Archive for August 2008

Aιτήματα και Προβλήματα στην Βόρειο Ήπειρο

August 31, 2008

Κωνσταντίνος Χολέβας , Πολιτικός Επιστήμων

31η Αυγούστου 2008

 

 

Λόγω Σκοπιανού, Κυπριακού και παραλόγων τουρκικών απαιτήσεων το θέμα της Βορείου Ηπείρου έχει περάσει σε δεύτερη μοίρα όσον αφορά την επίσημη ελληνική πολιτική και το ενδιαφέρον της κοινής γνώμης. Όμως θα έπρεπε να ασχολούμαστε περισσότερο με την τύχη και τα προβλήματα των ομοεθνών μας που κατοικούν στο Νότο της Αλβανίας, αλλά και γενικότερα σε ολόκληρη την αλβανική επικράτεια. Πρώτον, διότι αφήνουμε τους αλβανικούς εθνικιστικούς κύκλους να πιστεύουν ότι είμαστε υποχωρητικοί και έτσι εκείνοι αποθρασύνονται. Δεύτερο, διότι δεν έχουμε ως έθνος άλλα περιθώρια συρρικνώσεως και η Βόρειος Ήπειρος είναι από τις λίγες εναπομείνασες ζωντανές και πανάρχαιες εστίες Ελληνισμού εκτός συνόρων. Τρίτον, διότι δεν είναι σωστό να αδιαφορούμε για τα παραβιαζόμενα Ανθρώπινα Δικαιώματα μιας υπαρκτής μειονότητος, την ώρα που κάποιοι γείτονες μάς εγκαλούν για δήθεν καταπίεση ανυπάρκτων μειονοτήτων.
Το ενδιαφέρον μας για τον Ελληνισμό της Βορείου Ηπείρου έρχονται να τονωθεί από αξιοσημείωτα περιστατικά των τελευταίων μηνών. Καταγράφουμε ορισμένα από αυτά:
Με δηλώσεις του στα μέσα Απριλίου 2008 ο Δήμαρχος Χειμάρρας και προσωρινός Πρόεδρος της ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑΣ Βασίλης Μπολάνος έκανε ενδιαφέρουσες συγκρίσεις μεταξύ Βορείου Ηπείρου και Κοσσυφοπεδίου και έθεσε, εμμέσως πλην σαφώς, θέμα Αυτονομίας της Β. Ηπείρου εντός Αλβανικού εδάφους. Προφανώς ο Μπολάνος δεν έχει λησμονήσει το Πρωτόκολλο της Κερκύρας της 17-5-1914, το οποίο υπέγραψαν και η Αλβανία και οι τότε Μεγάλες Δυνάμεις, και το οποίο προέβλεπε μία μορφή Αυτονομίας για τον Ελληνισμό χωρίς να αμφισβητούνται τα σύνορα της Αλβανίας. Επρόκειτο για το αποτέλεσμα του Αυτονομιακού Αγώνος των Βορειοηπειρωτών και αναφερόταν σε αυτονομία διοικητική, αστυνομική, εκκλησιαστική και εκπαιδευτική.
Στις 25-27 Ιουλίου τ.έ συνήλθε στα Ιωάννινα το Α΄ Συνέδριο των Απανταχού Ηπειρωτών με συμμετοχή Αποδήμων Ηπειρωτών από όλη την Υφήλιο. Στις εργασίες του Συνεδρίου παρέστησαν εκπρόσωποι των πολιτικών κομμάτων της Ελλάδος, όπως ο κ. Κωνσταντίνος. Μητσοτάκης και ο κ. Γρηγόρης Νιώτης, καθώς και εκπρόσωποι των οργανώσεων του Ελληνισμού της Β. Ηπείρου. Στο Ψήφισμα, το οποίο εξεδόθη, υπάρχουν αρκετές αναφορές στα προβλήματα των Βορειοηπειρωτών, με σημαντικότερες τις εξής:
«… Καταδικάζουμε το κλίμα ανασφάλειας και εκφοβισμού που επικρατεί κατά καιρούς εναντίον των Ελλήνων της Βορείου Ηπείρου και ολόκληρης της Αλβανίας.
Καλούμε την Αλβανία να σεβαστεί και να αποκαταστήσει στους Έλληνες της Β. Ηπείρου και ολόκληρης της Αλβανίας όλα τα εκπαιδευτικά, θρησκευτικά, πολιτικά και πολιτιστικά δικαιώματα, τα οποία απορρέουν από τις διμερείς και διεθνείς συμφωνίες υπογεγραμμένες από τους αντιπροσώπους της από την ημέρα σύστασης του κράτους το 1913, συμπεριλαμβανομένου του δικαιώματος του εθνικού αυτοπροσδιορισμού»
Η τελευταία παράγραφος προφανώς περιλαμβάνει και το Πρωτόκολλο της Κερκύρας του 1914, το οποίο προαναφέραμε.
Το κλίμα ανασφάλειας, το οποίο ορθώς αναφέρεται στο Ψήφισμα επιβαρύνεται από ορισμένα πρόσφατα γεγονότα, τα οποία έρχονται να προστεθούν στην συνεχή αλβανική κακοπιστία, η οποία εκδηλώνεται με το ζήτημα των Τσάμηδων. Στις 10 Αυγούστου μεγάλος αριθμός Ελλήνων της Χειμάρρας διαδήλωσε κατά του Νόμου 7501, με τον οποίο το αλβανικό κράτος κυριολεκτικά αρπάζει περιουσίες πολιτών του που ανήκουν στην ελληνική εθνική κοινότητα. Απέναντί τους βρήκαν την ένοπλη αστυνομία, αλλά και την αντιδιαδήλωση δύο βουλευτών του μικρού κόμματος LSI, δηλαδή της Λίγκας για την Σοσιαλιστική Ολοκλήρωση, το οποίο ανήκει στην αντιπολίτευση. Εξ άλλου στην εφημερίδα ΑΞΙΑ της 9-8-2008 διαβάζουμε το ακόλουθο ρεπορτάζ της Κατερίνας Καρατζά:
«… Θύμα αυτή τη φορά είναι ο ναός της Γέννησης της Θεοτόκου στην Πρεμετή. Το αλβανικό κράτος διεκδικεί τον Ορθόδοξο Ναό για να τον μετατρέψει σε Μέγαρο Πολιτισμού, όπως δηλαδή λειτουργούσε και στην εποχή του Χότζα. Η κυβέρνηση Μπερίσα βαδίζει στα χνάρια του κομμουνιστή δικτάτορα, ο οποίος επέβαλε στη χώρα το καθεστώς αθεϊας».
Είναι επίσης χαρακτηριστικό ότι όλες οι μετά τον Κομμουνισμό αλβανικές κυβερνήσεις διατηρούν τον θεσμό των «μειονοτικών ζωνών» που καθιέρωσαν οι Εμβέρ Χότζα και Ραμίζ Αλία. Μόνο ορισμένα χωριά θεωρούνται μειονοτικά και εκεί επιτρέπεται η λειτουργία τετραταξίου ελληνογλώσσου Δημοτικού για τα παιδιά των Βορειοηπειρωτών. Σε μεγαλύτερες πόλεις, όπως το Αργυρόκαστρο, η Χειμάρρα, η Κορυτσά κλπ. δεν επιτρέπεται η λειτουργία ελληνογλώσσου δημοσίου σχολείου και το κενό καλύπτεται από ιδιωτικά σχολεία ή από Φροντιστήρια, τα οποία στηρίζουν επιχειρηματίες και εκκλησιαστικοί παράγοντες από την Ελλάδα.
Μέσα σε αυτό το κλίμα οι προσεκτικοί χειρισμοί της ελληνικής διπλωματίας πρέπει να αξιοποιήσουν όλα τα υπάρχοντα νομικά και πολιτικά επιχειρήματα. Πρωτίστως πρέπει να δώσουμε κίνητρα στους Βορειοηπειρώτες να μην εγκαταλείψουν οριστικά την πατρογονική γη, αλλά να επιστρέψουν εκεί με τα χρήματα, τα οποία απέκτησαν στην Ελλάδα. Είναι ανάγκη να πιέσουμε την Αλβανία, μέσω και της Ε.Ε. να παύσει κάθε μέτρο, το οποίο δημιουργεί ανασφάλεια. Να ζητήσουμε τα χρήματα που δίνει η χώρα μας ως οικονομική βοήθεια να επενδύονται κατά 70% στη Νότιο Αλβανία, εκεί όπου ζει ο Ελληνισμός. Να θυμίσουμε στην κυβέρνηση των Τιράνων την υποχρέωση που ανέλαβε έναντι της Ευρ. Ενώσεως να πραγματοποιήσει μία αντικειμενική απογραφή των εθνικών μειονοτήτων. Και φυσικά δεν είναι κακό να θυμίζουμε και το Πρωτόκολλο της Κερκύρας, πάντοτε με σεβασμό των υφισταμένων συνόρων και με διάθεση καλής γειτονίας.
Ας γίνει σαφές ότι οι σχέσεις Ελλάδος –Αλβανίας και Ευρώπης-Αλβανίας εξαρτώνται από τα δικαιώματα των Ελλήνων Βορειοηπειρωτών.

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World defence update

August 30, 2008

F-35C passes fuselage construction milestone

 

Northrop Grumman has completed the centre-fuselage section of the first F-35C carrier variant of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the company announced on 19 August. The F-35C, which is being developed for the US Navy (USN), is scheduled to begin flight testing in 2009 and should achieve its initial operating capability in 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Zealand launches fourth Project Protector inshore patrol vessel

 
The last of four inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) built for the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) under the NZD500 million (USD337.3 million) Project Protector programme was launched in Whangarei harbour on 22 August. The Rotoiti-class ship, Taupo , completed a formal naming ceremony a day later at the BAE Systems (formerly Tenix Defence) shipyard

 

 

 

 

 

 
US marines in Afghanistan rely heavily on field artillery

 

In marked contrast to recent operations in Iraq, US Marines have relied heavily on their field artillery during fighting in southern Afghanistan, according to members of the task force. Major Ron McLaughlin, fire support officer for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), told Jane’s the marines had carried out over 100 artillery missions during recent operations in southern Helmand province

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Russia’s UAC publishes financial results for first time

 

Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) – the state-dominated holding company behind the country’s leading fixed-wing aerospace assets – released financial figures for the first time on 27 August, indicating that sales reached RUR42.8 billion (USD1.6 billion) and RUR50.7 billion (USD1.9 billion) in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The group, encompassing 20 organisations including Sukhoi and Tupolev, recorded net losses of USD72 million in 2006 and USD28 in 2005, while the year to 31 December 2006 ended with debt of USD1.5 billion (compared with USD1.16 billion at the end of 2005)

 

 

 

 

 
Source: Jane’s defence journal

Revenge of the Balkans

August 29, 2008

By Gordon N. Bardos -National Interest-

 

Gordon N. Bardos is assistant director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

 

 

The National Interest is published by The Nixon Center

 
08.28.2008

 

 

Strategic shortsightedness—defined as mistaking problems and issues of secondary or tertiary importance for those of vital importance, and being unable to foresee the predictable consequences of specific actions—is becoming a chronic malaise in Washington. So characteristic of U.S. policy in the Balkans in the 1990s and the more recent Iraq tragedy, it is now again apparent in U.S. actions with regard to Kosovo, and their spillover effects in the Caucasus. American policy makers had repeatedly told us that Kosovo was supposed to be a “unique” case, but apparently Vladimir Putin didn’t get the memo. The ghosts of our Balkan problems, it seems, continue to haunt us.

 
The roots of the current crisis in U.S.-Russian relations spread far and wide, and some go back to the Balkans in the 1990s, especially the 1999 U.S. and NATO bombing of Serbia. Although little remarked upon in the West, NATO’s first war marked a watershed in Russian perceptions of the United States and Europe, and, even more importantly, in Russia’s post-Soviet evolution itself. Yegor Gaidar, one of the architects of Russia’s post-Soviet economic reforms, told U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott at the time “if only you knew what a disaster this war is for those of us in Russia who want for our country what you want.” The late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said much the same, noting that Russian views of the West,
started changing with the cruel NATO bombings of Serbia. It’s fair to say that all layers of Russian society were deeply and indelibly shocked by those bombings. . . . So, the perception of the West as mostly a “knight of democracy” has been replaced with the disappointed belief that pragmatism, often cynical and selfish, lies at the core of Western policies. For many Russians it was a grave disillusion, a crushing of ideals.

 
The consequences of this shift in Russian attitudes and perceptions, both for Russia itself and for the United States, were profound. Although it is impossible to say exactly what impact the Kosovo crisis had on Vladimir Putin’s rise to power—less than two months after the end of the Kosovo war he was appointed prime minister, and within seven months he had become president of Russia—the section of Russian elite opinion that he embodied, and how it felt about NATO’s actions in the Balkans, is clear enough.

 
Thus, at an historical juncture at which the primary purpose of U.S. foreign policy should have been fostering an international environment encouraging Russia’s democratic transition, American policymakers chose instead to exploit Moscow’s temporary weaknesses and engage in dubious military adventures (e.g., the bombing of Serbia) and strategic initiatives (e.g., NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders, often in violation of previous promises made to Moscow) of questionable real value to U.S. national interests. Thomas Friedman put the matter into perspective when he recently asked “Wasn’t consolidating a democratic Russia more important than bringing the Czech Navy into NATO?”

 
After the 2003 U.S. attack on Iraq—importantly, without UN Security Council approval—Moscow’s concerns about U.S. unilateralism, forcefully articulated by Putin at his February 2007 address before the Munich Conference on Security Policy—were inflamed by the U.S. push to grant Kosovo independence. At the G8 summit in Germany in June 2007, then–Russian President Putin was already signaling that what he called “universal principles” had to be applied to the frozen conflicts in Kosovo and the Caucasus, and Putin would later warn that U.S. and EU support for Kosovo’s secession from Serbia was “illegal and immoral.” In the UN Security Council, Russia’s permanent representative Vitaly Churkin was trying to impress upon his colleagues the gravity with which Moscow viewed the Kosovo situation, saying that the Kosovo issue could represent the most important question the Security Council dealt with in this decade, and going to the extraordinary length of organizing a Security Council fact-finding mission to the region. The warnings from Moscow over Kosovo, however, were brushed aside by Brussels and Washington, and in both places it was widely assumed that Russia would roll over when presented with a fait accompli.

 

 

The result has been yet another questionable foreign policy initiative for the Bush administration. Six months after declaring independence, only forty-six countries have recognized Kosovo. The EU itself cannot agree on a position, with six of the twenty-seven members refusing to recognize the breakaway Serbian province. Most of the remaining countries that have recognized Kosovo include the likes of San Marino, Liechtenstein, the Marshall Islands and Burkina Faso. None of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have recognized, nor has Indonesia (the largest Muslim country in the world), nor any of the Arab states. All told, three-fourths of the international community is following Moscow’s lead on the Kosovo issue rather than Washington’s.

 

 

In the Caucasus, meanwhile, Kosovo’s declaration of independence on February 17 led to an immediate increase in tensions. Call the Russians what you will, but you can’t say that they are not fast learners. In the current crisis, Moscow copied Washington’s Kosovo playbook in full, accusing Georgian forces of ethnic cleansing and war crimes, labeling Saakashvili a war criminal (just as Washington had done in 1999 with Slobodan Milosevic), and claiming that Georgian actions had disqualified it from ruling over South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the future. Much like NATO officials had done in 1999, Russian officials also claimed that their intervention in Georgia was based on “humanitarian” motives. In fact, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov specifically compared Russian military actions in Georgia to NATO’s actions in Serbia. According to Lavrov,

 
Our military acted efficiently and professionally. It was an able ground operation that quickly achieved its very clear and legitimate objectives. It was very different, for example, from the U.S./NATO operation against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999, when an air bombardment campaign ran out of military targets and degenerated into attacks on bridges, TV towers, passenger trains and other civilian sites, even hitting an embassy. In this instance, Russia used force in full conformity with international law, its right of self-defense, and its obligations under the agreements with regard to this particular conflict. Russia could not allow its peacekeepers to watch acts of genocide committed in front of their eyes, as happened in the Bosnian city of Srebrenica in 1995.
Lavrov is on strong ground here; both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have determined that many of NATO’s actions in 1999 constituted attacks against illegitimate civilian targets, if not outright war crimes.
The Russians also seem relatively unmoved by Western accusations that they are intent on “regime change” in Georgia; probably with good reason, because in the Balkans the United States and the United Kingdom have recently been involved in a bit of regime change themselves.

 

After Serbia’s May parliamentary elections, the American and British ambassadors in Belgrade played key roles in the formation of a coalition government that removed Vojislav Kostunica, the man who defeated Slobodan Milosevic at the polls, from the prime ministership. The parties in the coalition government these ambassadors helped bring into office—believe it or not—include Slobodan Milosevic’s former Socialist Party, and the party of the assassinated Serbian gangster-cum-warlord Zeljko Raznatovic-Arkan, whose paramilitaries were involved in numerous war crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. Apart from Kostunica’s uncompromising stance on defending Serbia’s territorial integrity regarding the Kosovo issue, it is hard to see what the American and British ambassadors had against him. Perhaps they didn’t like Kostunica’s translation of the Federalist Papers. Or maybe they had some issues with his scholarly work on Rousseau and Tocqueville.

 
Predictably, Washington neocons are now invoking a new cold war against Russia. Russians themselves, meanwhile, are growing tired of the double standards they see Washington using against them. Former–Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, for example, summed up the feelings of many of his compatriots when he questioned the value of Russian participation in international institutions:

 

For some time now, Russians have been wondering: if our opinion counts for nothing in those institutions, do we really need them? Just to sit at the nicely set dinner table and listen to lectures? Indeed, Russia has long been told to simply accept the facts. Here’s the independence of Kosovo for you. Here’s the abrogation of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, and the American decision to place missile defenses in neighboring countries. Here’s the unending expansion of NATO. All of these moves have been set against the backdrop of sweet talk about partnership. Why would anyone put up with such a charade?

 
Why indeed? You do not have to be Russian to see the weak foundations on which so much of official Washington’s criticisms of Russia are based. As David Remnick recently noted in the New Yorker,
Even ordinary Russians find it mightily trying to be lectured on questions of sovereignty and moral diplomacy by the West, particularly the United States, which, even before Iraq, had a long history of foreign intervention, overt and covert ­politics by other means. After the exposure of the Bush Administration’s behavior prior to the invasion of Iraq and its unapologetic use of torture, why would any leader, much less Putin, respond to moral suasion from Washington? That is America’s tragedy, and the world’s.

 
Developing a serious policy for dealing with a more powerful and assertive Russia will of necessity be high on the agenda of the next presidential administration. In the 1990s, Washington policy makers may have been able to ignore Russia’s views, or to delude themselves into believing that Russia would never be a serious international player again. But those days are over. This makes it even more urgent for U.S. policy makers to better understand the strategic importance of preventing a renewed downturn in U.S.-Russian relations. Ideological rants, moral outrage and attempts to paint the world in black and white make good TV, but they are dangerous when applied to complex problems that, upon careful and thoughtful analysis, reveal themselves in shades of gray.

 

The late, great American diplomat and statesman (and lifelong Russia hand) W. Averell Harriman once said, “To base policy on ignorance and illusion is very dangerous. Policy should be based on knowledge and understanding.” Harriman would probably be mortified today at the thought that so much of US policy appears based not on ignorance and illusion, but perhaps on something far worse—contempt, be it for post-Soviet Russia, for “old Europe,” or for the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions. For some in Washington, perhaps, even contempt for our own democratic principles and traditions.

Assyrian Bishops Call for Assyrian Autonomy in Iraq

August 29, 2008

 

Assyrian International News Agency

 

http://www.aina.org/

 

Stockholm (AINA) — Ablahad Gallo Shabo is the latest bishop from the Syriac Orthodox Church to call for local self governance for the Assyrians in northern Iraq’s Nineveh plain. The prelate expressed his call for local self governance during an interview with Ishtar TV, which broadcasts from northern Iraq.

Ablahad Gallo Shabo, who ministers a congregation of 30,000 Assyrians in Sweden, said the world community must help the Assyrians to achieve rights to govern themselves in the Nineveh plain, but at the same time that this must not be understood as a wish to break up Iraq.

Earlier this year, the bishop of Belgium and France, Hazail Soumi asked European politicians during a conference in the European parliament in Brussels why Assyrians are not allowed to gain autonomy in Iraq as the Kurds have.

Joining the two Syriac Orthodox bishops in the call for local governance for Assyrians are two bishops of the Assyrian Catholic church, Bawai Soro and Sarhad Jammo, who published a joint statement this year calling for the Nineveh plaines to become governed by Assyrians.

Η «αχίλλειος πτέρνα» του ΝΑΤΟ…

August 29, 2008

Του Χρύσανθου Λαζαρίδη, αντιπροέδρου του ΔΣ/Δ21

 

29η Αυγούστου 2008
Κάποιοι, με αφορμή την κρίση στον Καύκασο, προβλέπουν «επιστροφή στον Ψυχρό Πόλεμο». Κάτι τέτοιο, όμως, παρά την κλιμάκωση που υπάρχει σήμερα και τις δηλητηριώδεις δηλώσεις που ανταλλάσσονται εκατέρωθεν, είναι απίθανο να συμβεί. Και να γιατί:
H Ρωσία διαθέτει, αυτή τη στιγμή, ένα πολύ δυνατό «ατού»: Την εξάρτηση των ΝΑΤΟϊκών δυνάμενων που βρίσκονται στο Αφγανιστάν, από τη ρωσική στήριξη. Πράγματι, μετά και την αποσταθεροποίηση του Πακιστάν, η μόνη δίοδος ανεφοδιασμού των ΝΑΤΟϊκων δυνάμεων στο Αφγανιστάν, είναι από το Ουζμπεκιστάν και το Τανζικιστάν, δύο πρώην σοβιετικές δημοκρατίες που συμμετέχουν στο Σύμφωνο της Σαγκάης: μια – άτυπη επί του παρόντος – συμμαχία, όπου πρωτοστατούν η Ρωσία και η Κίνα.
Το Σύμφωνο της Σαγκάης παίρνει όλο και περισσότερο χαρακτήρα αντι-ΝΑΤΟϊκό τα τελευταία χρόνια. Και το Ιράν συμμετέχει ως «παρατηρητής»…
Οι ΝΑΤΟϊκοί, λοιπόν, βρίσκονται ήδη περικυκλωμένοι από εχθρούς μέσα στο Αφγανιστάν, κι αν κλιμακώσουν την κρίση με τη Ρωσία, κινδυνεύουν να βρεθούν αποκομμένοι απΆ όλα τα γειτονικά κράτη. Προοπτική, αληθινά εφιαλτική για ολόκληρο το ΝΑΤΟ…
Όταν λέει η Μόσχα ότι «δεν επιθυμεί την πλήρη διακοπή των σχέσεων με το ΝΑΤΟ, αλλά δεν θα υποφέρει αν συμβεί κάτι τέτοιο», υπονοεί ότι το ΝΑΤΟ έχει περισσότερο ανάγκη τη Μόσχα (στο Αφγανιστάν) απΆ ότι έχει ανάγκη η Μόσχα το ΝΑΤΟ (οπουδήποτε).
Αν το ΝΑΤΟ κλιμακώσει κι άλλο (σε βάρος της Ρωσίας) στον Καύκασο, τότε η Ρωσία θα κάνει το επόμενο βήμα: θα τους «κλείσει τη στρόφιγγα» στο Αφγανιστάν. Και τότε η ζημιά που θα υποστεί η Ατλαντική συμμαχία (στην πρώτη και μοναδική επιχείρησή της εκτός Ευρώπης) θα είναι χωρίς προηγούμενο.
Το ισχυρότερο – και ακαταμάχητο – «ατού» της Ρωσίας δεν βρίσκεται στον Καύκασο, βρίσκεται στο Αφγανιστάν. Όπου βρίσκεται σήμερα και η «αχίλλειος» πτέρνα του ΝΑΤΟ…
Κι όποιος είναι «ανοικτός» σε τόσα μέτωπα, δεν συγκρούεται με εκείνον από τον οποίο εξαρτάται η επιβίωσή του στο πιο επισφαλές από τα μέτωπα αυτά.
Οι αντίπαλοι της Ρωσίας απειλούν τους Ρώσους με «αντίποινα» (στο… Διεθνή Οργανισμό Εμπορίου και στο G-8!), όταν γνωρίζουν καλύτερα ότι χωρίς τη στήριξη της Ρωσίας στο Αφγανιστάν οι δυνάμεις τους εκεί θα καταρρεύσουν.
Κάποτε το Αφγανιστάν υπήρξε «το Βιετνάμ» της ΕΣΣΔ.
Τώρα κοντεύει να γίνει «το Βιετνάμ» ολόκληρου του ΝΑΤΟ.
Ο μόνος που μπορεί να το αποτρέψει αυτό είναι η ίδια η Ρωσία. ΓιΆ αυτό κι έχει «το πάνω χέρι» στην σημερινή αναμέτρηση.
Και γιΆ αυτό είναι πιθανότερο να υπάρξει εκτόνωση και συμβιβασμός μάλλον, παρά «επιστροφή στον Ψυχρό Πόλεμο»…

Georgia and Kosovo: A Single Intertwined Crisis

August 26, 2008

August 25, 2008

 

Analysis by STRATFOR

www.stratfor.com

 
By George Friedman

 

 

The Russo-Georgian war was rooted in broad geopolitical processes. In large part it was simply the result of the cyclical reassertion of Russian power. The Russian empire — czarist and Soviet — expanded to its borders in the 17th and 19th centuries. It collapsed in 1992. The Western powers wanted to make the disintegration permanent. It was inevitable that Russia would, in due course, want to reassert its claims. That it happened in Georgia was simply the result of circumstance.

There is, however, another context within which to view this, the context of Russian perceptions of U.S. and European intentions and of U.S. and European perceptions of Russian capabilities. This context shaped the policies that led to the Russo-Georgian war. And those attitudes can only be understood if we trace the question of Kosovo, because the Russo-Georgian war was forged over the last decade over the Kosovo question.

Yugoslavia broke up into its component republics in the early 1990s. The borders of the republics did not cohere to the distribution of nationalities. Many — Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and so on — found themselves citizens of republics where the majorities were not of their ethnicities and disliked the minorities intensely for historical reasons. Wars were fought between Croatia and Serbia (still calling itself Yugoslavia because Montenegro was part of it), Bosnia and Serbia and Bosnia and Croatia. Other countries in the region became involved as well.

One conflict became particularly brutal. Bosnia had a large area dominated by Serbs. This region wanted to secede from Bosnia and rejoin Serbia. The Bosnians objected and an internal war in Bosnia took place, with the Serbian government involved. This war involved the single greatest bloodletting of the bloody Balkan wars, the mass murder by Serbs of Bosnians.

Here we must pause and define some terms that are very casually thrown around. Genocide is the crime of trying to annihilate an entire people. War crimes are actions that violate the rules of war. If a soldier shoots a prisoner, he has committed a war crime. Then there is a class called “crimes against humanity.” It is intended to denote those crimes that are too vast to be included in normal charges of murder or rape. They may not involve genocide, in that the annihilation of a race or nation is not at stake, but they may also go well beyond war crimes, which are much lesser offenses. The events in Bosnia were reasonably deemed crimes against humanity. They did not constitute genocide and they were more than war crimes.

At the time, the Americans and Europeans did nothing about these crimes, which became an internal political issue as the magnitude of the Serbian crimes became clear. In this context, the Clinton administration helped negotiate the Dayton Accords, which were intended to end the Balkan wars and indeed managed to go quite far in achieving this. The Dayton Accords were built around the principle that there could be no adjustment in the borders of the former Yugoslav republics. Ethnic Serbs would live under Bosnian rule. The principle that existing borders were sacrosanct was embedded in the Dayton Accords.

In the late 1990s, a crisis began to develop in the Serbian province of Kosovo. Over the years, Albanians had moved into the province in a broad migration. By 1997, the province was overwhelmingly Albanian, although it had not only been historically part of Serbia but also its historical foundation. Nevertheless, the Albanians showed significant intentions of moving toward either a separate state or unification with Albania. Serbia moved to resist this, increasing its military forces and indicating an intention to crush the Albanian resistance.

There were many claims that the Serbians were repeating the crimes against humanity that were committed in Bosnia. The Americans and Europeans, burned by Bosnia, were eager to demonstrate their will. Arguing that something between crimes against humanity and genocide was under way — and citing reports that between 10,000 and 100,000 Kosovo Albanians were missing or had been killed — NATO launched a campaign designed to stop the killings. In fact, while some killings had taken place, the claims by NATO of the number already killed were false. NATO might have prevented mass murder in Kosovo. That is not provable. They did not, however, find that mass murder on the order of the numbers claimed had taken place. The war could be defended as a preventive measure, but the atmosphere under which the war was carried out overstated what had happened.

The campaign was carried out without U.N. sanction because of Russian and Chinese opposition. The Russians were particularly opposed, arguing that major crimes were not being committed and that Serbia was an ally of Russia and that the air assault was not warranted by the evidence. The United States and other European powers disregarded the Russian position. Far more important, they established the precedent that U.N. sanction was not needed to launch a war (a precedent used by George W. Bush in Iraq). Rather — and this is the vital point — they argued that NATO support legitimized the war.

This transformed NATO from a military alliance into a quasi-United Nations. What happened in Kosovo was that NATO took on the role of peacemaker, empowered to determine if intervention was necessary, allowed to make the military intervention, and empowered to determine the outcome. Conceptually, NATO was transformed from a military force into a regional multinational grouping with responsibility for maintenance of regional order, even within the borders of states that are not members. If the United Nations wouldn’t support the action, the NATO Council was sufficient.

Since Russia was not a member of NATO, and since Russia denied the urgency of war, and since Russia was overruled, the bombing campaign against Kosovo created a crisis in relations with Russia. The Russians saw the attack as a unilateral attack by an anti-Russian alliance on a Russian ally, without sound justification. Then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin was not prepared to make this into a major confrontation, nor was he in a position to. The Russians did not so much acquiesce as concede they had no options.

The war did not go as well as history records. The bombing campaign did not force capitulation and NATO was not prepared to invade Kosovo. The air campaign continued inconclusively as the West turned to the Russians to negotiate an end. The Russians sent an envoy who negotiated an agreement consisting of three parts. First, the West would halt the bombing campaign. Second, Serbian army forces would withdraw and be replaced by a multinational force including Russian troops. Third, implicit in the agreement, the Russian troops would be there to guarantee Serbian interests and sovereignty.

As soon as the agreement was signed, the Russians rushed troops to the Pristina airport to take up their duties in the multinational force — as they had in the Bosnian peacekeeping force. In part because of deliberate maneuvers and in part because no one took the Russians seriously, the Russians never played the role they believed had been negotiated. They were never seen as part of the peacekeeping operation or as part of the decision-making system over Kosovo. The Russians felt doubly betrayed, first by the war itself, then by the peace arrangements.

The Kosovo war directly effected the fall of Yeltsin and the rise of Vladimir Putin. The faction around Putin saw Yeltsin as an incompetent bungler who allowed Russia to be doubly betrayed. The Russian perception of the war directly led to the massive reversal in Russian policy we see today. The installation of Putin and Russian nationalists from the former KGB had a number of roots. But fundamentally it was rooted in the events in Kosovo. Most of all it was driven by the perception that NATO had now shifted from being a military alliance to seeing itself as a substitute for the United Nations, arbitrating regional politics. Russia had no vote or say in NATO decisions, so NATO’s new role was seen as a direct challenge to Russian interests.

Thus, the ongoing expansion of NATO into the former Soviet Union and the promise to include Ukraine and Georgia into NATO were seen in terms of the Kosovo war. From the Russian point of view, NATO expansion meant a further exclusion of Russia from decision-making, and implied that NATO reserved the right to repeat Kosovo if it felt that human rights or political issues required it. The United Nations was no longer the prime multinational peacekeeping entity. NATO assumed that role in the region and now it was going to expand all around Russia.

Then came Kosovo’s independence. Yugoslavia broke apart into its constituent entities, but the borders of its nations didn’t change. Then, for the first time since World War II, the decision was made to change Serbia’s borders, in opposition to Serbian and Russian wishes, with the authorizing body, in effect, being NATO. It was a decision avidly supported by the Americans.

The initial attempt to resolve Kosovo’s status was the round of negotiations led by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari that officially began in February 2006 but had been in the works since 2005. This round of negotiations was actually started under U.S. urging and closely supervised from Washington. In charge of keeping Ahtisaari’s negotiations running smoothly was Frank G. Wisner, a diplomat during the Clinton administration. Also very important to the U.S. effort was Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried, another leftover from the Clinton administration and a specialist in Soviet and Polish affairs.

In the summer of 2007, when it was obvious that the negotiations were going nowhere, the Bush administration decided the talks were over and that it was time for independence. On June 10, 2007, Bush said that the end result of negotiations must be “certain independence.” In July 2007, Daniel Fried said that independence was “inevitable” even if the talks failed. Finally, in September 2007, Condoleezza Rice put it succinctly: “There’s going to be an independent Kosovo. We’re dedicated to that.” Europeans took cues from this line.

How and when independence was brought about was really a European problem. The Americans set the debate and the Europeans implemented it. Among Europeans, the most enthusiastic about Kosovo independence were the British and the French. The British followed the American line while the French were led by their foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who had also served as the U.N. Kosovo administrator. The Germans were more cautiously supportive.

On Feb. 17, 2008, Kosovo declared independence and was recognized rapidly by a small number of European states and countries allied with the United States. Even before the declaration, the Europeans had created an administrative body to administer Kosovo. The Europeans, through the European Union, micromanaged the date of the declaration.

On May 15, during a conference in Ekaterinburg, the foreign ministers of India, Russia and China made a joint statement regarding Kosovo. It was read by the Russian host minister, Sergei Lavrov, and it said: “In our statement, we recorded our fundamental position that the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo contradicts Resolution 1244. Russia, India and China encourage Belgrade and Pristina to resume talks within the framework of international law and hope they reach an agreement on all problems of that Serbian territory.”

The Europeans and Americans rejected this request as they had rejected all Russian arguments on Kosovo. The argument here was that the Kosovo situation was one of a kind because of atrocities that had been committed. The Russians argued that the level of atrocity was unclear and that, in any case, the government that committed them was long gone from Belgrade. More to the point, the Russians let it be clearly known that they would not accept the idea that Kosovo independence was a one-of-a-kind situation and that they would regard it, instead, as a new precedent for all to follow.

The problem was not that the Europeans and the Americans didn’t hear the Russians. The problem was that they simply didn’t believe them — they didn’t take the Russians seriously. They had heard the Russians say things for many years. They did not understand three things. First, that the Russians had reached the end of their rope. Second, that Russian military capability was not what it had been in 1999. Third, and most important, NATO, the Americans and the Europeans did not recognize that they were making political decisions that they could not support militarily.

For the Russians, the transformation of NATO from a military alliance into a regional United Nations was the problem. The West argued that NATO was no longer just a military alliance but a political arbitrator for the region. If NATO does not like Serbian policies in Kosovo, it can — at its option and in opposition to U.N. rulings — intervene. It could intervene in Serbia and it intended to expand deep into the former Soviet Union. NATO thought that because it was now a political arbiter encouraging regimes to reform and not just a war-fighting system, Russian fears would actually be assuaged. To the contrary, it was Russia’s worst nightmare. Compensating for all this was the fact that NATO had neglected its own military power. Now, Russia could do something about it.

At the beginning of this discourse, we explained that the underlying issues behind the Russo-Georgian war went deep into geopolitics and that it could not be understood without understanding Kosovo. It wasn’t everything, but it was the single most significant event behind all of this. The war of 1999 was the framework that created the war of 2008.

The problem for NATO was that it was expanding its political reach and claims while contracting its military muscle. The Russians were expanding their military capability (after 1999 they had no place to go but up) and the West didn’t notice. In 1999, the Americans and Europeans made political decisions backed by military force. In 2008, in Kosovo, they made political decisions without sufficient military force to stop a Russian response. Either they underestimated their adversary or — even more amazingly — they did not see the Russians as adversaries despite absolutely clear statements the Russians had made. No matter what warning the Russians gave, or what the history of the situation was, the West couldn’t take the Russians seriously.

It began in 1999 with war in Kosovo and it ended in 2008 with the independence of Kosovo. When we study the history of the coming period, the war in Kosovo will stand out as a turning point. Whatever the humanitarian justification and the apparent ease of victory, it set the stage for the rise of Putin and the current and future crises.

World militaary update

August 23, 2008

Iranian two-stage SLV passes test launch
Iran has test fired a satellite launch vehicle (SLV) that could pave the way for the eventual firing of a ballistic missile with a range of up to 5,000 km. Iranian state media broadcast images of a 16 August firing of the Safir SLV from the Semnan space-research centre about 175 km west of the capital, Tehran

 

 
Lockheed Martin plans Sikorsky ARPDD development

 

Lockheed Martin is to develop a Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk Automatic Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination (ARPDD) system. The ARPDD is an upgrade to the MH-60R’s current Telephonics AN/APS-147 multimode radar and is designed to offer anti-submarine protection for the US Navy’s (USN’s) Carrier Strike Groups. The AN/APS-147 is capable of detecting a periscope but, according to the navy, takes a skilled operator aboard the MH-60R to recognise it as such among other surface objects

 

 
US Navy agrees to buy third Zumwalt-class destroyer

 

The US Navy has agreed to buy a third Zumwalt-class (DDG 1000) destroyer in Fiscal Year 2009 (FY09), just four weeks after deciding to halt the advanced technology programme at two ships and divert funds into Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) destroyers. The decision was confirmed in a letter dated 18 August from Navy Secretary Donald Winter and Admiral Gary Roughead, the chief of Naval Operations, to Congressman Patrick Kennedy, whose Rhode Island constituency includes employers such as Raytheon and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center

 

 
NATO withdraws exercise invitation for Russian frigate

 

NATO has decided that a Krivak-class frigate of the Russian Federation Navy will not be allowed to participate in Operation ‘Active Endeavour’ (OAE) in the Mediterranean Sea. The 3,650-ton RFS Ladny is “not welcome” on the counterterrorism mission, NATO spokesperson Carmen Romero told Jane’s on 21 August

 

 

 

 

 

US rebuffs Israel’s request for aerial refuelling tankers

 

The United States has denied an Israeli request to procure new Boeing KC-767 aerial refuelling aircraft owing to fears they could be used in an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, a senior Israeli defence source said. “The Pentagon made it clear that, within the current context of a potential strike on Iran, they will not sell us new aerial tankers,” the source told Jane’s on 17 August of the request made during the July visit to Washington by Defence Minister Ehud Barak

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian MoD plans programme funding restructure

 

India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has agreed “in principle” to restructure the way in which defence programmes are funded so that the armed forces begin contributing 10 per cent to the cost of developing new weapon systems. The MoD’s Defence Acquisition Council, the body that approves the military’s capital acquisitions over a 15-year time-span and decides whether to import weapon systems or to develop them locally, has agreed to demands from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the services to invest in high-technology platform and system development projects

 

 

 

 

 
MDA expresses concern over 2,000 km-range Iranian missiles

 
US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Lieutenant General Henry ‘Trey’ Obering has claimed that Iran is working on an extended-range version of the Shahab-3 and a new 2,000 km medium-range ballistic missile, designated Ashura, at a 15 July press conference at the Pentagon. Unofficial reports in 2007 and early 2008 suggested that Ashura is a solid-propellant missile, probably of two-stage configuration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Jane’s Defence Journal