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NATO - The Chicago Summit and US Policy
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Last week, the US House of Representatives held a hearing on the upcoming NATO Chicago Summit.  It was convened by the Subcommittee on Europe and Asia, a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

First, let’s be clear about the facts of this summit.  This will be the first summit held in the United States in 13 years.  This will also be the first summit held outside of Washington, DC (in Chicago, because as I have written about in the past, Chicago is considered the hometown of President Obama and this year he is running again for president in the November election and this is a political move to put the summit in Chicago).  And this will be the first summit to not discuss enlargement.  According to the NATO website, “The summit will principally focus on three main themes: the Alliance’s commitment to Afghanistan through transition and beyond, ensuring the Alliance has the capabilities it needs to defend its population and territory and to deal with the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening NATO's network of partners across the globe.”

Enlargement is not on the agenda.  That was made abundantly clear in the hearing held last week by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tina Kaidanow (formerly US ambassador to Kosovo among other positions) who stated “Allies will not take decisions on further enlargement of NATO in Chicago, but they will nonetheless send a clear, positive message to aspirant countries in support of their membership goals.” With respect to Macedonia, Ms. Kaidanow stated “Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Georgia are all working closely with Allies to meet NATO criteria so they may enter the Alliance.” She then immediately mentions that Macedonia will receive a membership offer once the name issue is settled.

This is, once again, unfortunate.  She fails to mention that Allies agreed that Macedonia met all criteria for membership back in Bucharest in April of 2008 but that one NATO member placed one additional, unique and unprecedented requirement on Macedonia, another first in NATO’s history.  But to mention that would be embarrassing to the United States and to NATO so it goes unmentioned.

Compare her statements with those of Luke Coffey, Margaret Thatcher Fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC (the new Sally McNamara for those who follow the workings of the Heritage Foundation).  Mr. Coffey states, with respect to Macedonia, “Absent from the Summit will be enlargement, even though Macedonia is more than ready to formally join the Alliance.” He also criticizes President Obama stating he has done little to support the membership of qualified candidates.

Mr. Coffey then goes on to accurately describe the situation and is due our collective thanks for saying publicly what needs to be said by both elected, and importantly, unelected and unaccountable officials.  He states, “Upon completing its Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2008, Macedonia anticipated an invitation to join the alliance at the NATO summit in Bucharest.  Yet, despite fulfilling all necessary requirements for membership, Macedonia’s accession was unilaterally vetoed by Greece….The International Court of Justice found last December that Greece’s veto was in blatant violation of the 1995 United Nations-brokered Interim Accord, in which Athens agreed not to impair Macedonia’s integration into Europe.  Greece has jeopardized NATO’s open door policy and NATO members should pressure Greece to work with Macedonia to seek reconciliation.”

Likewise, Representative Jean Schmidt, a Republican of Ohio and member of the Subcommittee stated “It is not too late to correct the injustice of denying Macedonia membership, and hopefully NATO will address this at the upcoming Summit,” according to the United Macedonian Diaspora.

Then we arrive at the statement by Gregory Meeks, a member of the House of Representatives from New York, a member of the Democrat party and the ranking member (right below the chairman) on the Subcommittee.  Mr. Meeks finishes his statement with a concern and a call to action over the fact that some NATO members are using bilateral disputes for their advantage and how this ultimately hurts NATO.

Mr. Meeks states “My other concern relates to bilateral conflicts playing out within NATO.  Today we are seeing bilateral conflicts between alliance members, aspirant countries, and partners: notably Greece and Macedonia’s disagreement over the name issue that keeps Macedonia out of NATO….I am troubled that these unresolved issues undermine core NATO values and hamper alliance functions and capabilities.  I urge all parties, NATO members and non-NATO partners, to consider the broader ramifications of using NATO as a venue to gain leverage in bilateral disputes.  I call on my congressional colleagues and the Administration to convey this message to the relevant parties.”

Meeks is absolutely correct.  Does anyone in NATO or the governments that make up NATO member countries realize this, or, more importantly, care about this?  For some reason, I think not.  Pity.

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Jason Miko
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