By Anna Varfolomeeva
BEIJING— (October 21 —M4relay) – Russia has confirmed that it will attend next month’s NATO summit with high expectations to reach a compromise over a Europe-wide missile defense shield. President Dmitry Medvedev had expressed doubts concerning Russia’s participation at the summit. Medvedev in a Reuters report said Russia was opened to cooperation.
“We are now evaluating the idea of this proposal, but I think that NATO itself needs to understand in what form it sees Russia joining this system, what it will bring, in what manner an agreement can be reached, and how to proceed further,” he said.
Analysts say that Russia needs a solid partner at a time when it faces stiff competition in the east from a rising China.
But others think that Russia has apparently no role to play in NATO. “The Lisbon NATO meeting next month will set future policy in which Russia will not play a role,” Robert Marquand wrote in his article, Facing a rising China, Russia looks to boost Europe ties, which featured in the Christian Science Monitor.
Marquand however, could be misled. If one recalls the recent productive meeting between the leaders of Russia and China. Countries are in many ways like companies. They do compete. But all the managers know that in today’s globalized world, cooperation can be much more fruitful than rivalry. Russia sees China not as a threat, but as a partner.
Russia’s participation in the November NATO summit indicates that it is time to reconsider the idea of European security. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy are trying to establish relations with Russia, believing that European security is no longer an issue of NATO or the EU only. From the steps taken by the United States it’s clear that they are now less interested in internal security in Europe.
In the meantime, the NATO summit which will bring together 28 countries runs from November 19 to 20, and will unveil a new strategic plan for the organization.
The document will reconfirm NATO’s core task of defending its territory and its commitment to collective defense, while at the same time mandating the alliance to conduct operations elsewhere in the world — such as its current mission in Afghanistan. But NATO also needs to come up with a new plan for its development. The recent global financial crisis had an impact on the alliance too.
According to a 2006 report by the Washington Post report, America’s major NATO allies decided to cut military manpower and defense funds as a share of their economies since the September 11 attacks, in sharp contrast with the United States, which embarked on deficit spending to boost arms outlays to fight global terrorists. A comparison of force structures in 2001 and 2005 showed countries such as Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Germany cut their active-duty forces, according to statistics compiled by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. At the same time, the United States increased its ranks from 1.37 million to 1.42 million.
In a recent interview with The Times, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Secretary General of NATO, advised all cash-strapped NATO members to use the tough economic climate as an opportunity to make their armed forces more efficient to tackle the unpredictable nature of modern warfare. “All governments are faced with budgetary constraints,” said Rasmussen, who is also a former Danish Prime Minister.
Moreover, NATO also needs to present some results of their actions in Afghanistan, as the ineffectiveness of its policies in the country made people question NATO’s relevance in the post-Cold War era. The Participation of the United States in the alliance was the key point of the North Atlantic Treaty agreement as it was considered the only power that was able to counter the military power of the USSR. But nowadays the U.S. is increasingly looking across the Pacific rather than at Russia.