NATO summit in Istanbul

No doubt that NATO is appreciated greatly by the former Warsaw Pact members as well as the Baltic states. They will wonder about the protests against NATO in Istanbul.

NATO has gone through great changes to harmonize with the post-Cold War era. Even if the alliance’s basic function is to defend its members against a possible attack, its main aim today is to preserve security by contributing to stability outside NATO. Threat perceptions are different now. Terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts and the collapse of state systems are among today’s threats. NATO is trying to structure its forces to counter these threats. The responsibility for the international forces in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo falls to NATO. In Bosnia, the responsibility will be transferred to the European Union. NATO and Russia are establishing broader cooperation.

The most important problem on the summit’s agenda will be Afghanistan. The NATO secretary-general wants to increase NATO’s military presence and political role in the region. Some say that if NATO is successful in Afghanistan, then it can play a role in Iraq and can mediate between Israel and Palestine. A NATO role in Iraq would require UN Security Council approval and an invitation by the political authority representing Iraq’s sovereignty. However, it’s impossible to foresee developments in Iraq at this stage. The NATO secretary-general is also very cautious about the Greater Middle East Initiative. He’s aware of the situation in the Middle East, which is not favorable for such initiatives.

The summit has a special meaning for Turkey. US President George W. Bush will also visit Ankara for one day. EU leaders, who will decide whether or not to start accession talks with Turkey this December, will also come to the summit. The summit is a unique opportunity to influence both the US and EU. The Eurovision song contest was more effective than expected, and now its NATO’s turn.”

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