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Wall Street On Line 03/28/2008

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Hellenic Electronic Center (HEC)
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The March 28 op-ed by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrogantly misstates the position put forward by Greece against Skopje's candidacy in NATO. This former Yugoslav Republic has taken it upon itself to claim the name, history, and territory that belongs to Greece. Macedonia is a Greek Province that was liberated from the Ottoman Empire through great suffering and hardships during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. Communist Yugoslavia sought to annex Macedonia from Greece by helping to fuel the Communist insurgency against Greece during the late 1940's.
Skopje has claimed that Alexander the Great was a Slav, and has participated in the outright theft of Greek Macedonian symbols such as the Sun of Vergina. Elements in Skopje have distributed maps depicting the Greek province of Macedonia as being part of its own borders. Most recently, this littler Republic named its airport after Alexander the Great, an unacceptable provocation. Macedonia is culturally, historically, and geographically a part of Hellenism as it has been for over 3,000 years.
Greece is not going to abandon its historical and cultural identity in order to appease Mr. Rumsfeld and others who hold significant biases against Greece. NATO is theoretically obligated to defend member States against external aggression. Failure of NATO to support Greece unequivocally against the unacceptable claims put forward by Skopje affirms how inherently ungrateful the Western alliance is for the past contributions of Greeks in the struggles against Nazism and Communism. Greek blood was shed during the First and Second World Wars on behalf of the Western alliance, and then again in the fight against Communism. The position taken by Mr. Rumsfeld displays grotesque ignorance and lack of historical knowledge pertaining to the affairs of Greece and the Balkan Peninsula.

Theodore G. Karakostas This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Member of HEC Executive Council
www.greece.org

NATO Expansion Should Continue

Wall Street Online

By DONALD RUMSFELD
March 28, 2008; Page A13

Next week Romania's capital of Bucharest will host representatives from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 26 member nations. There the alliance will make critical choices about its mission in Afghanistan and expanding to several former Soviet-bloc nations. These decisions need not and should not be further delayed for yet more "meetings" and "consultations" in capitals across Europe.

Today NATO needs clarity of purpose. A display of timidity in Bucharest could derail its recent progress in adjusting to the demands of the still new 21st century. Moving decisively beyond NATO's traditional mindset is a strategic imperative if the alliance is to remain relevant to the challenges it is likely to face.

[NATO Expansion Should Continue]
David Klein

There is no better way for NATO to move forward than by extending full membership invitations to Albania, Croatia and Macedonia and by beginning the process to bring Georgia and Ukraine into the alliance in the future through membership action plans (MAPs). At a time when European commitments to the NATO mission in Afghanistan are being questioned, the determination of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia to contribute to tough missions is clear. Collectively, the three Balkan nations have more than 650 troops currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At the moment Croatia has more than 200 troops training the Afghan National Army and serving in Provincial Reconstruction Teams. A company of Macedonian troops leads the mission of defending NATO's International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. In addition to its continuous troop presence in Afghanistan since 2002, Albania was among the first nations to deploy to Iraq in 2003. Five years later, Albania intends to be among the last to leave. As the Albanian military commander in Mosul, Iraq, recently said, "We'll be here as long as the Americans are."

As was the case with NATO invitations to other former Soviet-bloc nations in 1999 and 2004, this year's expansion would consolidate democratic and economic gains in Southeast Europe. The region's trajectory toward free political institutions and free markets is unmistakable.

For the past several years under membership action plans, the governments of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia have been preparing to join the ranks of NATO. They now meet the necessary criteria for membership. They have shown their commitment to human rights and regional stability by protecting the rights of ethnic minorities. They have allocated a greater percentage of their GDP to defense expenditures than most NATO countries in Western Europe, and they have built sound defense capabilities in intelligence, medical support, and special operations.

Perhaps most important in light of NATO's demonstrated shortcomings, Albania, Croatia and Macedonia have made use of those capabilities in Afghanistan and Iraq by taking on the tough missions that several current NATO members have been unwilling to carry out. Albania, Croatia and Macedonia are certainly not large geographically, but the operational -- and attitudinal -- contributions they bring to NATO will far outstrip their size.

With respect to Georgia and Ukraine, both nations are democratic, politically mature, relatively stable and committed to the international community after the Orange and Rose revolutions in 2003 and 2004. Neighboring Russia recently suggested it might turn its nuclear arsenal on Ukraine or incite civil disorder in Georgia if either takes steps to join NATO. Undeterred, the Georgian and Ukrainian governments have expressed their clear desire to initiate membership action plan proceedings.

Silence on the issue of Georgia and Ukraine in Bucharest -- including postponement of MAPs, as some Western European governments seem to be suggesting -- would amount to a rejection of Georgia's and Ukraine's international aspirations. It would prove disillusioning to their people, and it would serve as a green light to Russia to continue the tired rhetoric of the Cold War.

The administration, bipartisan majorities in Congress, and most members of NATO have expressed support for extending membership to nations in Southeastern Europe and for partnerships with those nations beyond. Why then the hold up? Aside from Russia's opposition, Greece has threatened to issue a sole veto over Macedonia's entry because Macedonia refuses to change its country name. The future of the trans-Atlantic alliance -- and its credibility as the pre-eminent political and military instrument of the world's democracies -- are too important to be constrained by narrow disputes over semantics or to intimidation tactics more befitting the last century.

A larger, reinvigorated alliance, with three new members and two potential members, would augment NATO with countries that have a proven track record of not only recognizing today's challenges but also of consistently contributing to the alliance's efforts to promote and protect its interests. Expansion would bring operational expertise and a spirit of cooperation to an alliance in need of both. All five nations would also bring to NATO an appreciation for the vigilance required to defend liberty. With their peoples' first hand experience of Communist occupation, they see in Islamic extremism the dangers of an all too familiar totalitarian ideology.

NATO's mission in Afghanistan, thousands of miles from the European continent, has been an historic step toward transforming NATO to meet new challenges of the 21st century. But its work there has laid bare some hard truths about the state of the alliance.

Restrictive national caveats imposed by some member nations currently prevent their contingents from engaging in combat, causing other NATO and non-NATO members of the coalition -- such as those being considered for membership currently -- to carry a disproportionate burden of the alliance's work and sacrifice. Outdated rules of engagement, uneven national commitments, and a lack of sufficient urgency among several of its members are indisputable facts. And so too are the possibilities of failure and creeping irrelevance if NATO does not act wisely in Bucharest.

Expanding NATO to Albania, Croatia and Macedonia and building closer partnerships with Georgia and Ukraine would help to assuage any concerns that the alliance no longer has the collective grit for the tough work necessary to overcome the challenges in Afghanistan. All five non-NATO nations currently under consideration -- in contrast with several full NATO members -- have demonstrated willingness to accept NATO responsibilities.

Albania, Croatia and Macedonia are today ready to accept those responsibilities. Georgia and Ukraine will likely be ready to accept NATO responsibilities in the coming years if issued membership action plans next week. The Bucharest summit presents an opportunity to advance the interests of all 26 member nations by expanding the NATO alliance. Now is not a time for self-doubt. It is a time for U.S. and European leadership.

Mr. Rumsfeld was U.S. ambassador to NATO from 1973 to 1974 and was the 13th and 21st U.S. secretary of Defense.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

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