Kelam speaks up for NATO enlargement (25)
Archived Articles 02 Apr 2008  EWR
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European Parliament member from Estonia, Tunne Kelam (EPP-ED), on April 1 criticized the parliamentary security and defence subcommittee chairman's cautious position on the enlargement of NATO.

German MEP Karl von Wogau (EPP-ED) suggested at the committee meeting taking a reserved stance on NATO enlargement for the time being. He said it is necessary to first secure public support for enlargement in EU member countries and also pointed to the possibility of reaching a comprehensive agreement with Russia on this issue.

Kelam expressed his strong opposition to such reservations.

"Our primary duty is to observe our principles and values," he said. "New aspirants for membership in NATO such as Georgia and Ukraine have aimed at joining the same values. We have not the slightest reason to send them negative signals."

The lawmaker pointed out that it is not yet a question of accession to the alliance but of giving a Membership Action Plan (MAP) on the basis of which the accession process can begin.

In his words, it is particularly important in Georgia's case because a large majority of its citizens already have approved an application to join NATO.

"Let's face the facts," Kelam said. "Reasons like weak public support for enlargement in some European NATO country or hope for achieving a package solution with Russia's president-elect are pretexts that harm first and foremost NATO's own self-confidence and reliability."

He asked how countries that have embarked on building democracy and security can be expected to trust in NATO's ability to ensure security and rule of law if the alliance itself, due to domestic policy considerations of one or another member state, is ready to leave its potential allies and friends in the sphere of influence of a neo-imperialist and authoritarian neighbour.

As Kelam sees it, in the long run NATO would have more to lose than the new aspirants for membership through its hesitation and postponement of decisions on further enlargement.

"If the Bucharest summit fails to agree on sending candidate countries a positive signal, such indecision will directly encourage Moscow's aspirations to restore its influence over former Soviet territories," Kelam said.
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