Simmons, above, indicated NATO's plans for eliminating those barriers to complete integration.
Understanding the message that Simmons was delivering, the president of Abkhazia, Sergei Bagapsh, responded as reported in a dispatch worth quoting in length:
"'The replacement of Russian peacemakers will lead to a direct conflict. We will not let foreigners into Abkhazia and all of us will stand at the border.'
"Concerning the recent statements of NATO’s representative the in South Caucasus [Robert Simmons], who cast doubt on the role of Russian peacemakers in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone, Bagapsh said:
"'This right is the right of the strong. This is the same right as the one not to take into consideration of the decision of the Security Council on Yugoslavia.
"'Well, the Security Council hasn’t reached any decision, so let’s bomb Yugoslavia!'
"'And once the Council didn’t [resolve] the question, they themselves have settled the question regarding Kosovo.
"'This is, to our great regret, the right of the strong that now leads to the fact that such an important institute of the world community as the United Nations Organization loses its prestige and becomes pointless.'"
(Interfax, April 25, 2008)
The Russian forces didn't leave as Simmons demanded but war in South Ossetia ensued four months later anyway.
He revisited the issue after Georgia launched an invasion of South Ossetia on August 8 as will be seen further on.
In May of 2008, though, Simmons headed to Turkmenistan on the Caspian Sea.
With the sudden death of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, who had run an autarkic government since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the country was open to foreign penetration and NATO wasted no time in moving on it, both for military transit and trans-Eurasian energy projects; Simmons' demand for NATO naval presence in the Caspian Sea two months before was documented earlier.
Meeting with President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Simmons pledged that "NATO is going to continue building up its relations with Turkmenistan" and "the interlocutors discussed issues related to cooperation within the format of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, as well as pressing problems related to strengthening stability in the region."
(Turkmenistan.ru, May 14, 2008)
Turkmenistan is rich, it's not yet determined how rich, in natural gas, and lies off the southeast corner of the Caspian Sea with Iran to its south.
Securing NATO overflight, basing and surveillance rights in the nation - not to mention deployment of naval forces inside the Caspian - would be a direct threat to Iran and part of the general displacement of both Russia and China from the region and denial of its resources to both.
The succeeding month, June, Simmons returned to Azerbaijan on the eastern side of the Caspian directly across from Turkmenistan and Iran's neighbor to the northwest. There he officiated over annual NATO week events.
During the seven days Simmons oversaw a NATO/Partnership for Peace Trust Fund seminar, "organized for the first time in a partner country" that brought together "NATO member and partner countries, as well as about seventy representatives from the Mediterranean Dialogue [Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia] countries...."
(AzerTag, June 16, 2008)
Another illustration of NATO's integration of European, Caucasus, Central Asian, Middle Eastern and North African nations into a rapidly evolving global military nexus.
Later in the same month, and with the countdown to war in the South Caucasus nearing, Simmons joined the State Department's Matthew Bryza and Georgia's Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili in Warsaw, Poland for a meeting of the New Group of Friends of Georgia, which included the participation of "Top officials from the foreign ministries of Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Sweden, Latvia [and] Bulgaria."
(Civil Georgia, June 24, 2008)
That is, a month and a half before the Caucasus war commenced, top NATO and US officials orchestrated a meeting of Baltic, Black Sea and other nations to shore up support for the Saakashvili regime in its impending showdown with South Ossetia and Russia.
The very next day, June 25, Simmons was in the world's new nation, Montenegro, which of course is neither in the Caucasus or Central Asia but the Balkans, where he met with deputy ministers of the ministries of defense and foreign affairs and initiated "A first round of consultations at staff level [which] opened the Intensified Dialogue between NATO and Montenegro on 24 June 2008."
(NATO International, June 25, 2008)
Three months later Simmons would host Bosnia's Deputy Minister of Defence at NATO Headquarters in Brussels in the first staff level meeting to plan the nation's Intensified Dialogue with the Alliance. Bosnia and Montenegro have recently been pulled into the Adriatic Charter, a mechanism devised by the US State Department to initially transition Albania, Croatia and Macedonia into full NATO Membership.
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