With the start of the meeting of the Chiefs of Staff of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, on Saturday, during which the plans prepared to strengthen NATO’s defense and deterrence capabilities, and the file of support for Ukraine, will be evaluated during the meeting . Spiegel magazine raised many questions after it raised German Chancellor Merkel’s role in obstructing Ukraine’s acceptance of NATO . The sober German magazine asked: Will Germany once again bear the blame for the war, but this time because of cowardice?
SPIEGEL: “Ukraine was never as close to joining the Western alliance as it was when US President George W. Bush stood firmly behind Kiev. But it failed because of Merkel and Sarkozy.”
For the first time since the Russian attack on Ukraine, it has become possible to evaluate previously secret documents released by the Foreign Ministry: drafts of Merkel’s speaking notes, correspondence from the embassies in Washington and NATO in Brussels, and notes from the political administration of German President Steinmeier, who was then Foreign Minister. . The declassified documents showed the role of both America and Germany in the issue of Ukraine’s accession to NATO .
According to the magazine, Ukraine was never as close to joining the Western alliance as it was when US President George W. Bush stood firmly behind Kiev. But it failed because of Merkel and Sarkozy.
For Zelensky, the matter is clear: because of “ridiculous fear” of Russia. Because of this “miscalculation,” his country is witnessing “the worst war in Europe since World War II.”
Zelensky’s accusation prompted the former chancellor to break the silence she has maintained since leaving office. She said she stood by her decisions regarding the 2008 NATO summit. Shortly thereafter, he continued, saying that Ukraine was a country divided on the NATO issue, and Vladimir Putin would have already responded to joining NATO at the time: “I did not want to provoke Russia.” “.
Was Merkel’s action correct?
In order to better understand the behavior of the former chancellor and be able to assess what happened, Spiegel spoke with six participants in the Bucharest summit in 2008. Some of them can be cited, such as the then President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers and other diplomats and advisors, some of whom requested to remain anonymous.
The summit ran from April 2 to 4, from Wednesday to Friday. On the first evening, Merkel had dinner with other heads of state and government, and the next day everyone met with ministers, advisors and military officials in a large group. Finally, President Vladimir Putin was received. Many contemporary witnesses recall that Merkel wore a green jacket on Thursday, which stood out among the men’s gray suits.
The magazine says that great efforts were made by Ukraine to accept its membership in NATO, as Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko spent several months discussing such a reference with American diplomats, and it was signed by the highest constitutional bodies in Ukraine.
Ukrainian politicians have told Americans they are seeking NATO membership. The problem was that reforms were not progressing to meet NATO standards in the military, politics and judiciary. This was only partly due to the Kremlin, which weakened Ukraine wherever possible so as not to lose its influence. On the corruption index issued by Transparency International, Ukraine is ranked 118th, almost at the same level as Russia.
US NATO Ambassador to Brussels Victoria Nuland advised that the Ukrainian government should launch a comprehensive information campaign for this, when they think about NATO. However, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was serving as German Foreign Minister at the time, warned his NATO colleagues in a secret meeting about internal political conspiracies in Kiev, regarding the issue of the Mediterranean Action Plan: He said that “hidden agendas for what will happen cannot be ruled out.”
Things were not going well for a long time in the NATO-Russia Joint Council, where the West and Russia were reluctant to coordinate on security policy.
At the beginning of the 2000s, Putin believed that Russia could become a member of NATO on equal terms with the Americans. It was announced at the time that Ukraine’s membership would not be a problem, but that ended.
At the beginning of 2008, Putin sent the ultra-nationalist populist Dmitry Rogozin, nicknamed “the hooligan” in Moscow, to Brussels. As NATO ambassador, Rogozin was supposed to work to fend off the influence of Russia’s critics, especially among NATO’s new members in Central and Eastern Europe.
Rogozin claimed that the Baltic states, Crimea and large parts of Ukraine belong to the “ancestral lands of the Russian nation.” In his first Council meeting, he noted anti-NATO sentiment in Ukraine and threatened that Ukraine’s accession to NATO might “raise doubts about the existence of Ukraine as a sovereign state.”
Intimidation attempts were part of Moscow’s political repertoire. Putin left no doubt that Russia must become a great power again. This prompted the Germans, led by Merkel, to make more efforts to obstruct the entry of Ukraine. The Americans, in turn, were closely monitoring what Steinmeier was doing in Brussels, who was trying to prevent Ukraine and Georgia from appearing on the Bucharest agenda. When US Ambassador Nuland and her colleagues scored a point, they happily wrote to Washington saying that the German politicians had a dead face.
The German Ambassador to Brussels, Brandenburg, in turn, spoke about the terrifying scenario of a political division in Ukraine. The German diplomat told his American colleagues that “it is impossible to create security in Europe without Russia, and it is foolish to try to do so against Russia.”
President Bush let the Ukraine issue slide for so long that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq dominated the headlines.
President Bush let the Ukraine issue slide for so long that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq dominated the headlines. Bush believed in America’s mission to bring democracy to the world, and was supported by a bipartisan majority in Congress, led by Democratic Senator Joe Biden, the current president of the United States. Many in the United States considered Yushchenko a hero, and leading Democrats and Republicans even nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize after the Orange Revolution.
Bush saw the corruption problem in Ukraine, but he hoped that NATO’s perspective would help reformers in Kiev and also push Moscow to be more moderate in dealing with Ukraine and Georgia. The Americans have repeatedly argued to the Germans that under no circumstances should the impression arise that Kiev and Tbilisi were denied the MAP out of consideration for Moscow.
Officially, the Americans announced that Ukraine would make a sovereign decision on the NATO issue, but many German diplomats and politicians secretly suspected that Washington wanted to expand its sphere of influence. However, Bush and his group were weakened by an obstacle: everyone knew that the president would only remain in office for months.
Secretary of State Rice tried her luck with her colleague Steinmeier. In order to convince him, however, she failed. Bush also tried to persuade Merkel, who was evading him, and Merkel acknowledged the effort with good humor: “George, I’ve already noticed that you’ve been asking a lot of Europeans to talk to me on the phone as well. Then I ask them: Are you calling on behalf of George? And then I know that it is so. There is no difference between calling yourself or calling someone else. I thought about it carefully. It is not a tactical position, I am convinced of it. I don’t think I’m one of those people who says something different in advance than I said at the summit.
Merkel: “I thought about it carefully. It is not a tactical position, I am convinced of that. “I don’t think I’m one of those people who says something different in advance than what I said at the summit.”
At the summit meeting in Bucharest, Bush showed a good face. He always assured Merkel that public contradiction would not pose a problem. Merkel questioned the democratic maturity in Ukraine. It was mindful of the problem of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Their main base was supposed to be in Crimea, a future NATO territory. She referred to the NATO treaty under which only those who contribute to the “security of the North Atlantic region” can become members; No one can seriously claim this in the case of Ukraine and Georgia. Countries suffering from regional conflicts will not be able to join.
In fact, the leader of the Christian Democratic Union, Merkel, did not have much room to maneuver a year before the federal elections. America under the Bush administration was seen as violent and unpredictable.
During the German delegation’s trip to the NATO summit in Bucharest, there were many conversations about the French. Steinmeier was clearly worried. Will Sarkozy surrender to American pressure? It would then be difficult for the Germans to prevent NATO from expanding eastward.
In Bucharest, Merkel and Steinmeier stayed at the Hilton Hotel. Discussions with other delegations began that night. By morning it was clear that Merkel would not stand alone. Members of the German delegation echoed Sarkozy’s position by saying that if the Chancellor retained her position, he would do the same.
According to eyewitnesses, Rice burst into tears because the German position with European support remained strong, and she could not impose the matter as she wished, so tears of anger came from her eyes.
After Bucharest, President Yushchenko tried to change the mood in the country in order to ease Berlin’s reservations. The Kiev Cabinet approved additional funding for public relations, formed an inter-ministerial working group, and Yushchenko’s party launched the “Yes to NATO” campaign. The number of supporters of joining was expected to rise to 43% in 2009, then to 50% in 2010, and finally to 55% in 2011.
US Ambassador Nuland was enthusiastic, and several member states announced that they would assist the government in the accession process, Kiev, and perhaps also the federal government.
But the efforts failed. In 2010, the reformist Yushchenko clearly failed in the presidential elections. Yanukovych, a friend of Russia, won a run-off election against Tymoshenko, burying the accession project.
Vienna : The IAEA condemns Iran’s decision to exclude its inspectors
Rafael Grossi, Director-General of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, on Saturday denounced what he described as the “disproportionate and unprecedented” action taken by Iran to exclude several of the agency’s inspectors appointed to work in the country, hampering its ability to supervise Tehran’s nuclear activities.
The Iranian action comes in response to a call for Tehran, led by the United States, Britain, France, and Germany on the IAEA’s Board of Governors a few days ago, to cooperate immediately with the agency on issues including explaining the finding of traces of uranium in undeclared sites.
But Grossi made clear that he believed Iran had overreacted.
“I strongly condemn this unilateral, disproportionate and unprecedented action that affects the planning and inspection activities that the Agency routinely conducts in Iran and is openly inconsistent with the cooperation that should exist between the Agency and Iran,” Grossi said in a statement.
This Iranian measure, known as “de-appointment” of inspectors, is permissible as IAEA member states generally may use it against inspectors assigned to visit their nuclear facilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and each country’s safeguards agreement with the agency conducting the inspections.
But the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Tehran’s decision went beyond usual practice, adding that Iran informed it that it would prevent the entry of “several” inspectors, without mentioning a number.
“These inspectors are among the agency’s most experienced experts and have unique knowledge of enrichment technology,” the agency said. “Under today’s decision, Iran has effectively removed about a third of the core group of the agency’s most experienced inspectors assigned to Iran.” Iran defended its move and accused the United States, Britain, France and Germany of politicizing the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Tehran: A sovereign decision
For its part, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that its decision to withdraw permits is a sovereign decision, pointing out that the United States and the European Troika (Britain, France, and Germany) misused the agency’s Board of Governors to sabotage the atmosphere of cooperation between it and Iran.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said, “Unfortunately, despite Iran’s positive, constructive and ongoing interaction with the agency, the three European countries and the United States have misused the IAEA Board of Governors to achieve their own political purposes.”
He added, “Of course, Iran will continue its positive cooperation within the framework of the agreements reached, and stresses the necessity of the agency’s neutrality.”
A diplomat based in Vienna said that Iran had canceled the names of all French and German members of the agency’s inspection team. There are actually no Americans or Britons among the team members.
“Although this procedure is officially permitted under the NPT’s safeguards agreement, Iran has practiced it in a way that directly and severely affects the Agency’s ability to effectively conduct inspections in Iran,” the agency stated.
“I call on the Iranian government to reconsider its decision and return to the path of cooperation with the agency,” Grossi said.