The Council on Foreign Relations, an influential American think tank, published a very interesting interview yesterday called "NATO Foreign Ministers Unlikely to Push Georgia, Ukraine Membership". The U.S. ambassador to the NATO during the Clinton administration Robert E. Hunter is talking with Bernard Gwertzman, a former foreign editor and diplomatic correspondent at the New York Times, about future meeting of Alliance’s foreign ministers on 2-3 December, and the possibility for Ukraine to get the Membership Action Plan proposal.
“I don’t think anybody wants to run the risk of giving the Russians a pretext to do what they did against Georgia. Nor do people want to pretend that Ukraine is anywhere near ready to join NATO. Nor are NATO countries ready to give a security commitment to Ukraine”, Mr. Hunter emphasized. Though it is not new information for Ukrainians anymore.
“Georgia is an out-of-the-way part of the world, which no one in the alliance, we discovered last summer, is prepared to defend. Ukraine, by contrast, is in Central Europe. It is on the classic invasion routes to and from different countries there, and it is very important that the Russians understand that doing something similar to what they did in Georgia, or even a good deal less, would call into question the fundamental understandings that were worked out in the last fifteen or so years, since the end of the Cold War”, he added. But “at the moment, no one really sees Ukraine or Georgia coming into NATO”, Robert E. Hunter assured. First of all, “Ukraine is having lots of internal problems. In Ukraine, NATO membership is not something that is particularly popular”.
“Would countries really be willing to fight for Georgia or for Ukraine, under circumstances of foreign aggression? In Georgia's case, the answer is clearly no. In Ukraine, how do you convince the Russians that the answer is “yes” without actually doing things that might make a Russian intervention more likely? And that would include bringing Ukraine prematurely into NATO”, Mr. Hunter assumes. The link to the interview is right here.
The same day the International Herald Tribune published another article which demonstrates that the US didn't give up the very idea to grant MAP to Ukraine and Georgia. Judy Dempsey reports from Berlin that "the United States has started a diplomatic offensive among NATO capitals in Europe, urging top diplomats to offer Georgia and Ukraine membership to the alliance without first fulfilling requirements under the Membership Action Plan".
"In an unexpected new initiative, Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, has already held lengthy telephone conversations with French and German and other senior envoys, asking them to discard the Membership Action Plan", according to the NATO diplomats. It was not clear whether she or anyone else from the State Department had discussed the move with the incoming Obama administration.
"NATO envoys are already divided over the U.S. initiative. Up to 10 countries, including France, Germany, Norway, Luxembourg, Spain and Italy, opposed the proposal during a meeting Tuesday at NATO headquarters in Brussels", the newspaper states.
The link to this article: U.S. starts diplomatic offensive on NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine - International Herald Tribune