Stop NATO News: March 25, 2012

25 March 2012 – Stop NATO

  • Ottawa: First Joint Meeting Of U.S., Canadian, Mexican Defense Leaders
  • Clinton Approves $1.3 Billion In Military Aid To Egyptian Junta
  • Three NATO Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan
  • Italian Soldier Killed, Five Injured In Afghanistan
  • NATO Helicopter Violates Pakistani Air Space
  • U.S. Ambassador-Designate: Georgia To Join NATO, U.S. To Upgrade Military
  • U.S. Marine Corps Commander Meets Georgian Military Chief, Troops
  • Eastern Partnership: Georgia Pushes “International Community” To Expel Russian Troops From Abkhazia And South Ossetia
  • Abkhazia Concerned Over Georgia Creating New Paramilitary Groups
  • French Defense Delegation Visits Georgia, Azerbaijan
  • Azerbaijan Doubled Military Production Last Year
  • NATO MPs In Qatar “Discuss Regional Security”
  • Turkey To Host “Friends Of Syria” Meeting
  • Syria: Armenians Fear Results Of Regime Change
  • EU Foreign Ministers Slap More Sanctions On Belarus, Iran, Syria And Extend Horn Of Africa Naval Deployment

Ottawa: First Joint Meeting Of U.S., Canadian, Mexican Defense Leaders

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=67653

U.S. Department of Defense American Forces Press Service March 22, 2012

Panetta to Travel to Canada for Defense Meetings

WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta will travel to Canada’s capital of Ottawa on March 26 for meetings with Canadian and Mexican defense officials, Pentagon officials said.

Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay will host the meeting, which includes Mexican defense leaders for the first time.

Mexico’s Defense Secretary Gen. Guillermo Galvan and Navy Secretary Adm. Mariano Francisco Saynaz will attend, and all will discuss continental defense initiatives, said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.

These issues include counternarcotics cooperation, support to humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations and trilateral support for North and South America’s defense institutions, Little said.

Panetta will hold bilateral meetings with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts, then leaders from all three countries will meet for the first Trilateral Meetings of North American Defense Ministers.

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Clinton Approves $1.3 Billion In Military Aid To Egyptian Junta

http://en.trend.az/regions/met/arabicr/2006382.html

Deutsche Presse-Agentur March 24, 2012

US approves 1.3 billion dollars military aid to Egypt

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday gave the green light to US military aid to Egypt despite concerns that Cairo was not meeting goals in its democratic transition, dpa reported.

Clinton waived conditions placed on the 1.3-billion-dollars of aid by Congress – that had insisted Egypt meet certain democratic reforms before being granted the funds – saying the move was in the United States’ national interest.

“These decisions reflect America’s over-arching goal: to maintain our strategic partnership with an Egypt made stronger and more stable by a successful transition to democracy,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

Nuland pointing to progress made in elections, but said the US remained concerned about protection for non-governmental organizations and other issues.

“Egypt’s transition to democracy is not yet complete, and more work remains to protect universal rights and freedoms. The Egyptian people themselves have made this clear to their own leaders,” she said.

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Three NATO Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2012/03/24/3-nato-troops-killed-in-afghanistan-3/

Voice of America News March 24, 2012

3 NATO Troops Killed in Afghanistan

NATO says three of its service members lost their lives in Afghanistan Saturday.

A NATO statement says one of the soldiers died in a bomb blast in southern Afghanistan, another one in an insurgent attack in the west, and the third one as a result of a non-battle related injury in the east.

The nationalities of the soldiers were not released.

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Italian Soldier Killed, Five Injured In Afghanistan

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-03/25/c_131487347.htm

Xinhua News Agency March 25, 2012

One Italian soldier killed, 5 injured in Afghanistan

-Rome has deployed 4,200 forces to Afghanistan as part of the military alliance, and has lost a total number of 49 soldiers in the country since 2004.

ROME: Italy’s Defense Minister said on Saturday one Italian soldier with the NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed, and five others were injured from a terrorist attack in Afghanistan.

Michele Silvestri, a 33 year-old military who was married with a child, reportedly died due to mortar fire from Taliban fighters at a base in Gulistan district of western Afghan Farah province.

Five wounded soldiers were transported by helicopter to a military field hospital, the ANSA news agency said.

Rome has deployed 4,200 forces to Afghanistan as part of the military alliance, and has lost a total number of 49 soldiers in the country since 2004.

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NATO Helicopter Violates Pakistani Air Space

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/03/25/news/national/nato-chopper-intrudes-into-khyber-agency-2/

Independent News Pakistan March 25, 2012

NATO chopper intrudes into Khyber Agency

BARA: A NATO helicopter once again violated Pakistani airspace in the Khyber Agency near border with Afghanistan on Saturday, creating panic in the area.

Sources said the helicopter entered from the Torkham side, and remained in the Pakistani airspace for 10 minutes before returning to Afghanistan.

The low-flying chopper created panic among the tribesmen living along the Pak-Afghan border.

This latest violation of Pakistani airspace by NATO forces comes a couple of days after a parliamentary committee, tasked to prepare recommendations to review terms of engagements with the US, put its recommendations before the joint sitting of the parliament.

Pakistan stopped supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan after NATO/ISAF aircraft attacked Pakistani border posts at Salala in the Mohmand Agency in the last week of November, 2011, and killed 24 troops. The parliamentary committee has demanded a US apology over the incident as a precondition to revive engagement in the war on terror.

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U.S. Ambassador-Designate: Georgia To Join NATO, U.S. To Upgrade Military

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24584

Civil Georgia March 22, 2012

U.S. Ambassador-Designate to Georgia Lays Out Priorities

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He stressed the importance of Georgia’s contribution to Afghan operations, where “brave” Georgian soldiers operate without caveats in the Helmand province, noting that Georgia would become the largest non-NATO contributor to ISAF after it deploys an additional battalion in Afghanistan this fall.

Responding to Republican Senator Richard Lugar’s question about Georgia’s NATO integration, the Ambassador-designate said that the Alliance had already declared that Georgia would become a NATO member.

On defense cooperation, the U.S. ambassador-designate said that talks between President Obama and President Saakashvili in the White House in January gave “important impetus” to military relationships and said that the U.S. had approved sale of M4 Carbine assault rifles to Georgia.

He said that during a meeting in Washington the U.S. and Georgian Presidents “agreed to enhance these programs, to advance Georgian military modernization reform and self-defense capabilities.”

“Our plans for security assistance and military engagement with Georgia are to support Georgia’s defense reforms, to train and equip Georgian troops for participation in the ISAF mission and to advance Georgia’s NATO interoperability.”

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Tbilisi: U.S. Ambassador-designate to Georgia, Richard Norland, outlined priority areas of U.S. cooperation with its “reliable partner”, Georgia, during a nomination hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 21, saying that upcoming elections would be “a very important litmus test” for Georgia’s NATO aspiration.

He said that Georgia had demonstrated itself to be “a reliable partner” on issues like Afghanistan, non-proliferation and trade.

“Of paramount importance, I want to emphasize the United States’ commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty remains steadfast,” he said. “The United States will continue efforts to persuade Russia to fulfill its 2008 ceasefire obligations…”

“We continue to object to the presence of the Russian troops in the occupied territories and we strongly support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; these are matters of principle,” he said, adding that the U.S. will continue to be actively engaged in the Geneva talks.

He said that relationship between Georgia’s democratic reforms and its Euro-Atlantic integration was “pivotal”.

“Given Georgia’s interests and Georgia’s aspirations to NATO membership and our support for those aspirations, how these elections are conducted is a very important litmus test and we’ll be watching carefully to make sure that the way these elections unfold are in keeping in NATO standards.”

“The Europe and the United States are closely watching the conduct of these elections to determine whether they meet the criteria that are expected of a NATO-member country,” Norland said.

NATO Integration

He reiterated U.S. support to Georgia’s NATO aspirations and said that the Alliance’s upcoming summit in Chicago would provide an opportunity “to highlight Georgia’s progress towards meeting membership criteria, as well as its significant partnership contributions.”

He stressed the importance of Georgia’s contribution to Afghan operations, where “brave” Georgian soldiers operate without caveats in the Helmand province, noting that Georgia would become the largest non-NATO contributor to ISAF after it deploys an additional battalion in Afghanistan this fall.

Responding to Republican Senator Richard Lugar’s question about Georgia’s NATO integration, the Ambassador-designate said that the Alliance had already declared that Georgia would become a NATO member.

“So the issue really has to do [with] how and when,” Norland said. “There is no single path to NATO membership. As it stands now, I understand, the Annual National Program and the NATO-Georgia [Commission] are the primary mechanisms to which Georgia and the Allies are pursuing the issue of Georgia’s membership.”

He said that “serious efforts” were being undertaken by the U.S. administration to use the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago “to signal acknowledgment for Georgia’s progress…and to work with the Allies to develop a consensus on the next steps forward.”

Defense Cooperation

On defense cooperation, the U.S. ambassador-designate said that talks between President Obama and President Saakashvili in the White House in January gave “important impetus” to military relationships and said that the U.S. had approved sale of M4 Carbine assault rifles to Georgia.

He said that during a meeting in Washington the U.S. and Georgian Presidents “agreed to enhance these programs, to advance Georgian military modernization reform and self-defense capabilities.”

“Sustaining robust bilateral security and defense cooperation with Georgia will also remain a high priority if I am confirmed,” he said.

“Our plans for security assistance and military engagement with Georgia are to support Georgia’s defense reforms, to train and equip Georgian troops for participation in the ISAF mission and to advance Georgia’s NATO interoperability.”

Richard Norland, who is a former U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan, was nominated by President Obama in February to replace John Bass, who has been serving in Tbilisi since late 2009.

Norland, a 32-year foreign service veteran, briefly served in Georgia in early 1990s in a capacity of the U.S. representative and acting head of the OSCE Mission to Georgia, working on South Ossetia and Abkhazia conflict issues.

Before serving as an ambassador in Uzbekistan in 2007-2010, Norland, who is now international affairs advisor and deputy commandant at the National War College, Washington, D.C., was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Kabul for two years.

According to the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Norland has spent much of his career on U.S. relations with Russia and other former Soviet states. He was a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in late 1980s.

He was director for European affairs at the National Security Council for two years during the Clinton and Bush administrations and served as deputy chief of mission in Latvia in 2003-2005.

Ambassador Norland, who speaks Russian, French, Norwegian and Latvian, was a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin in 1995-1998.

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U.S. Marine Corps Commander Meets Georgian Military Chief, Troops

http://www.mod.gov.ge/index.php?page=77&lang=1&type=&Id=1341

Ministry of Defence of Georgia March 23, 2012

The visit of American Commander

Lieutenant General Dennis Hejlik, commander of United States Marine Corps Forces Command ]Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic; Commander, United States Marine Corps Bases Atlantic; Commander, United States Marine Corps Forces Europe] is paying an official two-day visit to Georgia.

Today the US Lieutenant General has met with Deputy Defence Minister Nodar Kharshiladze and Chief of the Joint Staff of the GAF [Georgian Armed Forces] Major-General Devi Chankotadze.

Throughout the meeting the topics of discussion included the GAF`s participation in the ISAF mission, their level of preparedness and achievements and the US-Georgia partnership.

At the meeting the Lieutenant General expressed his appreciation for Georgia’s contribution to the security mission.

Dennis Hejlik also met with and delivered a speech for 23 Battalion military personnel and Georgian instructors at the National Training Center “Krtsanisi”. He referred to the significance of the ISAF mission and the GAF`s participation in it. The 23 Battalion is going through preparation for participation in the NATO-led ISAF operation in Afghanistan.

The Georgian military servicemen will engage in the peacekeeping operation in the province of Helmand as part of the US contingent and replace 31 Battalion currently deployed there. Commander of United States Marine Corps Forces Lieutenant General Dennis Hejlik will leave Georgia on March 24.

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Eastern Partnership: Georgia Pushes “International Community” To Expel Russian Troops From Abkhazia And South Ossetia

http://en.trend.az/regions/scaucasus/georgia/2006249.html

Trend News Agency March 23, 2012

Georgia urges Int’l community to strengthen pressure on Russia N. Kirtzkhalia

Eastern Partnership: The West’s Final Assault On the Former Soviet Union

Tbilisi: Georgia’s Vice-Premier Georgi Baramidze urged the international community to strengthen pressure on Russia, according to his Friday message to the “Eastern Partnership” participants.

Tbilisi is hosting the EUEastern Partnership” forum, which started on Friday in Georgia under the auspices of the State Minister for European Integration and the Polish Institute for the Study of the East.

The forum is being attended by representatives of legislative and executive authorities of the Member States and the countries of “Eastern Partnership” (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Ukraine), as well as NGOs, international media, business community and independent experts.

Baramidze…underscored that Russia must fulfill the commitments made after the Georgian-Russian war, and withdraw its forces from all Georgian territory.

“The international community must play an important role in this, and it should force Russia to begin the process of de-occupation peacefully”.

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Abkhazia Concerned Over Georgia Creating New Paramilitary Groups

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24588

Civil Georgia March 23, 2012

Sokhumi Says ‘Concerned over Allegations on Paramilitary Groups’

Tbilisi: Seizing upon allegations voiced by opposition figure Irakli Alasania, who has accused Georgian authorities of setting up paramilitary groups, the foreign ministry of breakaway Abkhazia said on March 23, that Tbilisi was “continuing a policy of terror and intimidation.”

“The Abkhaz side expresses deep concern in connection to media reports about statements of one of the Georgian opposition leaders, Irakli Alasania, who has accused the Georgian leadership of creating illegal militia groups, deployed in the immediate vicinity of the Abkhaz border” in the Samegrelo region, the breakaway region’s foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

“The setting up of such armed groups confirms the persisting aspiration of the Georgian leadership to continue its policy of terror and intimidation both within Georgia itself and in the bordering Gali district of Abkhazia. Undoubtedly, actions by these armed groups will contribute to the further aggravation of the situation in the region,” it said.

It has also claimed that a “significantly increased number” of security-related incidents in the Gali district was a result of Tbilisi “using illegal armed groups for aggravating tensions.”

The breakaway region’s foreign ministry also called on participants of the Geneva talks, as well as the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia, “to take necessary measures to prevent the escalation of tensions in the border areas.”

Irakli Alasania, one of the leaders of Bidzina Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition said on March 20 that he was sending evidence supporting his allegations about authorities setting up paramilitary groups to the National Security Council for review and reaction. He also said that the evidence involved “full information about places of location of the paramilitary groups, about their members, about armament and finances.”

Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, said on March 23, that Alasania’s allegation was “schizophrenic delirium.”

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French Defense Delegation Visits Georgia, Azerbaijan

http://www.mod.gov.ge/index.php?page=77&lang=1&type=&Id=1342

Ministry of Defence of Georgia March 24, 2012

The visit of French delegation

Deputy Defence Minister Nodar Kharshiladze has received a delegation from the French National Defence Institute composed of 37 attendees today.

Throughout the meeting held at the MoD the sides discussed reforms implemented in the defence and security spheres, Georgia’s NATO integration prospects, involvement in the ISAF mission and regional security issues.

Within the visit the French delegation visited the National Defence Academy in Gori.

At the meeting, attended by Command and General Staff School representatives, Academy Rector Andro Barnovi briefed [the guests] on the military education system. The sides also focused on cooperation perspectives in the education field.

As part of the visit, French students inspected the Krtsanisi National Training Center to take a view of the training process of 23rd Infantry Battalion personnel of the II Infantry Brigade getting ready for participation in the ISAF mission.

The goal of the French delegation’s visit in Georgia is become familiar with the military-political environment prevailing in the South Caucasus region.

During their stay in Georgia, French attendees met with Deputy Foreign Minister Tornike Gordadze and Deputy Secretary of National Security Council Batu Kutelia. The delegation was also hosted by representatives of Foreign Relations, European Integration and Defence and Security Committees in the Parliament of Georgia.

The French delegation will leave for Azerbaijan tomorrow.

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Azerbaijan Doubled Military Production Last Year

http://www.news.az/articles/economy/56755

News.Az March 16, 2012

Azerbaijan doubled production of military industrial complex – speaker

The economy of Azerbaijan continued to increase in 2011 in terms of the global economic crisis.

Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament Ogtay Asadov made the statement to a session on the report of the Azerbaijani government for 2011.

….

‘Given the state of war, the country holds the development of the defence sector as the center of attention. In comparison with 2010, the country doubled the production of the military industry complex in 2011. In 2011, 1.7 times more financial funds were allocated to all of this against 2010,’ the speaker said.

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NATO MPs In Qatar “Discuss Regional Security”

http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=494902&version=1&template_id=36&parent_id=16

Gulf Times March 24, 201

Nato parliamentarians discuss regional security

-David Crausby, a Nato Parliamentarian from the United Kingdom, wanted to understand the effect of a potential US or Israeli strike on Iran. Salman Shaikh of Brookings Doha posited that the threshold for US intervention has always been the acquisition of a nuclear weapon by Iran. This threshold, he continued, has shifted to the capability side, increasingly resembling the Israeli stance.

Nato Parliamentarians from 13 member-states convened in Doha for a three-day briefing on Security and Stability in the Gulf Region organised by Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q).

Representing countries including Portugal, Germany and Norway, among others, the Nato Parliamentarians were privy to a nearly two-hour question and answer session featuring SFS-Q subject matter experts (SMEs) Amira A. Sonbol, Gary B. Wasserman, Mark Farha, Birol Baskan and colleagues from Brookings Doha, Director Salman Shaikh, and the Royal United Services Institute in Qatar (RUSIQ), Deputy Director David Roberts.

Tackling the topic of security and stability in the Gulf region, Salman Shaikh began by stating that Gulf monarchies have deflected the Arab Spring through massive social spending. He questioned the sustainability of this approach, arguing that the viability of the current social contract in the Gulf is in need of urgent modernisation.

The ramifications of increased energy exports to India and China for the security of the Gulf region was considered by many members of the Q&A session, with a consensus that there is a shift in strategic focus, from the point of view of the United States, away from the Middle East and towards the Far East.

David Crausby, a Nato Parliamentarian from the United Kingdom, wanted to understand the effect of a potential US or Israeli strike on Iran.

Salman Shaikh of Brookings Doha posited that the threshold for US intervention has always been the acquisition of a nuclear weapon by Iran.

This threshold, he continued, has shifted to the capability side, increasingly resembling the Israeli stance.

Such a move, according to Shaikh, could spark a wide regional conflict and inflict severe economic consequences.

..

José Lello, a Nato Parliamentarian from Portugal inquired into Qatar’s provisional plans for the closing of the Strait of Hormuz and the rationale behind the escalatory rhetoric emerging from the region. In response, Farha warned that loose talk of war could open the door for provocations and secret covert operations.

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Turkey To Host “Friends Of Syria” Meeting

http://en.trend.az/regions/met/arabicr/2006165.html

Trend News Agency March 23, 2012

Syria opposition to prepare for ‘Friends of Syria’ meeting

Various factions of the Syrian opposition will meet early next week in Istanbul to coordinate their requests for support prior to the second conference of “Friends of Syria” on 1 April, Ahram Online reported.

“The goal is to prepare for the conference of ‘Friends of Syria’,” Halit Hoca, a member of the main opponent group Syrian National Council, told AFP Thursday.

He also said that the gathering was likely to be closed to the press.

The meeting of the Syrian opposition comes amid difficulties in forming a united front, with the resignation on 14 March of three members from the SNC, followed by the creation of a new coalition of five small opposition groups three days later.

The first meeting of the “Friends of Syria” was held in Tunis in late February, with participation from around 60 countries, including Western and Arab nations.

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Syria: Armenians Fear Results Of Regime Change

http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/100234/

PanArmenian.net March 24, 2012

Expert: Assad’s regime preferable for Armenians

The maintenance of current President Bashar al-Assad’s power is preferable for the Armenian community in Syria, according to the Arabist Armen Petrsoyan.

“From the political perspective, Assad’s regime is preferable to that of the Muslim Brotherhood with uncertain prospects through Turkish backing,” he said.

The expert further voiced hope for the Syrian authorities to control the situation and avert development of a dangerous political scenario.

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EU Foreign Ministers Slap More Sanctions On Belarus, Iran, Syria And Extend Horn Of Africa Naval Deployment

http://en.trend.az/regions/iran/2006307.html

Deutsche Presse-Agentur March 23, 2012

EU foreign ministers to slap more sanctions on Syria, Belarus, Iran

European Union foreign ministers were set Friday to approve more sanctions against Syria, Belarus and Iran, and expand an anti-piracy mission in Somalia, dpa reported.

[The] ministers were expected to add 12 [Syrian] officials and 2 companies to an EU visa ban and asset freeze list, EU diplomats said.

“Today you will see significant tightening of the sanctions. We have 12 names on the table,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told journalists before the meeting.

Similar sanctions were planned against 29 Belarus companies and 12 businessmen backing President Aleksandr Lukashenko…sources added.

Ministers were also expected to discuss whether EU ambassadors – withdrawn from Minsk last month in a diplomatic tit-for-tat – should return to the country.

On Iran, EU governments were finalizing regulations putting into practice an earlier decision to apply an oil embargo against the country, effective from July 1…

On Friday, ministers were also expected to tighten a parallel set of EU sanctions on Iran linked to the country’s human rights violations, several diplomats said.

Eighteen more officials will be added to an existing travel ban and asset freeze list, currently covering 61 persons, while a ban will be introduced on exports of electronic material that may be used to intercept telephone and internet communications.

On Somalia, ministers were set to approve the idea of expanding the anti-piracy mission Atalanta in the Gulf of Aden…The move was discussed Thursday by EU defence ministers.

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Posted 25th March 2012 by InI in category NATO

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