Friday, September 29, 2006

NATO Urges De-escalation

Via Monsters and Critics:

Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports on the final day of talks between NATO defence chiefs in Portoroz, Slovenia, at which concern was expressed at heightened tensions between Russia and Georgia, and included a plea by NATO head Jaap de Hoop Scheffer for an increase in defence spending on the part of NATO countries:

The 26 ministers, meeting in the Slovenian coastal resort of Portoroz, also reviewed progress in plans to modernize NATO armies and the setting up of a NATO Response Force (NRF) for quick deployment on peacekeeping and counter-terror operations worldwide.

NATO's so-called 'transformation' from an anti-Soviet Cold War military alliance into a modern fighting machine will top the agenda at a summit in Riga at the end of November.

The second day of talks in Portoroz, which included a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, was dominated by worsening tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi.

As NATO chief Scheffer urged both Russia and Georgia to 'moderate and de-escalate' tensions, Ivanov accused Tbilisi of seeking a military solution to end frozen conflicts in its breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Ivanov also said several new members of NATO were fuelling current tensions by supplying Soviet-bought arms to the Georgian government.

Long-standing strains in relations between Russia and Georgia have been further inflamed in recent days after Georgia brought espionage charges against four detained military officers from Russia.

'The situation has deteriorated...we see it with concern,' German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung told reporters, adding that it was important that both sides resolved their dispute in a peaceful manner.

Meanwhile, reports that the Georgian embassy in Moscow has been placed under round-the-clock guard by police and OMON troops after extreme Russian nationalist demonstrators from the anti-American and anti-NATO Eurasian Youth Alliance smashed a windowpane and threw a pig's head into the building.
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