Monday, April 07, 2008
Hello Skopje: Who told you the road to NATO always runs through Washington?
7 April 2008 - Issue : 776
(Airgram No. 1)
April 2-4 NATO Summit at Bucharest covered many issues, and much of the world would reasonably argue that the broader discussion of NATO missile defense options, expanded troop deployments to Afghanistan, and NATO's eventual admission of Ukraine and Georgia -- in view of Russian objections -- were far more important that adding three new Balkan members that have been in the pipeline for some time: Albania, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Nevertheless, the failure of NATO to agree on FYROM's accession this time around grabbed a few headlines/editorials, while the equally significant admission of Croatia and Albania got almost no attention.Readers have no doubt seen extensive commentary on Greece's leading role in blocking FYROM's accession before its name dispute with Greece has been resolved. It had help of course from other European allies, most notably France. Well done.
Under the smokescreen of competing nationalisms regarding the name issue (which have filled Balkan blog space for nearly as long as it has existed), a key question has surfaced in the last month about why the U.S. has so forcefully led the charge for FYROM's admission. Was the name issue with Greece resolved? Was there a realistic chance for progress?
Were a few hundred Macedonian troops in Afghanistan in Iraq all that were needed to buy a NATO admission chit in Washington? Was FYROM really at the NATO standard in terms of domestic reform? (There is substantial debate about whether FYROM is treating its large Albanian component fairly and allowing equal participation in state and military institutions. Try and find anybody in western FYROM who would argue that these criteria have been met).
From this desk one can conclude that the Bush Administration ignored those issues and focused exclusively on the "L" word. - Legacy. Damn the torpedoes; NATO in its present form exists to deliver a foreign policy "success" for the Bush team, at any cost. We are left with the impression that the callousness of this approach to NATO ally Greece's sensitivities is proof that "business as usual" is the name of the game in the White House and the rapidly emptying State Department.
The Global War on Terror is the only ticket that Skopje believed it had to punch, leaving unresolved its dispute with Greece, since Washington was going to miraculously bully Athens into compliance. Nice try. Did someone forget to tell Skopje about NATO consensus rules?
For the record, it might be useful to quote the text of the key U.S. Government "Airgram" laying out Washington's initial views regarding rumors about a new Macedonian state at he end of WWII (usually longer documents, used alongside telegrams until the 1980's, to circulate policy statements and or reports to/from U.S. embassies abroad).
"The Department has noted increasing propaganda rumors and semi-official statements in favor of an autonomous Macedonia, emanating principally from Bulgaria, but also from YugoslavPartisan and other sources, with the implication that Greek territory would be included in the projected state.
This Government (of USA) considers talk of Macedonian "nation", Macedonian "Fatherland", or Macedonian "national consciousness" to be unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic, nor political reality, and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece.
The approved policy of this Government is to oppose any revival of the Macedonian issue as related to Greece. The Greek section of Macedonia is largely inhabited by Greeks, and the Greek people are almost unanimously opposed to the creation of a Macedonian state.
Allegations of serious Greek participation in any such agitation can be assumed to be false.
This Government (of USA) would regard as responsible any Government or group of Gonernments tolerating or encouraging menacing or aggressive acts of "Macedonian forces" against Greece".