NATO Seeks to Ease War Impact 11/30 06:22
BUCHAREST (AP) -- NATO turned its attention on Wednesday to three countries
shaken by Russia's invasion of Ukraine -- Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova -- as the
military alliance struggles to extend its security umbrella across Europe.
At talks in Romania, the foreign ministers of the three countries met with
their NATO counterparts to discuss ways that the world's biggest security
organization might be able to help, as the war in Ukraine exposes them to
political, energy and territorial uncertainty.
While the cause of the problems facing Bosnia, Georgia, and Moldova is
clear, their needs and the way that NATO might be able to help them are not. No
straightforward proposals about what might be done were offered by NATO
ministers as they arrived at the Palace of the Parliament in the capital
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said the meeting is aimed at ensuring
"more safety and security on the European continent," and "is a signal ... on
how important it is to create stability not only for NATO countries itself, but
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky told reporters that it was important not
to let a "gray zone be here, to be taken over by other forces."
Bosnia has long been wracked by political instability, but protests rocked
the Bosnian Serb half of the ethnically divided country last month after some
voters alleged that a pro-Russian Bosnian Serb leader rigged an election in the
Serb entity, Republika Srpska.
Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic said her country, where a
government is in the process of being formed following the elections, "is very
concerned about the future."
"We have proxies, or we had the proxies, in our government, Russian proxies.
So division in the country is deep and we hope that we will be able to overcome
it. NATO's presence is extremely important for Bosnia-Herzegovina because it is
a guarantor of our security," she said.
NATO has promised Georgia that, like Ukraine, it will join the 30-nation
alliance one day, but Russian troops swept into Georgia after that pledge was
made 14 years ago. A breakaway Georgian region has this year threatened to hold
a referendum on joining Russia.
Russia's war in Ukraine has had a troubling effect on Moldova, which is
currently facing a severe energy crisis due to its reliance on Russian energy.
In recent weeks it has suffered massive power outages as a result of Russian
strikes on Ukraine's energy grid. Russian missiles have also traversed its
skies, and in April blasts occurred in the country's Russian-backed breakaway
region of Transnistria -- where Moscow bases around 1,500 troops.
Things are moving more positively in other parts of Europe. Swedish Foreign
Minister Tobias Billstrom said that he and his counterparts from Finland and
Turkey had held "a very good" meeting aimed at unblocking Turkish opposition to
his country joining NATO.
Billstrom said that he plans to travel to Ankara soon for further talks.
NATO is eager to add the two Nordic nations to its ranks. They applied to join
in April, amid concern that Russia might target them next. Turkey and Hungary
are the holdouts on ratifying their applications. The 28 other member nations
have already done so.