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After the NATO Summit
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The NATO Summit in Chicago has ended and….there is no surprise.

We all knew that enlargement was not on the agenda and we all knew that Macedonia would not receive an invitation.  However, Macedonia made the best of it, launching a strategic and well-coordinated public relations offensive in the months and final weeks leading up to the summit.  Being an observer of all things NATO and Macedonia’s position, I can affirm that Macedonia did everything right.  More policy makers, decision makers and the media now know what Macedonia’s position is, know that the Greeks are foolish, childish and immature, and know that Macedonia has earned its right to be in NATO.  If that is all that was accomplished, it was worth the effort.

Leading up to the summit, there were numerous activities undertaken on behalf of Macedonia.  There was an opinion article written and published by President Ivanov in the Chicago Tribune, one of the most respected newspapers in the US.  Then there was another opinion article authored by Foreign Minister Poposki in The Hill, a prominent newspaper read by policy makers in Washington, DC.  There was the letter signed by 54 members of the US Congress sent to President Obama urging him to do more to get Macedonia into NATO.  The United Macedonian Diaspora was constantly engaged in gathering support for Macedonia and then there were numerous articles written by friends of Macedonia.  Finally there was an untold amount of work done by Ambassador Zoran Jolevski who worked, often behind the scenes, to gather support for Macedonia.

But in the final communique, the NATO leaders wrote the by now old, tired and familiar refrain: “We reiterate the agreement at our 2008 Bucharest Summit, as we did at subsequent Summits, to extend an invitation to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to join the Alliance as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached within the framework of the UN, and strongly urge intensified efforts towards that end.”  Etc.

At the North Atlantic Council meeting of NATO on Monday, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton affirmed the open-door policy of NATO stating “We’re meeting today to reaffirm our commitment to NATO’s open door policy…So the United States remains deeply committed to the open door policy, and it is in that spirit that we welcome our aspirant nations here today. We support their aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration, and we will keep working with each of them, both bilaterally and through NATO, to help them implement finally the reforms needed to meet the standards for membership. As I said yesterday, I believe this summit should be the last summit that is not an enlargement summit.”

Speaking specifically about Macedonia, Clinton stated “Macedonia has also made contributions to regional and global security, including significant and longstanding contributions to ISAF, and it has fulfilled the key criteria for NATO membership. We strongly support a resolution of the ongoing name dispute and urge the parties to reach an agreement so Macedonia can join the alliance as soon as possible.”

Two points: because the United States has done the right thing and recognized Macedonia by its constitutional name, Secretary Clinton is free to call Macedonia, well, Macedonia.  But she also said, about the aspirant countries, that they must demonstrate that they “share our values.”  Obviously, Macedonia shares NATO’s values, but NATO does not share the values that every other country shares – a right to an identity and name, chosen by the people of that country.

Analyst Josh Rogin, writing in Foreign Policy, called it the “NATO non-enlargement summit.” He went on to correctly point out that “This weekend's NATO summit in Chicago is the first in decades to make little to no progress on the enlargement of the organization, leaving several countries to wait another two years to move toward membership in the world’s premier military alliance.”

He went on to detail the work that was accomplished by the Macedonians in raising awareness of the issue pointing to a letter from President Obama’s own retired National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones who wrote in the influential Washington, DC paper, Roll Call, stating “This weekend, when NATO leaders convene in Chicago, enlargement may be swept under the rug in deference to other topics of concern. That would be a blow to stability in the Balkans and to the Republic of Macedonia in particular.”

Finally, former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, former US Secretaries of Defense William Cohen and Donald Rumsfeld sent a letter to President Obama urging him to do what is right by making sure that Macedonia can take its rightful seat at the NATO table.  They wrote,

“The Republic of Macedonia has met all qualifications for NATO membership and is one of the largest per capita contributors to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, but its invitation to the Alliance has been needlessly delayed….We ask that you make every effort, both publicly and privately, to affirm Macedonia’s place in the NATO family and to urge other Alliance members to support a continued open-door policy.”

What does all this mean and what is the lesson here?  Unfortunately, Macedonia must keep fighting and must, at the same time, stay the course.  But it also means that Macedonia has many friends, many policy makers out there at least know that Macedonia is right and has earned NATO membership and last, at the rate we are going, Greece may not be around much longer, at least as members of the Euro-Atlantic family.

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Jason Miko
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