EDITORIAL

Warsaw NATO Summit: One month ahead (I)

Warsaw NATO Summit in July 2016 is awaited with concern, but also with hope in the entire Europe and not only. This concern is expressed by those being worried by the strategic priority of the geographical orientation which the Alliance will assume in the future: towards East, therefore towards Russia, which is fully asserting its status of a great global force, or towards South, namely towards the place where the crisis in the Middle East is still far from being absorbed, and its hot spots – Syria, Iraq, Libya, but not only them – have, actually, the same high temperature.

Therefore, the concern is present in the whole Europe, since East considers itself to be threatened by Russia and is afraid by the strategic option “South”, where the crisis of the migrants and the certainty of its amplification in the coming period, as well as the amplitude of the confrontation in Syria and Iraq, are concerning the continental southern border of the Alliance. Besides, it was noticed that, if in handling the situation in the Eastern Europe, EU is the leader of the management of the Ukrainian crisis (“the Normandy format”, author of “Minsk-2”), but developed exclusively in the diplomatic field, NATO is quasi-absent in the matter of identifying solutions in South. Obviously, by making this assessment, we are not taking into account a marine action which took place in February, into the Aegean Sea, to control the refugees’ influx, or the punctual military contribution of the various Member States in Syria, Iraq or in Libya.

In South, the center of gravity of the fight against the Islamic caliphate is represented by USA and Russia, which performed aerial operations to support the terrestrial anti-ISIL fighters, while they are sponsored by these countries themselves, as well as by some of the European forces. Washington and Moscow have played a decisive role in the ceasefire agreement concluded in February which currently is in force, and also in identifying a solution for peace, but there are undoubtedly very many things to be done in order to reach the necessary thrust to implement it. In South, as in the East of Europe, the EU’s quasi-absence as a hard power is shocking. In its’ close vicinity, the European organization called to defend its borders and to export security grounded in a proper hard power is almost absent.

The lack of a military force of the organization – the so-called program called “headline goals 2011” consisting of establishing multinational battle-groups of the Member States, mostly failed in its’ full achievement – it leaves EU without its’ necessary presence, which reflects in two developments, both of them being dangerous for the continent. On the one hand, bloody crises, like the Ukrainian or the Syrian one become chronic, making possible other crises to appear; on the other hand, such management means are externalized to others who have the corresponding tools, mainly USA (as in the Middle East), but increasingly visible Russia, too, which successfully created a connection in its own geopolitical interest, between the  developments in the East and the ones in the South (the probability of removing the sanctions for Donbas during this year).

These two developments together amplify a dependence of the continent to its great neighbors from East and West, which in other times, namely during the Cold War, were in the center or ready to start an imminent military confrontation (the famous positioning of the forces belonging to the two superpowers at “Fulda Gap” in Germany).

Creating an European military force became a more and more approached subject in the European environment in the last period of time; thus, for instance, it was recently mentioned the possibility to create an “European army”, related to the ongoing reflection process for creating a security strategy for EU.  The famous British strategist Julius Lindley – French was writing on May 30, 2016, related to these rumors from the British papers on a possible European army, that: “Trapped between EU and US demands for more defence expenditure many EU member-states will doubtless look for a solution. Euro-federalists, such as Juncker, will use this tension to insist that a ‘common’ defence is the only way to balance defence effectiveness with defence efficiency, and thus the only way to meet the ‘obligations’ of membership of both NATO and the Real EU/ eurozone /.  In reality the debt-ceiling would ensure a common defence realizes less not more European defence.”

In these circumstances, the appearance of information on Germany’s decision to increase the number of troops with 7,000 by the year 2023, and also to spend the amount of EUR 130 million on the military equipments, immediately drew attention and caused positions and assessments of the perspectives both from the experts or officials and from the public opinion. In a recently published article (June 5, 2016) from the famous “The New York Times”, entitled “In a Reversal, Germany’s Military Growth Is Met with Western Relief”, the author (Alison Smale) analyzes the impact of the Berlin’s decision on the NATO allies, but also (by the readers’ comments) on the international public opinion. The main thesis of the article is that, if until recently, the German arming would have caused concerns among the European allies, thanks to a military tradition which caused big system troubles (namely the two world wars), today, such a decision of Berlin is welcomed. As the author underlines from the beginning: “It has taken decades since the horrors of  World War II, but Berlin’s modern-day allies and, it seems, German leaders themselves are finally growing more comfortable with the notion that Germany’s role as the European Union’s de facto leader requires a military dimension”. What will be the impact of such a decision of Berlin on the Warsaw NATO Summit (July 8 and 9)? Will it cause important changes in the Alliance’s strategy? However, it seems that Germany started to have an extremely important role in defining the strategic priorities of the North-Atlantic Alliance to the forthcoming meeting of the Member States’ leaders in Warsaw.

 

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