NATO BECOMES MORE BENIGN

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NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY URGES THE ALLIANCE TO RESTORE RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

The Alliance made a halfhearted attempt to restore relations with Russia. Russia said it was not convinced.


NATO Parliamentary Assembly suggested restoration of relations with Russia suspended in the wake of the Russian operation in Georgia this August. Moscow called the measure halfhearted at best. If the Alliance really means to normalize relations, it should publicly dissociate itself from Georgian accusations against Russia.

Resolution of the annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Valencia this Tuesday included a call for “restoration of positive and constructive” relations between the Alliance and Russia in the war on international terrorism, Afghani settlement, nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and Iranian nuclear problem. The document pointed out that relations between Moscow and Brussels “should be based on common values including first and foremost respect for territorial integrity and allegiance to peaceful settlement of conflicts.” NATO leadership usually listens to the Parliamentary Assembly, so that this initiative might be interpreted as a conciliatory act.

Russia in the meantime considers the initiative halfhearted. “If our partners believe that it’s all right for them de facto and eventually de jure to launch the process of restoration of relations between NATO and Russia spiced with the manure regurgitated by Georgian propaganda, then we’ll have to decline,” Russian Representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin was quoted as saying. Rogozin pointed out that it was a look at the text of the Parliamentary Assembly resolution that compelled him to use non-parliamentary phraseology. “The document enumerates the whole bunch of stupid and irresponsible insinuations on the cause and course of the war in South Ossetia official Tbilisi has been spreading,” he said.

Discussion of the August conflict at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly does raise questions. The parliamentarians were clearly pro-Georgian while the Russian side was actually denied the floor. President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili turned up in Valencia and delivered a lengthy speech condemning “Russian military aggression against Georgia and occupation of a part of the Georgian territory.” Along with everything else, Saakashvili spoke of “50 Russian journalists dispatched to South Ossetia in advance to cover the invasion by 3,000 tanks” and promised Europe “lots of small Georgias”. Needless to say, Saakashvili suggested “a swift Georgian-NATO rapprochement” and the Membership Action Plan for Tbilisi at the NATO summit next month as the only way of thwarting this turn of events.

Rogozin on the other hand was denied permission to address the Parliamentary Assembly. Its President Jose Lello explained that “the schedule of speeches was set” and there was no way to fit Rogozin’s address into it. According to Rogozin, Russia was not going to put up with it. “We want restoration of relations between Russia and NATO accompanied by normal public diplomacy,” he said. “It’s wrong when our partners talk of the necessity of reconciliation in the corridors and keep condemning Russia from the dais.”

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