May 9, 2012 – Washington, D.C. – On Monday, May 7, 2012, the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. hosted a discussion with the U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder. Titled ‘Next Steps for NATO,’ the case of Macedonia in NATO became a key point of contention.
With PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler as moderator, Professor Michael Haltzel of Johns Hopkins University raised the question of Macedonia’s accession to NATO at the upcoming Chicago Summit, considering the favorable decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in December. Daalder first stated that “the issue is very simple” and that Macedonia would not be invited to NATO unless a “mutually satisfactory” resolution of the name dispute is found with Greece. He also stated: “Since Greece has insisted that it needs to resolve the name issue prior to being willing to say yes to an invitation … an invitation will not be forthcoming.” He added: “That is how this organization works. We are not going to have the ICJ or anybody else telling NATO when and how it should take in new members.”
United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) President Metodija A. Koloski responded today: “Considering the U.S. State Department’s respect of the ICJ’s jurisdiction over Serbia and Kosovo, the Ambassador’s disregard for the ICJ decision on Macedonia is deeply inconsistent with past U.S. policy, and it also misrepresents the current policy of other NATO allies. The UK, Germany, Turkey and other member-states have all called for the ICJ case to be taken into consideration, in agreement with international law. Even the U.S. State Department is on the record that its legal team is reviewing the ICJ case, and it does not have any policy on it at this time. Daalder’s statement ignores the fact that Greece has no legal right to ‘insist’ on blocking Macedonia’s entry due to the ‘name dispute,’ based on the UN Interim Accord they signed in 1995, an agreement which the United States brokered.”
UMD Chairman Stojan Nikolov added: “In the context of Macedonia’s generous contributions to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, Daalder’s statement puts the priority on petty Greek politics instead of international security, which is an irresponsible attitude for any U.S. Ambassador. Practically speaking, as long as Macedonia remains ‘forever a bridesmaid and never a bride,’ NATO’s reputation in the region will deteriorate over time. That means the status quo is unsustainable. We hope President Obama recognizes this, and seizes the opportunity in Chicago to show leadership, to respect international law, and to pressure Greece into honoring its international agreements.”
Ambassador Daalder’s comments were all the more puzzling considering the fact that he wrote the following text for the New York Times in 2008, just days after the Bucharest Summit:
“… Enlargement has been at the core of the NATO alliance for well over two decades. Its founding treaty … made clear that the door to membership was open to any European state that could further the principles of the alliance and contribute to collective defense… Unfortunately, last week’s actions at the NATO summit meeting undermined the seriousness and credibility of this process. Like Croatia and Albania, Macedonia also fulfilled its MAP. But Macedonia was not invited to join the Alliance because one NATO member – Greece – objects to the country’s name. It is absurd enough that Greece claims to be concerned that Macedonia has designs on the area in Greece that is also known as Macedonia. But to allow that to become part of the debate over whether Macedonia should be allowed to join the world’s most successful alliance makes a mockery of the process. In its final communiqué, NATO said that once Macedonia and Greece find a mutually acceptable compromise (something they have failed to do for more than 15 years), Macedonia will receive its invitation. But the damage to the integrity of the process has been done… By the beginning of this decade, a well-functioning process for further enlargement was in place. But by using other criteria to deny Macedonia an invitation, … NATO has made a mockery of the process itself.”
Transcript of CFR Event, May 7, 2012:
(Click here for video: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/305866-1)
Micheal Getler: Well, the Russians are not going to be in Chicago, and I want to ask you about other countries that are not going to be there – of the whole group of smaller European states that want in under the Open Door Policy. As far as I can tell, enlargement is not on the table, and I was wondering where the expansion possibilities stand for these countries, like Bosnia and Macedonia, Serbia, Georgia? You know, the whole list – Kosovo? Where does that stand?
Ivo Daalder: Of the list, there are at the moment four countries that have declared that they would like to become members of NATO – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Georgia. All four will be in Chicago, because all four are active troop contributors to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. We, from the United States perspective, and I think I can speak for the all other 27 Allies, remain committed to an open door. Under Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, we can have an invitation to European member states, European states whose membership in NATO can contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area and who meet NATO standards. These four countries have declared that they would like to be members of NATO. We are working actively with them – we as NATO, we as the United States – to foster the circumstances and ability for them to become members, sooner rather than later. The time is not yet, for various reasons, and each country is unique, and each country will have to be dealt with separately. The time will not be yet, in Chicago, for them to be invited, either because there remain differences with other member states, in the case of Macedonia, where we remain committed to inviting them, as soon as a mutual satisfactory issue of the name has been resolved with Greece. We are working hard with Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina to resolve issues both internally and related to the reform of their country. We work with Georgia on a day to day basis. Georgia will by October be the largest non-NATO contributor to ISAF, a remarkable deployment of over 1700 troops, not just in the north or in the west, but down south in Helmund Province. Georgia faces an important Parliamentary election later this year and a presidential election next year – we will work with them to ensure that those are democratic elections. That too will be another step on the road to membership, which won’t happen at Chicago, but we are committed to have happen as soon as possible.
Michael Haltzel: Ivo, good to see you again. I would like to get back to NATO enlargement, both in the north, as well as the south. First of all, in the north, both Finland and Sweden have not asked to join, but have become almost allies, in any sense of the word. Swedes took part in the combat missions in Libya and they are doing Baltic Air Policing. Could you say a few words about that cooperation? Second, and perhaps the more important question has to do with Macedonia. You said that the US favors Macedonia’s accession to NATO when the name dispute is solved, but the International Court of Justice ruled about six months ago in what was almost a unanimous decision, that Greece had no right, on the basis of the 1995 interim agreement to block Macedonia’s membership in international organizations, while the negotiations are going on. It sounds like the United States, in a sense, has raised the bar, because if I understood the decision, it shouldn’t matter if the negotiations are going on, and in fact Macedonia, as you know was slated to get in 2008 at Bucharest with Croatia and Albania. So if you could please speak to those two issues.
Ivo Daalder: Thanks for both parts of the question, On Sweden and Finland, Sweden even more than Finland – they are extraordinary partners. They participate – Sweden participates in every single operation that we are conducting, including major cooperation in Operation Unify and Protect in Libya, a leading role in the north in Afghanistan until recently, although that has gone down, and has contributed significantly to Kosovo, as has Finland in many different ways. They could be allies tomorrow – by the way, I remind them of that too. Membership does have its privileges, for one you get to sit at the table and make decisions, but if you are not a member, you do get sit at the table, but you don’t get to make decisions. It is a national decision, Sweden will have to decide, and Finland will have to decide, like every country whether or not they want to become members of NATO. The good news is you do not have to be a member of NATO in order to be an extraordinary partner. On Baltic Air Policing, they have air covers in the Baltics, but they are not part of the NATO mission of Baltic Air Policing as of yet, which is why I was shaking my head. On Macedonia, the issue is very simple. In Bucharest, it was decided, by all 26 members of NATO, that Macedonia would be invited to join NATO as soon as the name issue was resolved to mutual satisfaction. This is a consensus based organization – that is the way it works, you need all members to agree. Since Greece has insisted that it needs to resolve the name issue prior to being willing to say yes to an invitation, the reality is until the name issue is resolved in a mutually satisfactory way, an invitation will not be forthcoming. That is how this organization works. We are not going to have the ICJ or anybody else telling NATO when and how it should take in new members. That is for NATO to decide among the 28 countries. That is the recognized way that every enlargement has happened from 1952, when Greece and Turkey were the first two countries to join NATO, until 2008, when the last two, Albania and Croatia became members, and we will continue to adhere to that fundamental decision which we made in Bucharest where an invitation will be extended when a mutually satisfactory resolution to the name issue has been reached.
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