By Karolos Gadis
former Greek Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina
and Deputy-Ambassador in Ankara and Washington D.C.
An Open Letter to NATO’s Secretary General
from a Citizen within NATO Alliance…
Honorable Secretary General,
I would like first to recognize the exceptionally difficult and subtle character of your high tasks as NATO Secretary General and, pay tribute to your tireless initiatives and endeavors to achieve the best feasible results in every case.
That’s why, I don’t speak today as a former Diplomat, nor as an academic political analyst but only as a “Citizen within NATO’s Alliance”.
In this context, political observers believe that today, in addition to NATO’s external threats, there are some discrepancies within NATO, which minimize its “net result”.
One of them is the recent culmination of UK – Spain dispute over Gibraltar, which led, April 2017, Michael Howard, former Conservative Party Leader (2003-2005), after praising Margaret Thatcher’s military intervention in Falklands islands, 1982, to state that “I am absolutely certain that our current Prime Minister would show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar”.
In early September 2017, a NATO’s country Ambassador stated that “Turkey did not informed NATO on the S-400 missiles purchase”, adding that “It is puzzling from a NATO perspective that this ally wants to develop offensive missile capabilities.
In November 2017, Erdogan’s chief Counselor Yalcin Topcu advanced publicly the idea that “Turkey must review its participation to NATO”.
Political analysts criticize Turkey’s operations in Afrin despite U.S. warning.
Among other statements, Deputy Prime Minister’s Bekir Bozdag one, “Although my government wants to avoid confrontation, U.S. should warn its cooperatives in the field not to face off with Turkey!” is the political confirmation of an intra-NATO members confrontation in deployment, never seen before!
I read in the Press, Honorable Secretary General, that during your recent visit in Turkey you stated, inter alia, that “…..I expect that the differences we see on some issues are solved between Turkey and Greece in the spirit of good relations. It’s not an issue for NATO, this is something that has to be addressed between Turkey and Greece”.
Nevertheless, the most important in this context, is to be crystal clear that this case is not a “dispute”, nor a “difference”, between two NATO members, but a permanent vivid Turkish threat, a chronicle of an “armed attack foretold”!
U.S. Ambassador in Athens Geoffrey Pyatt was crystal clear: “He is in fact afraid of an ‘accident’ or, a provoked conflict”.
Nowhere in article 5, nor in the whole text of Washington Treaty, is any limitation that an “armed attack” must come from outside NATO area, for the “attacked member” to invoke article 5, despite, in this point, the divergence between maximalists and minimalists.
Nowadays, NATO faces more than a purely and easily definable “external threat” as in Cold War period.
The most flagrant case is a NATO’s member, Turkey’s behavior applied as “my proposal is threat” or “my reply is war and aggression”, against another NATO member, Greece. Even if Greece could ignore NATO’s possibilities for a “collective defense”, and followed Turkey into a war, it is obvious that NATO’s dysfunctionality, would be instrumental not only for Greece or Turkey, but first and foremost for NATO itself.
Therefore, nowadays, nobody could plausibly advance that “in order for the collective defense to be activated, the threat or the aggression must come (only)from outside NATO area”.
When cyber attacks or hybrid warfare come from terrorists, organized crime elements or individual hackers inside NATO area, the Alliance rightly and legally reacts.
The International Court of Justice, in its Oil Platforms decision, 2003, stated that “an accumulation of minor events could be tantamount to an armed attack”.
Most recent analysis focus on “NATO’s global range and international role”. They put aside, however, NATO’s internal cohesion. The great deal for NATO is to overpass legal or legalistic approaches and, looking at the mirror, reply frankly to the question: Does it really wish to pay tribute to its international role and extend?
Nobody up to now has reached such a success, without having succeeded to arrange first its “internal affairs”.
photo caption: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ambassador Karolos Gadis, Special Envoy for the Balkans and Black Sea Countries
Photo source: Nato.int