OPINION

Coalition complexities

The meeting in Moscow last week between NATO Secretary-General George Robertson and the Russia-NATO Council underscored the profundity of the ongoing transformation of the transatlantic alliance. NATO’s nascent rapprochement with the former rival superpower not only indicates the progress that has been achieved in international relations so that the West no longer feels threatened by Russia; it also reflects the complexities within the North Atlantic coalition itself. Indeed, some NATO members are more wary of the alliance’s transformation than their former foes in Moscow are. Reports published in the Sunday Greek Kathimerini emphasize the concerns of Greece, which seeks to keep at least one NATO headquarters on its territory, as the shift of NATO’s focus to the east will enhance Ankara’s role. The reports also reveal European fears that NATO expansion will reinforce the status of the United States, which will be tempted to launch non-defensive missions on a global scale. It is indicative of the situation that the heated consultations and negotiations in Brussels have yet to clarify the extent to which NATO action will require a United Nations mandate and whether the «new» NATO will cooperate with the embryonic European defense structure – or whether the Euroforce will play a subordinate role. If the US-led attack on Iraq highlighted the conflicting views and interests between the Atlanticists and the Europeanists, the transformation of NATO from a defensive alliance into a US-controlled instrument for international military intervention once again raises the issue of an independent European defense. Greece, in particular, faces the additional question of the impact that America’s eastward strategic shift will have on the Balkan peninsula and our relations with Turkey. As the EU is called upon to decide whether it will move on to hammer out an autonomous European defense structure or whether it will relinquish all ambitions to an autonomous security framework, Greece’s political elite is facing a double challenge: It must take a position on these European dilemmas weighing on the development of transatlantic ties but, at the same time, it has to keep an eye fixed on the fragile equilibrium between Athens and Ankara, which has depended on Washington.