Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer: "If there is a Russian-Ukrainian dispute on energy security I think NATO allies should pick that up".

Let me not to tell anything about Ukrainian politics today. Everything is going well here in Kiev, the politicians are going on with presidential campaign, claiming each other in all the possible sins. The main topics of discussion: gas contracts (Presidential secretariat has issued a new research, making the conclusion that the papers signed in Moscow are not good for Ukraine and may - and possibly should - be revised), the date of Presidential election (December 2008 or January 2009), and a couple of dismissals and appointments - current and prospective. Instead of Ukrainian domestic politics saga, I propose some NATO-reading for today: Transatlantic Leadership For A New Era: Speech by the NATO Secretary General at the Security and Defence Agenda - 26 January 2009. This speech, followed with questions and answers session, really worth to be read. I will give here the words of NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, which were concerning directly Ukraine and its geopolitical role in global processes.

"We have seen how the need for reliable energy supply is transforming from a mainly economic question into a central security issue. For many nations, being cut off from energy is a matter of national survival. The recent quarrel between Russia and Ukraine was only the latest reminder of this. This latest crisis showed how a bilateral dispute can have a powerful knock-on effect, both in terms of the heat in houses and a chill in international relations".

"Clearly, no one gets a veto over NATO enlargement. That process is central to our aim of consolidating Europe as an undivided and democratic security space and it is not negotiable. The pace and direction will be of our choosing. But the NATO-Russia relationship is too valuable to be stuck in never-changing arguments. We need a positive agenda, one that befits the importance of both Russia and NATO".

"Considering the political, security and energy issues that run through Central Asia and the Caucasus, I believe we need stepped up focus on those regions as well. I think NATO should consider its role in energy security much more seriously. There is, to my mind, clear added value for the Alliance".

"It is simply not enough to have Heads of State and Government provide NATO with a mandate in energy security, yet to have Allies hesitate to use NATO as a forum for discussion during crises".

"The Bucharest decision was rather clear, or was very clear, I should say, and as I said in my introductory remarks, we will set the pace and we will decide upon the moment. But the moment is performance-based. So I cannot give you a timeframe. It is not around the corner, I would say, as we speak, as far as, of course, Ukraine and Georgia are concerned. We are intensifying our relationship, as you know, through the NATO-Ukraine Commission, the NATO-Georgia Commission, but I do think that enlargement in this sense is not around the corner, but I can't be more specific here in that regard".

"If there is a Russian-Ukrainian dispute on energy security I think NATO allies should pick that up. Not because we have any ambition, or we pretend to play any role. Please, no! There was a Czech presidency which immediately was proactive and involved. That was the European Union involved. Other people were involved. Certainly not NATO. But that does not mean that those subjects are irrelevant for NATO, if you agree with me that NATO is a political military organization".

"I think Russia cannot afford to have a non-dialogue with NATO, and NATO cannot afford to have a non-dialogue with Russia".

"Of course I'm discussing protecting pipelines in times of crisis. I said protecting pipelines is first and foremost a national responsibility. And it should stay like that. NATO is not in the business of protecting pipelines. But when there's a crisis, or if a certain nation asks for assistance, NATO could, I think, be instrumental in protecting pipelines on land".

"NATO is not in the energy business. So if in a situation like we had over the past weeks NATO allies are totally deprived of gas you will not see a NATO Secretary General stepping forward, raise his finger and tell the Europeans or the Russians or the Ukrainians for that matter, listen, guys, you have to stop this. We have other international organizations, other people to do this, and certainly not a NATO Secretary General, the European pres... the European Union presidency, rather, or others.
So we are not in the energy business, but of course when a nation is for a long time deprived of all gas, or all energy, in the North Atlantic Council, and quite rightly so, when a nation raises its finger and says, Secretary General, we would like to discuss the energy situation, should NATO then say no, that's none of our business? I don't think so. Although you'll not see us in the forefront in the energy business because we are not in the energy business. We're in the security business.
And I say again, we usually use the word energy security. And that's our business".

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