The 39th International Conference on Defense and Security is to open in Munich on February 8; it will be held in an extremely complicated situation when experts say that just few days remain before a war in Iraq. This forum is held under the NATO aegis every year; this year it managed to gather a record number of participants of different levels, hundreds of deputies and experts, about 30 defense ministers, the NATO secretary general, foreign ministers from different countries and EU representatives. Russia’s delegation is headed by Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov, his report is waited for with much interest.
Sessions of the conference will last for two days: participants will consider further perspectives of creation of a global security system with participation of a great number of the anti-terrorist coalition members. Activation of the struggle with international terrorism, strengthening of NATO and EU’s roles in this activity, and Russia’s role are closely connected with this problem. However, special attention will be paid not to a theory developed by experts, but to the situation in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf zone.
Participants of the conference will consider possible variants of the Iraqi crisis development in the context of US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s report at a session of the UN Security Council on February 5. In point of fact, Colin Powell demanded that the United Nations must sanction initiation of a war against Saddam Hussein’s regime. Participants of the forum will also exchange their opinions with a view to bring together the hard position of the Bush administration (it will be voiced by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld) and the position of Europe’s leading countries opposing to a war in Iraq. These opponents are Germany (the German delegation is represented by Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Defense Minister Peter Struck), France and Russia.
The head of the Russian delegation, Sergey Ivanov, is considered in the West as a person close to Russia President Vladimir Putin; it is expected that he will precisely report the point of view of the Kremlin, where it is believed that the Iraqi crisis can be still settled peacefully. It is expected that the NATO secretary general, defense ministers of Spain, Greece, foreign ministers from Iran and Pakistan, representing opinions of the Islamic world, will also deliver reports at the conference. Even at the first glance we can suppose that participants of the forum will hardly manage to achieve unanimity, as opinions, political and economic interests differ very much. In the network of the conference, a number of bipartite meetings is to take place with a view of coordinated approaches development. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov will hold negotiations with his American colleague on the Iraqi problem and on mutual military relations. He will also discuss Russia’s cooperation with the alliance with NATO Secretary General George Robertson; the parties will also conclude agreements on cooperation at sea while rendering aid to crashed Russian and NATO submarines.
N.Novoselov MiK news agency
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2003/5/14/36/6835_NATO.html