NATO chief seeks bigger political role for alliance

7th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

7 October 2004 , BERLIN - NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called Thursday for expanding the 26-nation Alliance's political role and insisted NATO could not remain a mere military "subcontractor". Scheffer, who was having meetings with German Defence Minister Peter Struck and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, made his appeal at a security conference held in the German capital. He insisted that while NATO was playing a far bigger global role than in the past, its political punch remained too lim

7 October 2004

BERLIN - NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called Thursday for expanding the 26-nation Alliance's political role and insisted NATO could not remain a mere military "subcontractor".

Scheffer, who was having meetings with German Defence Minister Peter Struck and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, made his appeal at a security conference held in the German capital.

He insisted that while NATO was playing a far bigger global role than in the past, its political punch remained too limited.

"In the Balkans, and even more in Afghanistan, we provide the basis for all other efforts. But we don't seem to be very involved in the political processes in these regions," complained Scheffer.

NATO, he said, needed to be built up as a forum for political debate at its weekly key decision-making the body, the North Atlantic Council.

Scheffer gave several reasons NATO would likely win the new role he is seeking, including:

- The overall security environment: "Terrorism, failed states and the spread of weapons of mass destruction are threats of an unprecedented nature," said Scheffer. He noted that the "superglue" of the Soviet threat which bound NATO together during the Cold War may be gone, but added that when Allies absorbed the full magnitude of new threats their security outlooks would again become very close.

- NATO's growing cooperation with the European Union and the United Nations would also upgrade the Alliance's political role, he said.

Turning to NATO's troop training programme for Iraq, Scheffer declined to say how many Alliance military trainers would be sent to Baghdad.

"I don't like the numbers game," said Scheffer after repeated questioning by reporters, adding: "I do not yet know what the firm numbers are going to be."

NATO ambassadors agreed last month to create a military training academy in Iraq, raising the number of trainers from 40 now to about 300.

"It will be a difficult environment ... we will need a lot of force protection," admitted Scheffer.

Germany, which strongly opposed the Iraq war, has refused to send any military personnel to Iraq and is operating an Iraqi police training programme in the United Arab Emirates.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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