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Adriatic Charter and the Balkans: Smaller Nations, Larger NATO

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Outgoing NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is to be succeeded by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who resigned his position as Danish prime minister to accept the post, on August 1st of this year.

During the past two and a half weeks Scheffer has been paying a series of farewell visits to newly acquired NATO territories like Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia and to former sovereign nations marked for closer integration and full absorption, Macedonia and Finland.

In the time-honored tradition of retiring Roman proconsuls and British viceroys, he has been making valedictory tours of inspection to admire his handiwork. During his tenure as chief of the world's only military bloc the Alliance added nine new members - Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia - three-quarters the amount of member states NATO had when it was formed sixty years ago.

All nine new acquisitions are in Eastern Europe, three border Russian territory and two-thirds of them were former republics of the three multi-ethnic (and in the first two cases multi-confessional) European nations torn apart between 1991-1993: The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.

Smaller morsels are easier to swallow.

On May 9 "De Hoop Scheffer expressed satisfaction with the fact that nine new members joined NATO on his watch as Secretary-General, hoping for Macedonia to become the 10th. [1]

It is assumed that the major factor in Scheffer being named NATO secretary general was his support of the invasion of Iraq when he was Dutch foreign minister and his role in deploying his nation's troops to that country.

His replacement, Rasmussen, played a comparable role as Danish prime minister minister in 2003 and afterward.

Of the nations Scheffer helped corral into what he is fond of referring to as global NATO, all nine have deployed troops to both Iraq and Afghanistan, in several cases before their accession to and as a precondition for membership in the Alliance.

It was also under his reign that NATO launched the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative to increase military cooperation and exercises with and deployments to the Mediterranean Dialogue partner states - Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia - and the Gulf Cooperation nations - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, thereby tightening the bloc's grip from the Atlantic coast of Africa to the Persian Gulf.

His swan song, or eagle's shriek, though is consolidating NATO's military integration of the region of Southeast Europe where its international expansion began: The Balkans.

Speaking on May 8 in the capital of Albania, Scheffer acknowledged that "In many respects, the origins of NATO’s transformation after the end of the Cold War lie here in Southeast Europe." [2] 

He was addressing a meeting of the Adriatic-5 Group in Tirana with the foreign ministers of Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

The Adriatic-5 Group is an expanded version of the Adriatic Charter established in May of 2003 by then US Secretary of State Colin Powell with Albania, Croatia and Macedonia, "an initiative in the spirit of the 1998 U.S.-Baltic Charter" [3], after discussions between George Bush and his Albanian, Croatian and Macedonian counterparts at the NATO summit in Prague in November of 2002.

All three nations were already and remain NATO Partnership for Peace adjuncts, but the Adriatic Charter was a specifically designed program to place the three states on the fast track to full integration.

As mentioned earlier, expectations for proving the three's NATO readiness included offering the United States and the Alliance troops for the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as sponsoring and participating in military exercises and hosting visits by US and allied warships, troops and air forces.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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