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30 mars 2009 1 30 /03 /mars /2009 21:02

The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, think tank néerlandais, vient de publier un rapport intitulé "Finding a path away from NATO de-solidarisation" (www.natonewhorizons.org/NewHorizons-DigitalEdition.pdf) qu'analyse le magazine en ligne EUobserver.com dans un article en ligne intitulé "European NATO members at odds over strategic priorities" qui a été publié le 27 mars 2009.

Eu égard à la qualité de cette analyse dont je partage les grandes lignes, je propose au lecteur d'en prendre connaissance ci-après.

"NATO is increasingly lacking solidarity and unity of vision over future strategic options, such as its relation with Russia and enlargement, a study issued by the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, a Dutch think-tank, shows.

Issued just a week ahead of NATO's 60th anniversary summit, the study, Finding a path away from NATO de-solidarisation is aimed at feeding into the drafting of the alliance's new strategic concept, which dates back to 1999. The 26 NATO heads of state and government are set to start work on a new concept at the summit.

Challenged by new problems such as the economic crisis, the race for Arctic resources, and a resurgent Russia and China, NATO is facing the "strategic necessity" of reconciling its traditional role – providing for the security of its members – with that of coping with these new challenges, the report highlighted.

Carried out amongst 300 experts and students on transatlantic security, the study was launched on Thursday (27 March) at the Security and Defence Agenda, a Brussels-based think-tank that focuses on EU-NATO issues.

As is the case with the EU, NATO is found to be divided over relations with Russia because some members see the eastern neighbour as a security threat, especially after the gas crisis and the Georgian war, while others consider it a necessary partner, the study found.

Members are also at odds over the issue of NATO enlargement, which is seen as both inevitable but undesirable. The biggest thorn in NATO-Russian relations, enlargement to Georgia and Ukraine, has been put off for now, yet allies have committed to their membership at some point in the future.

Speaking at the event, Hungarian ambassador to NATO Zoltan Martinusz pleaded in favour of NATO's enlargement policy, which saw his country join after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

"NATO has a strong role in promoting transformation and change, and the political transformation of Eastern Europe was one of the historic successes of NATO, done a hundred percent by political, not military means," Mr Martinusz said.

The Hungarian diplomat dismissed the idea that eastern European members refused to transform their forces to be more expeditionary and deployable abroad, but preferred to keep more "static" troops which could defend them from a classical terrestrial invasion, alluding to the one Georgia faced last summer when after Tbilisi's attack on South Ossetia, the Russian army invaded its territory with tanks.

"We don't have static forces anymore. Hungary only borders allies, and from hundreds of tanks, we only have six now, for training purposes," he said.

German revolution

Meanwhile, on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a "revolutionary" transformation of NATO, ahead of the summit that she is to co-host with the French president in Strasbourg and Kehl.

Ms Merkel stressed that the military alliance needs to co-operate closely with civil organisations such as the European Union and the United Nations.

"I don't see a global NATO. The alliance is and remains focused on the collective security of north-Atlantic partners," she said.

Eurozone security risks

Meanwhile, the security aspects of the current economic crisis also featured at the event.

A potential break-up of the eurozone, a topic of speculation in financial circles, could have a significant impact on European security and defence, the head of the Dutch think-tank said at the event.

"We don't know yet what the outcome of the financial and economic crisis would be. If the eurozone breaks up - there is this possibility - then it will surely affect defence and security in Europe. But the crisis could also lead to more integration. It could go both ways," said Rob de Wijk, the director of the Hague Centre.

Mr de Wijk later told EUobserver that talk about a eurozone breakup was "no longer as taboo as [it was] two to three months ago" and is being debated in the financial world. Such fears mainly revolve around the troubles that Ireland and southern members of the single currency – Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece, have in selling bonds and stabilising their growing deficits.

The Dutch think-tank is closely following the security impact of the financial crisis, particularly in terms of a power shift from the West to the East, notably due to China's rising financial power, he explained
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