ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Preparing to announce the completion of the first important phase of its missile defense shield, the NATO remains undecided over the guest list to a key summit which is expected to be held in Chicago late this month
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. AFP photo
prepares to announce the completion of the first important phase of its missile defense shield system — a part of its new “Smart Defense Strategy” — at its May 20 and 21 Chicago summit, the guest list for the summit has not yet been finalized, due to a diplomatic quarrel.
The quarrel is over whether the European Union
should be invited to the NATO
Summit in its institutional capacity, according to diplomatic sources the Hürriyet Daily News
The proposal was made by the French
government following the meeting of NATO
defense and foreign ministers in Brussels April 18 and 19, on the basis that the EU has contributed a great deal to recent NATO
operations in areas beyond NATO’s defined operational geography, for example in Afghanistan and Libya.
But the proposal was not immediately welcomed by a number of NATO
countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Turkey, on the basis that the EU’s top officials have already been invited to the opening dinner of the Chicago summit, and most EU countries are also NATO
At the April meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
had vetoed a proposal from countries including France and the U.S. that Israel
should be invited to the NATO
summit as an observer, the reason for the veto being Turkey’s still-unmet demand that Israel
apologize for the killing of eight Turkish citizens who were part of a humanitarian aid flotilla trying to break the blockade on the Gaza strip in 2010.
If the EU is invited to the summit because of its contributions to NATO
missions, then other contributors should be invited as well, one Turkish source said in answer to a question from the Daily News. “We did not name any institutions such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) instead of the EU,” the source said. “This news does not reflect the truth. But it is true that the OIC contributed a great deal to NATO’s Afghanistan operation, and both the OIC and the Arab League have been helping NATO
in Libya, to no lesser extent than the EU. We believe NATO
should not waste time trying to invite more representatives from outside organizations, and should stick with our original ‘28+13’ plan for the list of participants. We await French
approval of that plan.”
The ‘28+13’ guest list is likely to be finalized next week, following the second and final round of the French
presidential elections on May 6th, in which the incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy will be challenged by his Socialist rival François Hollande. The ‘28+13’ list includes the 28 members of NATO
plus countries that contribute to NATO
operations, such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Sweden, and potential NATO
member countries in the Balkans. The 28 NATO
members will be represented at the summit at the presidential or prime ministerial level, and the observers at the level of foreign ministers.
In addition to the adaption of the Smart Defense Strategy, NATO’s Chicago summit is expected to see the announcement of “interim operational capability” for its ambitious missile shield system, in which Turkey has assumed a critical role by hosting its early warning radar. The partial withdrawal from Afghanistan, leaving core units to train an Afghan army and assist with the transfer of power is going to be another issue. Syria and Iran
(both neighbors of Turkey) are also likely to figure in the discussions.