portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

imperialism & war

Way to Go, NATO!

France, Belgium Block NATO Military Aid for Turkey
By Paul Ames
The Associated Press
Monday, February 10, 2003; 4:05 AM

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50304-2003Feb10.html

France and Belgium on Monday blocked the start of NATO military planning to protect Turkey against the threat of an Iraqi missile attack, further deepening divisions in the alliance over the Iraq crisis.

NATO officials said France formally blocked the move an hour before alliance procedures would have automatically started the military planning at 4 a.m. EST. As expected, Belgium backed the French move.

The French and Belgian foreign ministers held a telephone conference early Monday and said they still opposed the automatic start of military planning.

"They had their talks and they will continue to block," said Belgian government spokesman Didier Seeuws of the talks between his foreign minister Louis Michel and his French counterpart Dominique de Villepin.

The French decision was a blow to the United States which has lobbied hard for more than three weeks for the alliance to start the military planning, backed by 16 of the 19 NATO allies.

On Sunday, Michel had said it was too early for the alliance to take such decisions.

"It would signify that we have already entered into the logic of war, that ... any chance, any initiative to still resolve the conflict in a peaceful way was gone," Michel said.

It was unclear if Germany, which had previously backed French and Belgian hesitation, also supported the latest delay of the planning to send surveillance planes, anti-missile batteries and units specialized in dealing with germ warfare and poison gas attacks to Turkey.

Faced with the latest delay, Turkey was widely expected to call for urgent consultations under NATO's mutual defense treaty. A meeting of NATO's policy making North Atlantic Council was scheduled for 4:30 EST ...........................................................................................................................................................
As well as trans-Atlantic differences, the deadlock has highlighted deep divisions among European allies. The majority, led by Britain, Spain and Italy, is backing the tough line against Iraq taken by the United States and has been opposed by France and Germany.

NATO's military commanders say the planning for the limited support for Turkey can be wrapped up within a few days once they get the go-ahead, but actual deployment of the NATO units will need further approval from the 19 allies.

All NATO decisions require unanimous support from the allies.

2003 The Associated Press