“President Bush is my friend, and he isn’t a moron”
The NATO summit in Prague is highly likely to go down in history not because seven new members joined NATO at the summit. That was a certain fact even before the summit. The recent summit in Prague has become one of the most scandalous events of recent times.
At the beginning of the summit, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko wasn’t given an entry visa to the Czech Republic, which was the first scandal. The Belarussian president certainly was seriously insulted, but couldn’t do anything in the situation. NATO officials hinted to his colleague, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, that his presence in Prague was also unwanted. However, Leonid Kuchma pretended that he didn’t understand the hints and arrived all the same. We are going to learn soon if his trip was fruitful at all or not. Because Ukraine and Belarus are not the pillars of international politics, the scandals connected with these countries calmed down rather quickly. The American president has quite unexpectedly become the hero of the event. But was it actually unexpected?
When the NATO summit started, George W. Bush in every possible way tried to keep his distance from German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Journalists suppose that this is connected with Germany’s negative attitude toward America’s planned war against Iraq. However, the president’s intention to avoid the German chancellor was highly likely connected with personal motives: the US president remembers that right before the elections to Germany’s Bundestag in September, the German minister of justice compared Bush with Hitler. It is quite natural that any normal person would be deeply offended with such an insulting comparison. But a Canadian diplomat (several mass media mention it was the Canada prime minister’s adviser for relations with the press Francoise Ducros) dared to doubt Bush’s sanity. The anonymous author who called the US president a “moron” was the focus of attention of the world news agencies. The diplomat declared that Bush seemed to be more preoccupied with building up moral support for his attack on Iraq, and not with the summit’s agenda, the adoption of new members. After a pause, Canada Prime Minister Jean Chretien apologized to George W. Bush. However, this apology was done somewhat awkwardly. According to Reuters, the Canada prime minister said: “President Bush is my friend, and he is not a moron.” It’s not clear whether George W. Bush is feeling better after these words.
As for the Iraqi question, the NATO Council passed a decision that Baghdad should strictly observe the resolutions of the UN Security Council. The Americans liked the tone of the NATO’s statement, although none of the countries promised immediate military help to Washington if the USA launches a war (this, of course, does not apply to Great Britain). NATO is concerned with fighting terrorism; for this very reason, a rapid reaction force of 21,000 people is to be created.
It was predictable from the very beginning that NATO might pass decisions of this kind. Many observers feared that anti-globalists might do something extraordinary during the Prague summit, but they didn’t. Nothing in particular occurred during the anti-globalist demonstrations.
Nothing new was said at the Prague summit concerning relations between NATO and Russia; the parties are still ready to keep up a dialogue, but Russia isn’t welcomed by NATO. Moscow declares that Russia isn’t all that eager to join the international organization.
On the whole, the Prague summit was rather ordinary (not to mention the “moron” scandal). It is for sure that decisions passed at the summit will have consequences, it is not clear what exactly, but they will. It is perfectly evident that members of the alliance will do their best to persuade each other of NATO’s necessity. So far, they are successful with this.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2002/5/14/36/3400_summit.html
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