NATO'S BRUSSELS MEETING: EUROPE'S RESPONSE TO RUSSIA?
"I have just finished attending a meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Foreign Ministers. That meeting has produced a declaration, which I am certain you now have copies of, which is a comprehensive response to the crisis in Georgia. This was an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council. And that, in itself, is a clear indication of NATO’s interest in this crisis and NATO’s concern that this crisis has a real impact on peace and stability in this region and therefore is crucial to the alliance.
There are several elements to the declaration. But perhaps most important, I think the declaration clearly shows that NATO intends to support the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Georgia, and to support its democratically elected government, its democracy, and to deny Russia the strategic objective of undermining that democracy, of making Georgia weaker or of threatening Georgia’s territorial integrity. In that regard, a number of steps will be taken to support Georgia, including the creation, as the Secretary General has just said, of a NATO-Georgia Commission to oversee cooperation with Georgia on a wide range of matters and to oversee the program to achieve the goals of Bucharest. The Council reaffirmed the Bucharest Declaration of our heads of state, as well as developing this program of specific steps that we will take".
American Secretary of State Rice, "Remarks After the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the Level of Foreign Ministers", in Brussels, 19 August 2008, in www.state.gov
"We have also agreed today to support Georgia, upon its request, in a number of areas. In addition, we have agreed to task the North Atlantic Council in Permanent Session to develop with Georgia rapidly the modalities for a NATO-Georgia Commission. This Commission will supervise the process set in hand at Bucharest, including the measures of support agreed at today’s meeting. These measures are intended to assist Georgia, a valued and long-standing Partner of NATO, to assess the damage caused by the military action and to help restore critical services necessary for normal public life and economic activity. Georgia's recovery, security and stability are important to the Alliance. NATO will continue to cooperate with Georgia in the framework of the Partnership for Peace and Georgia’s Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO, and will review any additional Georgian requests for assistance. We also welcomed the fact that a number of our governments have indicated that they will actively support measures to help the economic reconstruction of Georgia.
The conflict between Georgia and Russia has compromised regional stability and security. We deeply deplore the use of force in the conflict between Georgia and Russia. We reiterate that there is no military solution to the unresolved conflicts. We remind all parties that peaceful conflict resolution is a key principle of the Partnership for Peace Framework Document.
We remain concerned by Russia's actions during this crisis and remind Russia of its responsibility for maintaining security and order in the areas where it exercises control, especially in light of continuing reports of Russia’s deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure. Russian military action has been disproportionate and inconsistent with its peacekeeping role, as well as incompatible with the principles of peaceful conflict resolution set out in the Helsinki Final Act, the NATO-Russia Founding Act and the Rome Declaration. We call on Russia to take immediate action to withdraw its troops from the areas it is supposed to leave under the six-principle agreement signed by President Saakashvili and President Medvedev1. The Alliance is considering seriously the implications of Russia’s actions for the NATO-Russia relationship. In 2002, we established the NATO-Russia Council, a framework for discussions with Russia, including on issues that divide the Alliance and Russia. We have determined that we cannot continue with business as usual. We call on Moscow to demonstrate – both in word and deed – its continued commitment to the principles upon which we agreed to base our relationship".
"Meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Foreign Ministers held at NATO headquarters, Brussels, on 19th August 2008", in www.nato.int/docu
"The mountain has given birth to a mouse"
Dmitri Rogozin, Russian Ambassador to NATO, 19 August 2008, in www.nytimes.com.
If one is a reasonably intelligent human being, and, one has one wits about one, it is self-evident that Grazhdanin Rogozin, has for once had a much better relation to prosaic reality than the American Secretary of State. The fact of the matter is that regardless of the headlines in say the Financial Times ("NATO tells Russia: no new line in Europe", in www.ft.com), the foreign minister's meeting in Brussels produced nothing which either changes the new reality on the ground in the Kavkas, id est, Russian domination of the area, or materially punishes Russia for having created this new reality. The airy promises that Georgia can expect to be considered for membership in NATO, come December are just that: hot air and nothing else. As one, unnamed European diplomat told the New York Times today, the reality is that Georgian membership of NATO was "impossible". Since, no one in Europe wishes to become involved in Saakashvili's danger gambits and adventures. And, while the creation of a NATO council to solidify ties with Georgia might look good on paper, it is nothing more than a damp squib. If not in fact a mechanism to keep Tbilisi in check going forward.
The reality is that aside from some fire-breathing American neo-conservative ideologues, such as Robert Kagan, and, out of power Russophobes like Richard Holbrooke (admittedly one of the best minds on foreign policy this side of the Atlantic) & Strobe Talbott, no one has any serious notion of either 'isolating' or
'containing' Russia. As the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, admitted to the International Herald Tribune today:
"We must not threaten them [Russia] because it will not work. Because everyone knows we are not going to war....We are not back to a Cold War, and I don't want this language to come back....I don't want to consider the relationship with Russia like a confrontation, block against block.... in www.iht.com
And, even though Kouchner comes out of a NGO, and, human rights lobby background, his reading of Moskva is one of a pur et simple realpolitik, which Furst von Metternich could very well understand:
"I consider realistically that yes, they are tough....This is a great country coming back to the first rank in the concert of nations, and they want to play as they used to play, as a great country."
In short if Secretary Rice and her cohorts in official Washington think that they have European backing for confronting Moskva, then she has a seriously misunderstood the realities of what Europe can do, and, cannot do. And, today that means that no one will stand up to Matushka Roissya for the sake of Georgia, and, perhaps not even for Ukraine.