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The Summit Has Begun
OBSERVER - October 14th 2004Romanians prepared one year and a half the informal meeting of the Defense Ministers in the NATO countries, which began yesterday in Poiana Brasov, one of the most guarded places on the Globe these days. The guests discussed about Allianceâs reform and about its operations. The Afghanistan situation was the centre of the discussions.
LIBIU MATEESCU - BrasovThe informal reunion of the Defense Ministers in the NATO countries began yesterday in the Conference Hall of the "Piatra Mare" Hotel. The meeting was opened by the NATO General Secretary, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who mentioned that the North-Atlantic Organization is going through a transformation process for the time being: "There was a time in which Allianceâs main concern was modeling other statesâ decisions such that Allianceâs forces wouldnât have to deal with the test of the real operations". Scheffer stated that these times are gone, and that now NATO has to enforce the relationships between the operational roles and the political background. Against the procedure of such meetings, General Secretaryâs speech was followed by the welcoming speech of the Romanian Defense Minister, Ioan Mircea Pascu, where he emphasized the true availability of the Romanian army forces of getting involved in Allianceâs operations.
INCOMPLETE PICTURE. As announced the previous days, conferenceâs debates have been secret. At the end of them, the participants took the traditional group picture, which was about to be missed because one of the officials forgot to be present for it, and the NATO General Secretary and the Supreme Commander of the European Allied Forces, General James Jones, responded some of the questions of the small group of accredited journalists.
THE NATO TROOPS. In the short declarations given, the two NATO representatives have reiterated the idea of enforcing Allianceâs operational role, which few years ago was pretty static. This desideratum has been reached by the appearance of the Quick Reaction Force of NATO, a multinational combined force having terrestrial, aerial, maritime and special operations troops. By now the NATO troops took action in Iraq, Afghanistan and with the occasion of the Olympics and extending these operations is taken into consideration at the time being. The Response Force has been made operational, and in October 2006 this is to become fully operational. In the first phase it should have 17,000 soldiers, and in the final phase, 20,000. Since the journalists werenât satisfied with these lacunose statements numerous members of the delegations agreed to give extra information concerning the meetings. One of them was Minister Pascu, who said the more theoretical discussions in the morning will be followed by approaches to the operations in discussion from the lunch time. This way, the Romanian delegation was programmed to have bilateral discussions with Italian and French dignitaries.
LETâS DANCE. The extremely condense schedule of this day ended up with the reception organized by the Brasov Military Center, where the NATO General Secretary and the delegationsâ chiefs, together with their wives, have been met by President Ion Iliescu and by External Affairs Minister, Mircea Geoana.
THE RUSSIANS CAME. Yesterday afternoon, the Russian Federation delegation, led by Defense Minister, Serghei Ivanov, also arrived in Poiana Brasov. Today they are to take part in an informal meeting with the NATO representatives, during the NATO-Russia Council.
REFORM"There are less satisfaction reasons regarding the monitoring forces and supporting them in the operationsâ theatres for long periods of time and measures have to be taken to enforce the liaison between the political commitments and the concrete military actions of the Alliance" - Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, General Secretary of NATO.
CONFIRMATIONThe Supreme Commander of the allied forces in Europe, General James Jones, confirmed yesterday that the restructuring process of the American forces in Europe is irreversible. However, there has been no such decision taken in Washington, and the General didnât say anything precise regarding placing some military bases in the Romanian territory. The high official stated, on the other hand, that there are "intense discussions" with the European officials on this theme, and the American Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, confirmed this hypothesis in Bucharest.
UNDER THE UN SIGNThe Romanian Defense Minister, Ioan Mircea Pascu, stated yesterday that Romania could send more soldiers in Iraq, to insure the electionsâ security, only if the UN involves and if the direct and indirect protection of the UN employees is insured. The Minister referred, in the context, to the "close" protection, using bodyguards, and to the "distant" protection, using special filters. Pascu stated that his Ministry analyses the technical and political factors, but the problem hasnât been discussed by now in the Countryâs Supreme Defense Council. (Anca Alda)
OBSTACLEUnited States put pressure on the NATO allies in order for them to accept the fusion between the International Assistance Force for Security (IAFS), which has 9,000 soldiers, and the American soldiers, more than 17,000, who take part in the Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan operation. The German Defense Minister, Peter Struck, stated yesterday, his concern and dissatisfaction towards the USA plan, which targets the involvement of the military operations assistance forces in Afghanistan. (Anca Aldea)
Translation: SORIN BALAN