriad of security challenges and proposes some initiatives but does not necessarily put forward a new strategic blueprint.

Tarana, www.contact.az (Azerbaijan)

What place did the issue of NATO’s future development occupy on the agenda of the Summit?

The issues of future capabilities and the need to implement Smart Defense as well as strengthened partnerships with countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, inter alia, were raised in the Summit and hold a prominent part of the Summit Declaration. Yet, these cannot be successfully implemented if the current European mindset with reduced defense spending and capabilities does not change.

Emil Babayan, www.news.am (Armenia)

What were the results achieved at the Chicago Summit after the discussion of the strategy in Afghanistan before and after 2014? Will the Afghan party be ready to assume complete responsibility for ensuring the security in the country at the time of the withdrawal of NATO troops, and will the civil war in Afghanistan have been suspended by that time? What achievements and failures in Afghanistan were highlighted in the Chicago Summit?

The drawdown in Afghanistan was a major part of the Chicago Summit. Decisions were taken regarding the reduction of the military presence of NATO troops, yet there seems to be a preoccupation with the fact that the withdrawal of troops is coming at a time that the Taliban are becoming more emboldened with attacks across the country. Also at play are the funds that the Afghan National Security Forces require to meet the challenges of transition and taking the lead. Out of the expected 4.1 billion USD needed by the Afghan security forces per year, 1.3 billion USD need to be provided by non-NATO members and partners. But there seems to be a shortfall.

Emma Bayramova, www.tribuna.ge (Georgia)

1. What’s new in comparison with previous decisions on Georgia in the documents of Chicago Summit?

The new developments regarding Georgia are the remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the need to deal with enlargement at the next summit and the participation of Georgia in the meeting between NATO and the aspirant countries. This does not mean that the Chicago Summit was very clear on the prospects of future enlargement for Georgia.

2. Does Georgia have progressive achievements on its way to the Alliance?

Though Georgia has met many of the criteria for membership, the fact that it has not yet started negotiations for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) is detrimental to its bid in contrast to the other aspirant countries from Southeastern Europe. The Georgian government deftly downplayed expectations before the Summit, yet it is not happy that the Chicago Summit Declaration only reaffirms the decision taken in Bucharest that Georgia will one day join the Alliance. Clearly much depends on the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia this year and its Presidential ones in October 2013.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Armenia Shuns NATO Summit Over ‘Pro-Azeri’ Declaration
  2. German Envoy Regrets Armenian Boycott Of NATO Summit
  3. Chicago Declaration addresses Karabakh conflict
  4. Armenian Opposition Bloc Condemns President Sarkisian For NATO Summit Boycott
  5. Armenian Foreign Minister Delivers a Speech at The NATO Summit In Lisbon

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12:16, July 12, 2012

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (Turkey), director of the Center for International and European Studies of Kadir Has University (Istanbul).

Sona Kyurkchyan, www.hetq.am (Armenia)

1. What makes the Chicago Summit different from the previously held NATO summits, what was its final outcome?

Nothing really other than the fact that it was held in President Obama’s hometown during an election year. It also came at the heels of the more groundbreaking Lisbon Summit of 2010 which launched a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. It seems that although it was the first post-Arab Spring Summit and post Libya operation Summit, this wasn’t enough to produce major news except maybe to reaffirm that NATO is adrift with the European allies unable or unwilling to contribute more in terms of resources to the Alliance. The European allies can deploy only about 5 percent of their troops for NATO operations.

2. How does NATO intend to act in the future if not all Alliance members agree to conducting operations in this or that region? Has the Chicago Summit considered the precedence of some members’ refusal to participate in the operations against Libya?

I would tend to agree with the assessment of Thomas Ries who in a recent article suggested that the result of the inability of the European allies to contribute in a coherent manner to the evolving global security environment is “a lost alliance: unable to orient itself, unable to look forward, unable to specify vital strategic interests beyond basic platitudes, unable to agree which future threats to focus on, and unable to generate military forces capable of addressing them.” This growing deficit within NATO is compounded by the shortcomings of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in which many of NATO’s European allies take part.

3. Why after the NATO Summit in Lisbon which was not attended by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan because of the language of adopted resolutions, a document with the same language on the conflicts in the territories of CIS countries was adopted at the Chicago Summit?

NATO is keeping closely to its principles regarding the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all states involved in “protracted” conflicts – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. Armenia could not expect different language in the Chicago Summit Declaration given the makeup of the Alliance’s members and the concerns that many raise regarding the principle of territorial integrity of states. This is also somewhat linked to the development of relations between Russia and NATO and Russia’s uneasiness regarding relations between Armenia and NATO.

Angela Khachatryan, www.1in.am (Armenia)

Have Georgia’s expectations from the Chicago Summit come true and do the adopted documents mean that Georgia will become a country to be admitted into the Alliance in the course of the following stage of NATO enlargement? When do you think such an expansion may take place?

I am not sure that Georgia’s expectations were necessarily met by the Chicago Summit regarding its eventual accession to NATO albeit Secretary Clinton’s remarks that the next Summit would be an enlargement one. Much would depend on the priorities of the next US administration and its relationship with Russia on a variety of global challenges as well as the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Georgia.

Armen Minasyan, www.panorama.am (Armenia)

1. The official Ankara had made a statement against Israel’s participation in the Chicago Summit. Do you think such behavior is in line with NATO principles, if we are to take into consideration the fact that a dialogue at all levels is especially important for ensuring regional security?

Of course, Ankara’s position is not in line with NATO principles. Ankara, in fact, also tried to promote without success the membership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by attempting to change the decision by the Alliance (including Turkey) in the Bucharest Summit of 2008 to the detriment of Greek interests. Nevertheless, Turkey is an important regional security and economic actor and its growing importance needs to be taken into account. Ankara’s perceived isolation from the West on many fronts (ranging from the stalled EU accession process to its difficult neighborhood) suggests that a better understanding of Ankara’s positions need to be considered without implying that these have to be adopted wholesale by the Alliance.

2. What do you think the main outcome of the Chicago Summit was? What place did the issues of NATO enlargement through the admission of new members occupy among the adopted decisions?

The main outcome of the Chicago Summit was that the Alliance is in trouble as it failed to address seriously its strategic imperatives. There is a lack of strategic thinking by the European allies that seem to be more concerned with the threat of the financial/ sovereign debt crisis than their global responsibilities. The Libyan operation brought many of these shortcomings to the fore as the United States bore the bulk of the operation and its costs. The Chicago Summit spent time on other issues such as Afghanistan, future capabilities, and partnerships but none of these could be considered truly strategic. Similarly, the future enlargement of the Alliance was left to the future.

David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am(Armenia)

Were the unresolved conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in particular the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, discussed at the NATO Summit in Chicago? If yes, in what format and from what angle?

The protracted regional conflicts in the post-Soviet space were discussed only inasmuch to affirm of the need that these be resolved. Though the support “of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova” was reaffirmed as was the need to resolve these on the basis of international law, NATO basically went through the motions regarding the post-Soviet space and included the aforementioned language in the Resolution in order to have something to say as per its principles and those of the UN Charter. Much depends on its evolving relations with Russia which the Summit did not necessarily deal with properly given Putin’s absence.

Anna Bartkulashvili, freelance reporter (Azerbaijan)

1. Before the beginning of the summit the American expert Alfred Ross forecasted that in Chicago America was going to ask for additional funding, soldiers and fighters from its NATO allies. What particular problems have conditioned such a prognosis and to what extent have they been solved at the summit?

None of these issues have been resolved as the Summit showed that the European Allies are either unwilling or unable to invest more in terms of defense. In fact, European defense spending has fallen by more than 24 billion USD in the last three years while the Libyan operation that Europe led could not have been completed successfully without US involvement including electronic jamming, air defense suppression, 80 percent of the fuel and most of the bombs uses in the operation. As the European allies reduce their defense capabilities and commitments and the gap with the US grows, so does the frustration and impatience in Washington. Similarly, the drawdown in Afghanistan is also troubling and is not properly planned.

2. What does NATO’s “smart defense” program consist in and what was the particular cause of adopting it?

“Smart Defense” is an attempt to optimize the diminishing commitment to the Alliance by its European allies and the need of the US to shift some of its resources to other threats such as the Pacific. In times of budgetary austerity, the focus is on specialization and cooperation or in other words, how to do more with less. Discussions between France and the United Kingdom about the prospect of sharing their aircraft carriers are indicative of the potential of “Smart Defense.” The objective is to ensure that NATO and its member states maintain the military capabilities to undertake the core tasks of the Alliance as these are put forward in the new Strategic Concept which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010.

3. Was it possible to efficiently react to all the problems NATO is currently facing and what priority directions for activity were selected at the Summit?

No. NATO is in trouble because both the political commitment of many of its European allies as well as their material commitments are lacking. NATO has evolved into a defense organization with global reach given the exigencies of today’s globalized world at a time of dwindling resources and a false sense of security in many European countries as well as the implications of future or lack thereof of the eurozone. As a result, the Chicago Summit raises awareness of the myriad of security challenges and proposes some initiatives but does not necessarily put forward a new strategic blueprint.

Tarana, www.contact.az (Azerbaijan)

What place did the issue of NATO’s future development occupy on the agenda of the Summit?

The issues of future capabilities and the need to implement Smart Defense as well as strengthened partnerships with countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, inter alia, were raised in the Summit and hold a prominent part of the Summit Declaration. Yet, these cannot be successfully implemented if the current European mindset with reduced defense spending and capabilities does not change.

Emil Babayan, www.news.am (Armenia)

What were the results achieved at the Chicago Summit after the discussion of the strategy in Afghanistan before and after 2014? Will the Afghan party be ready to assume complete responsibility for ensuring the security in the country at the time of the withdrawal of NATO troops, and will the civil war in Afghanistan have been suspended by that time? What achievements and failures in Afghanistan were highlighted in the Chicago Summit?

The drawdown in Afghanistan was a major part of the Chicago Summit. Decisions were taken regarding the reduction of the military presence of NATO troops, yet there seems to be a preoccupation with the fact that the withdrawal of troops is coming at a time that the Taliban are becoming more emboldened with attacks across the country. Also at play are the funds that the Afghan National Security Forces require to meet the challenges of transition and taking the lead. Out of the expected 4.1 billion USD needed by the Afghan security forces per year, 1.3 billion USD need to be provided by non-NATO members and partners. But there seems to be a shortfall.

Emma Bayramova, www.tribuna.ge (Georgia)

1. What’s new in comparison with previous decisions on Georgia in the documents of Chicago Summit?

The new developments regarding Georgia are the remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the need to deal with enlargement at the next summit and the participation of Georgia in the meeting between NATO and the aspirant countries. This does not mean that the Chicago Summit was very clear on the prospects of future enlargement for Georgia.

2. Does Georgia have progressive achievements on its way to the Alliance?

Though Georgia has met many of the criteria for membership, the fact that it has not yet started negotiations for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) is detrimental to its bid in contrast to the other aspirant countries from Southeastern Europe. The Georgian government deftly downplayed expectations before the Summit, yet it is not happy that the Chicago Summit Declaration only reaffirms the decision taken in Bucharest that Georgia will one day join the Alliance. Clearly much depends on the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia this year and its Presidential ones in October 2013.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Armenia Shuns NATO Summit Over ‘Pro-Azeri’ Declaration
  2. German Envoy Regrets Armenian Boycott Of NATO Summit
  3. Chicago Declaration addresses Karabakh conflict
  4. Armenian Opposition Bloc Condemns President Sarkisian For NATO Summit Boycott
  5. Armenian Foreign Minister Delivers a Speech at The NATO Summit In Lisbon

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

12:16, July 12, 2012

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (Turkey), director of the Center for International and European Studies of Kadir Has University (Istanbul).

Sona Kyurkchyan, www.hetq.am (Armenia)

1. What makes the Chicago Summit different from the previously held NATO summits, what was its final outcome?

Nothing really other than the fact that it was held in President Obama’s hometown during an election year. It also came at the heels of the more groundbreaking Lisbon Summit of 2010 which launched a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. It seems that although it was the first post-Arab Spring Summit and post Libya operation Summit, this wasn’t enough to produce major news except maybe to reaffirm that NATO is adrift with the European allies unable or unwilling to contribute more in terms of resources to the Alliance. The European allies can deploy only about 5 percent of their troops for NATO operations.

2. How does NATO intend to act in the future if not all Alliance members agree to conducting operations in this or that region? Has the Chicago Summit considered the precedence of some members’ refusal to participate in the operations against Libya?

I would tend to agree with the assessment of Thomas Ries who in a recent article suggested that the result of the inability of the European allies to contribute in a coherent manner to the evolving global security environment is “a lost alliance: unable to orient itself, unable to look forward, unable to specify vital strategic interests beyond basic platitudes, unable to agree which future threats to focus on, and unable to generate military forces capable of addressing them.” This growing deficit within NATO is compounded by the shortcomings of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in which many of NATO’s European allies take part.

3. Why after the NATO Summit in Lisbon which was not attended by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan because of the language of adopted resolutions, a document with the same language on the conflicts in the territories of CIS countries was adopted at the Chicago Summit?

NATO is keeping closely to its principles regarding the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all states involved in “protracted” conflicts – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. Armenia could not expect different language in the Chicago Summit Declaration given the makeup of the Alliance’s members and the concerns that many raise regarding the principle of territorial integrity of states. This is also somewhat linked to the development of relations between Russia and NATO and Russia’s uneasiness regarding relations between Armenia and NATO.

Angela Khachatryan, www.1in.am (Armenia)

Have Georgia’s expectations from the Chicago Summit come true and do the adopted documents mean that Georgia will become a country to be admitted into the Alliance in the course of the following stage of NATO enlargement? When do you think such an expansion may take place?

I am not sure that Georgia’s expectations were necessarily met by the Chicago Summit regarding its eventual accession to NATO albeit Secretary Clinton’s remarks that the next Summit would be an enlargement one. Much would depend on the priorities of the next US administration and its relationship with Russia on a variety of global challenges as well as the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Georgia.

Armen Minasyan, www.panorama.am (Armenia)

1. The official Ankara had made a statement against Israel’s participation in the Chicago Summit. Do you think such behavior is in line with NATO principles, if we are to take into consideration the fact that a dialogue at all levels is especially important for ensuring regional security?

Of course, Ankara’s position is not in line with NATO principles. Ankara, in fact, also tried to promote without success the membership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by attempting to change the decision by the Alliance (including Turkey) in the Bucharest Summit of 2008 to the detriment of Greek interests. Nevertheless, Turkey is an important regional security and economic actor and its growing importance needs to be taken into account. Ankara’s perceived isolation from the West on many fronts (ranging from the stalled EU accession process to its difficult neighborhood) suggests that a better understanding of Ankara’s positions need to be considered without implying that these have to be adopted wholesale by the Alliance.

2. What do you think the main outcome of the Chicago Summit was? What place did the issues of NATO enlargement through the admission of new members occupy among the adopted decisions?

The main outcome of the Chicago Summit was that the Alliance is in trouble as it failed to address seriously its strategic imperatives. There is a lack of strategic thinking by the European allies that seem to be more concerned with the threat of the financial/ sovereign debt crisis than their global responsibilities. The Libyan operation brought many of these shortcomings to the fore as the United States bore the bulk of the operation and its costs. The Chicago Summit spent time on other issues such as Afghanistan, future capabilities, and partnerships but none of these could be considered truly strategic. Similarly, the future enlargement of the Alliance was left to the future.

David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am(Armenia)

Were the unresolved conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in particular the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, discussed at the NATO Summit in Chicago? If yes, in what format and from what angle?

The protracted regional conflicts in the post-Soviet space were discussed only inasmuch to affirm of the need that these be resolved. Though the support “of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova” was reaffirmed as was the need to resolve these on the basis of international law, NATO basically went through the motions regarding the post-Soviet space and included the aforementioned language in the Resolution in order to have something to say as per its principles and those of the UN Charter. Much depends on its evolving relations with Russia which the Summit did not necessarily deal with properly given Putin’s absence.

Anna Bartkulashvili, freelance reporter (Azerbaijan)

1. Before the beginning of the summit the American expert Alfred Ross forecasted that in Chicago America was going to ask for additional funding, soldiers and fighters from its NATO allies. What particular problems have conditioned such a prognosis and to what extent have they been solved at the summit?

None of these issues have been resolved as the Summit showed that the European Allies are either unwilling or unable to invest more in terms of defense. In fact, European defense spending has fallen by more than 24 billion USD in the last three years while the Libyan operation that Europe led could not have been completed successfully without US involvement including electronic jamming, air defense suppression, 80 percent of the fuel and most of the bombs uses in the operation. As the European allies reduce their defense capabilities and commitments and the gap with the US grows, so does the frustration and impatience in Washington. Similarly, the drawdown in Afghanistan is also troubling and is not properly planned.

2. What does NATO’s “smart defense” program consist in and what was the particular cause of adopting it?

“Smart Defense” is an attempt to optimize the diminishing commitment to the Alliance by its European allies and the need of the US to shift some of its resources to other threats such as the Pacific. In times of budgetary austerity, the focus is on specialization and cooperation or in other words, how to do more with less. Discussions between France and the United Kingdom about the prospect of sharing their aircraft carriers are indicative of the potential of “Smart Defense.” The objective is to ensure that NATO and its member states maintain the military capabilities to undertake the core tasks of the Alliance as these are put forward in the new Strategic Concept which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010.

3. Was it possible to efficiently react to all the problems NATO is currently facing and what priority directions for activity were selected at the Summit?

No. NATO is in trouble because both the political commitment of many of its European allies as well as their material commitments are lacking. NATO has evolved into a defense organization with global reach given the exigencies of today’s globalized world at a time of dwindling resources and a false sense of security in many European countries as well as the implications of future or lack thereof of the eurozone. As a result, the Chicago Summit raises awareness of the myriad of security challenges and proposes some initiatives but does not necessarily put forward a new strategic blueprint.

Tarana, www.contact.az (Azerbaijan)

What place did the issue of NATO’s future development occupy on the agenda of the Summit?

The issues of future capabilities and the need to implement Smart Defense as well as strengthened partnerships with countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, inter alia, were raised in the Summit and hold a prominent part of the Summit Declaration. Yet, these cannot be successfully implemented if the current European mindset with reduced defense spending and capabilities does not change.

Emil Babayan, www.news.am (Armenia)

What were the results achieved at the Chicago Summit after the discussion of the strategy in Afghanistan before and after 2014? Will the Afghan party be ready to assume complete responsibility for ensuring the security in the country at the time of the withdrawal of NATO troops, and will the civil war in Afghanistan have been suspended by that time? What achievements and failures in Afghanistan were highlighted in the Chicago Summit?

The drawdown in Afghanistan was a major part of the Chicago Summit. Decisions were taken regarding the reduction of the military presence of NATO troops, yet there seems to be a preoccupation with the fact that the withdrawal of troops is coming at a time that the Taliban are becoming more emboldened with attacks across the country. Also at play are the funds that the Afghan National Security Forces require to meet the challenges of transition and taking the lead. Out of the expected 4.1 billion USD needed by the Afghan security forces per year, 1.3 billion USD need to be provided by non-NATO members and partners. But there seems to be a shortfall.

Emma Bayramova, www.tribuna.ge (Georgia)

1. What’s new in comparison with previous decisions on Georgia in the documents of Chicago Summit?

The new developments regarding Georgia are the remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the need to deal with enlargement at the next summit and the participation of Georgia in the meeting between NATO and the aspirant countries. This does not mean that the Chicago Summit was very clear on the prospects of future enlargement for Georgia.

2. Does Georgia have progressive achievements on its way to the Alliance?

Though Georgia has met many of the criteria for membership, the fact that it has not yet started negotiations for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) is detrimental to its bid in contrast to the other aspirant countries from Southeastern Europe. The Georgian government deftly downplayed expectations before the Summit, yet it is not happy that the Chicago Summit Declaration only reaffirms the decision taken in Bucharest that Georgia will one day join the Alliance. Clearly much depends on the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia this year and its Presidential ones in October 2013.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Armenia Shuns NATO Summit Over ‘Pro-Azeri’ Declaration
  2. German Envoy Regrets Armenian Boycott Of NATO Summit
  3. Chicago Declaration addresses Karabakh conflict
  4. Armenian Opposition Bloc Condemns President Sarkisian For NATO Summit Boycott
  5. Armenian Foreign Minister Delivers a Speech at The NATO Summit In Lisbon

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

12:16, July 12, 2012

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (Turkey), director of the Center for International and European Studies of Kadir Has University (Istanbul).

Sona Kyurkchyan, www.hetq.am (Armenia)

1. What makes the Chicago Summit different from the previously held NATO summits, what was its final outcome?

Nothing really other than the fact that it was held in President Obama’s hometown during an election year. It also came at the heels of the more groundbreaking Lisbon Summit of 2010 which launched a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. It seems that although it was the first post-Arab Spring Summit and post Libya operation Summit, this wasn’t enough to produce major news except maybe to reaffirm that NATO is adrift with the European allies unable or unwilling to contribute more in terms of resources to the Alliance. The European allies can deploy only about 5 percent of their troops for NATO operations.

2. How does NATO intend to act in the future if not all Alliance members agree to conducting operations in this or that region? Has the Chicago Summit considered the precedence of some members’ refusal to participate in the operations against Libya?

I would tend to agree with the assessment of Thomas Ries who in a recent article suggested that the result of the inability of the European allies to contribute in a coherent manner to the evolving global security environment is “a lost alliance: unable to orient itself, unable to look forward, unable to specify vital strategic interests beyond basic platitudes, unable to agree which future threats to focus on, and unable to generate military forces capable of addressing them.” This growing deficit within NATO is compounded by the shortcomings of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in which many of NATO’s European allies take part.

3. Why after the NATO Summit in Lisbon which was not attended by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan because of the language of adopted resolutions, a document with the same language on the conflicts in the territories of CIS countries was adopted at the Chicago Summit?

NATO is keeping closely to its principles regarding the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all states involved in “protracted” conflicts – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. Armenia could not expect different language in the Chicago Summit Declaration given the makeup of the Alliance’s members and the concerns that many raise regarding the principle of territorial integrity of states. This is also somewhat linked to the development of relations between Russia and NATO and Russia’s uneasiness regarding relations between Armenia and NATO.

Angela Khachatryan, www.1in.am (Armenia)

Have Georgia’s expectations from the Chicago Summit come true and do the adopted documents mean that Georgia will become a country to be admitted into the Alliance in the course of the following stage of NATO enlargement? When do you think such an expansion may take place?

I am not sure that Georgia’s expectations were necessarily met by the Chicago Summit regarding its eventual accession to NATO albeit Secretary Clinton’s remarks that the next Summit would be an enlargement one. Much would depend on the priorities of the next US administration and its relationship with Russia on a variety of global challenges as well as the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Georgia.

Armen Minasyan, www.panorama.am (Armenia)

1. The official Ankara had made a statement against Israel’s participation in the Chicago Summit. Do you think such behavior is in line with NATO principles, if we are to take into consideration the fact that a dialogue at all levels is especially important for ensuring regional security?

Of course, Ankara’s position is not in line with NATO principles. Ankara, in fact, also tried to promote without success the membership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by attempting to change the decision by the Alliance (including Turkey) in the Bucharest Summit of 2008 to the detriment of Greek interests. Nevertheless, Turkey is an important regional security and economic actor and its growing importance needs to be taken into account. Ankara’s perceived isolation from the West on many fronts (ranging from the stalled EU accession process to its difficult neighborhood) suggests that a better understanding of Ankara’s positions need to be considered without implying that these have to be adopted wholesale by the Alliance.

2. What do you think the main outcome of the Chicago Summit was? What place did the issues of NATO enlargement through the admission of new members occupy among the adopted decisions?

The main outcome of the Chicago Summit was that the Alliance is in trouble as it failed to address seriously its strategic imperatives. There is a lack of strategic thinking by the European allies that seem to be more concerned with the threat of the financial/ sovereign debt crisis than their global responsibilities. The Libyan operation brought many of these shortcomings to the fore as the United States bore the bulk of the operation and its costs. The Chicago Summit spent time on other issues such as Afghanistan, future capabilities, and partnerships but none of these could be considered truly strategic. Similarly, the future enlargement of the Alliance was left to the future.

David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am(Armenia)

Were the unresolved conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in particular the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, discussed at the NATO Summit in Chicago? If yes, in what format and from what angle?

The protracted regional conflicts in the post-Soviet space were discussed only inasmuch to affirm of the need that these be resolved. Though the support “of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova” was reaffirmed as was the need to resolve these on the basis of international law, NATO basically went through the motions regarding the post-Soviet space and included the aforementioned language in the Resolution in order to have something to say as per its principles and those of the UN Charter. Much depends on its evolving relations with Russia which the Summit did not necessarily deal with properly given Putin’s absence.

Anna Bartkulashvili, freelance reporter (Azerbaijan)

1. Before the beginning of the summit the American expert Alfred Ross forecasted that in Chicago America was going to ask for additional funding, soldiers and fighters from its NATO allies. What particular problems have conditioned such a prognosis and to what extent have they been solved at the summit?

None of these issues have been resolved as the Summit showed that the European Allies are either unwilling or unable to invest more in terms of defense. In fact, European defense spending has fallen by more than 24 billion USD in the last three years while the Libyan operation that Europe led could not have been completed successfully without US involvement including electronic jamming, air defense suppression, 80 percent of the fuel and most of the bombs uses in the operation. As the European allies reduce their defense capabilities and commitments and the gap with the US grows, so does the frustration and impatience in Washington. Similarly, the drawdown in Afghanistan is also troubling and is not properly planned.

2. What does NATO’s “smart defense” program consist in and what was the particular cause of adopting it?

“Smart Defense” is an attempt to optimize the diminishing commitment to the Alliance by its European allies and the need of the US to shift some of its resources to other threats such as the Pacific. In times of budgetary austerity, the focus is on specialization and cooperation or in other words, how to do more with less. Discussions between France and the United Kingdom about the prospect of sharing their aircraft carriers are indicative of the potential of “Smart Defense.” The objective is to ensure that NATO and its member states maintain the military capabilities to undertake the core tasks of the Alliance as these are put forward in the new Strategic Concept which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010.

3. Was it possible to efficiently react to all the problems NATO is currently facing and what priority directions for activity were selected at the Summit?

No. NATO is in trouble because both the political commitment of many of its European allies as well as their material commitments are lacking. NATO has evolved into a defense organization with global reach given the exigencies of today’s globalized world at a time of dwindling resources and a false sense of security in many European countries as well as the implications of future or lack thereof of the eurozone. As a result, the Chicago Summit raises awareness of the myriad of security challenges and proposes some initiatives but does not necessarily put forward a new strategic blueprint.

Tarana, www.contact.az (Azerbaijan)

What place did the issue of NATO’s future development occupy on the agenda of the Summit?

The issues of future capabilities and the need to implement Smart Defense as well as strengthened partnerships with countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, inter alia, were raised in the Summit and hold a prominent part of the Summit Declaration. Yet, these cannot be successfully implemented if the current European mindset with reduced defense spending and capabilities does not change.

Emil Babayan, www.news.am (Armenia)

What were the results achieved at the Chicago Summit after the discussion of the strategy in Afghanistan before and after 2014? Will the Afghan party be ready to assume complete responsibility for ensuring the security in the country at the time of the withdrawal of NATO troops, and will the civil war in Afghanistan have been suspended by that time? What achievements and failures in Afghanistan were highlighted in the Chicago Summit?

The drawdown in Afghanistan was a major part of the Chicago Summit. Decisions were taken regarding the reduction of the military presence of NATO troops, yet there seems to be a preoccupation with the fact that the withdrawal of troops is coming at a time that the Taliban are becoming more emboldened with attacks across the country. Also at play are the funds that the Afghan National Security Forces require to meet the challenges of transition and taking the lead. Out of the expected 4.1 billion USD needed by the Afghan security forces per year, 1.3 billion USD need to be provided by non-NATO members and partners. But there seems to be a shortfall.

Emma Bayramova, www.tribuna.ge (Georgia)

1. What’s new in comparison with previous decisions on Georgia in the documents of Chicago Summit?

The new developments regarding Georgia are the remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the need to deal with enlargement at the next summit and the participation of Georgia in the meeting between NATO and the aspirant countries. This does not mean that the Chicago Summit was very clear on the prospects of future enlargement for Georgia.

2. Does Georgia have progressive achievements on its way to the Alliance?

Though Georgia has met many of the criteria for membership, the fact that it has not yet started negotiations for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) is detrimental to its bid in contrast to the other aspirant countries from Southeastern Europe. The Georgian government deftly downplayed expectations before the Summit, yet it is not happy that the Chicago Summit Declaration only reaffirms the decision taken in Bucharest that Georgia will one day join the Alliance. Clearly much depends on the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia this year and its Presidential ones in October 2013.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Armenia Shuns NATO Summit Over ‘Pro-Azeri’ Declaration
  2. German Envoy Regrets Armenian Boycott Of NATO Summit
  3. Chicago Declaration addresses Karabakh conflict
  4. Armenian Opposition Bloc Condemns President Sarkisian For NATO Summit Boycott
  5. Armenian Foreign Minister Delivers a Speech at The NATO Summit In Lisbon

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Want to Write for Hetq?

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10:24, March 14, 2014

I’m looking for freelancers who can broaden the scope of Hetq’s English edition

Arts & Culture, Commentary, Politics, Civil Society, Interviews…

Anything interesting happening in your local community you’d like to share?

Write to me with your ideas and story suggestions.

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Source: HetqOriginial Article

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For Better or For Worse: Nature Protection Ministry Proposes Amendments to Water Use Laws

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16:44, February 14, 2014

With the goal of providing a systematic solution to issues of effective use of water resources in Ararat valley, the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia (RA) is proposing amendments and additions to the RA Water Code, and the RA laws on the Republic of Armenia’s National Water Program, on Licensing, and on State Tax.

The proposed legislative package has been sent to the relevant state agencies for their input.

Head of the Ministry of Nature Protection’s Water Resources Management Agency Volodya Narimanyan told Hetq, said that with this amendment package his ministry is attempting to clarify the ideas and the ambiguous commentary, as well as introduce new requirements. For example, one of the main points of the proposed amendments is if water use permit conditions are not met, the water use permit might be annulled.

“In the past, if water use conditions weren’t met, we couldn’t void the permit, but now we’re making that clear. If the state gives you a water use permit with this condition, be kind and meet this condition; otherwise, we will make the permit null and void,” he explained.

A new requirement in the proposed package concerning the execution of drilling operations stipulates that a drilling company or individual must obtain a license so that the state can supervise its activities. “Those companies that execute drilling must have a license for drilling. That is, we are proposing to license activities,” he added.

After the relevant state bodies discuss and submit their opinions regarding the amendments, Narimanyan says, the package will be sent to the RA Ministry of Justice, the government, then finally to parliament.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests

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The struggle of civil movements this year has been comprehensive and diverse with limited success in certain fields due to unified efforts and active involvement of the civil society.

Despite the rather passive start of the year in terms of civil movements, the second half of 2013 turned out to be tense with active developments.

Some analysts believe that especially after the February 18 presidential ballot, when current president Serzh Sargsyan won a decisive victory over his opponents and was re-elected for a second term, despite the widespread poverty and atmosphere of injustice in the country, people became even more aware of the fact that is it impossible to achieve changes via elections and started practicing their constitutional rights to civil protest and disobedience more frequently.

Karabakh war veterans’ civil standoff has been unprecedented. Although, every now and then on different occasions they had complained of their social conditions and of being neglected by the state , however never before had they come out to hold systematic rallies and sitting strikes. Retired army colonel Volodya Avetisyan initiated the civil standoff in May and in October found himself behind the bars, with charges of “swindling …in large amounts”. Avetisyan’s and his comrades-in-arms claim that by bringing charges the authorities are trying to silence him. The war vets demanding increase of their pensions and various privileges have now focused their struggle on various acts of protest in Avetisyan’s support. There is another group of Karabakh war veterans presenting political demands to the government. Every Thursday they hold small rallies in Liberty Square and demand that the government resign.

Yerevan mayor Taron Margaryan’s decision to raise public bus fare by 50 percent made the hot Yerevan summer even hotter.

The decision was immediately followed by a civil movement when numerous young activists held a variety of acts of protest during five consecutive days relentlessly struggling, rebelling against the bus fare increase and made the municipal government in the Armenian capital heed the people’s voice, forcing them to understand they would not pay more for using the overloaded, worn-out and hardly functioning minibuses.

The unified effort yielded results and on July 26 the mayor suspended the application of his decision temporarily, meaning that the buses and minibuses continued operating for the same 100 dram fare (around 24 cents). The mayor, however, stated that if residents of Yerevan wanted to have decent public transport services, they have to be ready to pay more. Municipal officials and transport companies running the routes have repeatedly stated after the summer civil standoff that the rise of bus fare is unavoidable, grounding it by the fact that everything else has become more expensive except for public transport services, hence their expenses have grown and they are operating at a loss.

The departing year has turned out to be rather active also in terms of public protests against controversial construction projects. In August, residents of 10 and 12 Sayat-Nova Avenue and 5 Komitas streets, in Yerevan, rebelled against construction in their neighborhoods. These people claim that the construction licenses in densely populated zones of the city are illegal, violate the seismic resistance norms, and block their light. Despite the variety of measures the residents have resorted to, even lying down in front of construction machines to block their way, no tangible results have been achieved; their struggle is ongoing (h).

Despite a drawn-out battle to preserve unchanged Yerevan’s Pak Shuka (“Covered Market”), on the list of historical-cultural heritage and belonging to businessman MP Samvel Alexanyan, opened its doors after two years of repairs, but now as a fashionable supermarket, rather than the produce market it used to be. Although ruling Republican MP Alexanyan kept the fa

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  2. U.S., French mediators meet civil society in Karabakh, advocate people-to-people contacts
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  4. New funding to support economic development, civil society and institution building in Armenia
  5. Citizen’s central role in civil campaign makes struggle stronger – Armenian oppositionist

Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments

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2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.

During the year there has been an ongoing debate in Armenia and other post-Soviet countries about whether it is expedient “to revive a new Soviet empire” under the name of a Eurasian Union. But at the end of the year plans to create such a union remain relevant – in May 2014 Armenia is going to be one of the six founders of the Eurasian Union (along with Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan).

Before September 3, Armenia was actively engaged with Europe, stating about shared values and ‘civilizational’ approaches. Armenia even dared reproach Russia for selling offensive weapons to Azerbaijan.

After September 3, however, Armenia suddenly remembered its centuries-old friendship with Russia as well as Russia’s ‘salutary’ role. Pro-Russian rhetoric increased and some even stated the readiness to return to the Russian Empire. In particular, publicist Zori Balayan wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, mentioning the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813, according to which, as a result of the Russian-Persian war, Persia renounced claims to Karabakh that went under Russia’s control.

The Russia-West struggle for post-Soviet countries, including for Armenia, in 2013 came out of its passive phase and acquired the character of an open confrontation. In the course of this battle all methods were employed – from economic blackmail to high-level visits. In particular, the visit by Putin to Armenia on December 2, as some analysts say, marked Armenia’s losing another portion of its sovereignty and security to Russia.

There have been some new developments in the Karabakh settlement process as well. In particular, on November 19, in Vienna, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, met for the first time in almost two years. During the meeting some new proposals were apparently discussed. The talks were confidential, but on the basis of available information experts assume that Russia and Turkey are promoting the project of opening the Turkish-Armenian border at the expense of Armenia’s concessions on two districts around Karabakh. The U.S. and Europe appear to insist on settlement and opening of communications while maintaining the current status quo in Karabakh.

Partially this version was confirmed on the eve of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s visit to Yerevan on December 12 (he was attending a regional organization’s forum in the Armenian capital). The Turkish press openly reported the offer from Turkey, but President Sargsyan did not receive Davutoglu, while Minister Edward Nalbandian stated that preconditions are unacceptable in Armenian-Turkish normalization.

The sudden change in the policy of Armenia, according to analysts, could lead to some adjustments in the positions of Armenia on relations with Turkey. At the beginning of 2013 Yerevan set up a commission to study possible legal claims to Turkey. The body was headed by the then Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepyan. It was followed by assumptions that in 2015, when the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will be marked, Armenia, with the support of the West, intends to advance serious claims to Turkey. However, the commission has not yet taken any public steps, and after September 3 decisions on claims to Turkey may already be made through Moscow.

Turkey has made no secret of its concern, especially in connection with the probability of combined Kurdish and Armenian claims. In this regard, Turkey has launched a wide-ranging process of reconciliation with the Kurds. 2013 became auspicious also for the Kurdish movement as the prospect of establishing Kurdistan became even closer.

The agreement on the conflict in Syria became an important event of the year also for Armenia in view of the sizable ethnic Armenian community in this Middle Eastern country. In accordance with this agreement, the world power centers decided not to support any side in the Syrian conflict, to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and lead the country to democratic elections in 2014.

An even more significant agreement was reached by the end of the year on Iran’s nuclear program, which immediately led to the lifting of a number of sanctions that had been imposed on the Islamic Republic by the West and its activation in regional politics. In particular, Iran immediately tried to offer natural gas to Armenia that would apparently be less expensive than Russia’s. Projects in energy and communication sectors have also become more relevant in view of the recent developments and Armenia may play an important role in them.

Source: Armenia NowOriginial Article

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Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction

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Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.

Unlike a majority of Heritage members Hakobyan then was critical of Postanjyan’s behavior. Representatives of the ruling party in Armenia called her statement in Strasbourg slanderous and the parliament speaker threatened to expel her from the Armenian delegation to the PACE.

Postanjian, meanwhile, would not be drawn into speculation about the reasons for Hakobyan’s decision either.

Source: Armenia NowOriginial Article

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