Lavrov speaks out against NATO at UN


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NATO, US military buildup in Black, Baltic Sea is dangerous, Russian senator warns

© EPA-EFE/Toms Kalnins

MINSK, October 8, 2019 - NATO and US growing presence in the Black and Baltic Sea is dangerous and it is necessary to work out rules of behavior in these regions, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council's temporary Commission on Information Policy and Communications Alexei Pushkov said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Minsk Dialogue forum "European security: Stepping back from the brink," Pushkov said: "We see that today the plans on increasing NATO presence in the Black Sea are being drawn up, and active maneuvers are carried out not far away from Kaliningrad. There have been incidents when Russian military jets flew rather close from NATO warships. This is a rather dangerous situation."

The Senator emphasized that Moscow needs to agree with NATO on the rules of behavior in these regions. "If we were able to agree with the Americans in Syria, then I don’t see any reasons preventing us from coming to terms with the US on the Baltic region and the Black Sea."

According to Pushkov, earlier this increased activity of the North Atlantic Alliance had not been seen in the Black and Baltic Seas. In the past, Russia and NATO used to have understanding about careful behavior in these waters, then the situation changed after the Ukrainian crisis, he stressed.

Pushkov recalled that Russia and the US agreed on preventing air incidents in Syria. "Given that both Russian and US aircraft are there, we made a decision to prevent this incident. Unfortunately, we don’t have these agreements with the North Atlantic Alliance on the Baltic and the Black Sea."

The extent of US and NATO warships’ presence in the Black Sea is unclear, Pushkov noted. He recalled that the notorious Kerch incident in November 2018, which was considered as a reason for NATO’s military buildup in the Black Sea, was later recognized, including by Kiev, as a provocation by former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko ahead of elections.

"They violated the border of Russia and Russian territorial waters, and now this issue is closed and Ukrainian sailors have returned to Ukraine," Pushkov said. According to him, although "some signs of a thaw are seen in relations between Moscow and Kiev, there is no progress on the Black Sea waters.".
US trying to draw Bosnia and Herzegovina into NATO, says Lavrov

© AP Photo/Susan Walsh

SOCHI, October 2, 2019 - Washington and some of its European supporters have taken the course towards drawing Bosnia and Herzegovina into NATO, violating the corresponding resolution of the UN Security Council, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday, addressing the 16th annual session of the Valdai Discussion Club.

"The US and some leading western European states demand that accountable Bosnian and some Croatian parties took the course for the creation of a unitary state in Bosnia," he noted. "The goal is simple — to draw Bosnia into NATO. And for this purpose they resort to various maneuvers, including revision of the UN Security Council’s resolution."

According to the constitution suggested in the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Dayton Agreement) signed on December 14, 1995 in Paris, Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (51% of the country’s territory) and Republika Srpska (49% of the country’s territory), as well as Brcko District.

Pressed by Trump over defense, Germany says can pay more for NATO running costs
FILE PHOTO: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in Brussels, Belgium July 31, 2019.  Stephanie Lecocq/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
Germany is willing to contribute more to NATO's running costs as long as other allies also step up to help reduce the United States' share of funding, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Friday.

President Donald Trump has long accused European allies, especially Germany, the biggest economy in Europe, of taking U.S. security guarantees for granted and says they need to spend much more on their own defense.

With a meeting of NATO leaders looming in December, some allies now see reform of financing for the U.S.-led military alliance as a way to preempt another round of criticism from Trump and show that they are listening to his concerns.

At some $2.5 billion a year, the budget for North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters, international staff and the limited number of military assets under NATO command is a small sum compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars that allies spend on their armed forces each year.

Under a proposal now being considered by NATO, the U.S. contribution to the alliance’s annual budget would fall to 16% from the current 22%, while Germany’s would rise, also to 16% from 14.8%, from 2021. Other countries would also pay more.

“We are ready to provide more money, as long as it is the same contribution as the United States,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters during a trip to Latvia to meet NATO soldiers there.

Comment: Just out of curiosity and to refresh my memory, I remember that Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg serves a 4 year term and that it was set to end somewhere in 2018-2019? I still haven't come across the actual date in 2019 but did locate an interesting article, back-dated to 2016. What surprised me the most - the average salary paid for Stoltenberg's position. The average middle-class American with a College or University degree brings home a salary under $80,000 a year (after taxes). What does Stoltenberg do - to earn that kind of money? (I can just picture him - living on "my income" for a year ... he would hemorrhage in a month and go crazy!)

David Cameron tipped for Nato Secretary General role

29 December 2016 - David Cameron is being considered for the role of Nato Secretary General, according to reports.
The former Primer Minister is understood to be the most likely British contender for which comes tax-free salary of €260,624 (£222,019).

Last month she (Theresa May) met with Jens Stoltenberg in Downing Street for the first time since Mr Trump's election. Mr Stoltenberg is expected to finish his term in either 2018 or 2019.

Britain has held the position of Nato Secretary General three times, with Lord Ismay serving as the first general secretary from 1952 to 1957, then Lord Carrington from 1984 to 1988 and Lord Robertson from 1999 to 2003.

Friends close to Mr Cameron have said it is crucial for the UK to get the Nato job if it wants to "play a greater role in European security and to show EU allies that we want to play a constructive post-Brexit role on the Continent".

One told the newspaper: "The key at this stage is to flag high-level interest in leader level conversations and to show that our eventual candidate is visible and acceptable to everyone.

Mr Stoltenberg started his four-year term in 2014 and could be replaced in 2018 through closed informal diplomatic discussions between allies.


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Recently, Lavrov published another enlightening article, this time in the “Russia in Global Affairs” magazine with the title:

World at a Crossroads and a System of International Relations for the Future

And gave the follow speech today at the UN: The transcript of his UN speech can be found here.
In this article, the author Andrew Korybko gave an excellent review of Sergey Lavrov's most recent article, which amounts to a current "History and Geopolitical Lesson", in itself!

Here ... in the United States, with the current Political climate in Washington, D.C., the majority of American's are seriously confused, as to what direction our Country is going to take and what the future may hold for us and our Families. At the moment, there seems to be no sense of direction but an overwhelming shadow of insecurity, in our economy and in our lives. The future may be open but how do you plan for something that's clouded in a dream, with no hope to base it on? We may not be dodging bullets and bombs but there's a real War going on around us? Most haven't figured that out, yet? We walk around in a dismal stupor, hoping for the best and wonder, "Will Trump win out from the on-slot of pressure and false accusations or are we doomed to the whims and dictates of an elite class, whom have placed us in this sorry state of affairs?" Those who have voted for Trump - place their bets on him and closely monitor affairs. Like most American's, I hope Trump sees his way through this period of utmost chaos and internal strife. Trump has promised to make "America Great Again" - many of us American's are holding onto that promise!

As for a future direction, Lavrov has given "hints" and a possible destination in "a multipolar World". It's time for "change we can believe in" and to be a part of - in mutual friendship. Let there be - No More Wars! America has been there - done that - Enough already!

Russia’s Vision for the Emerging Multipolar World Order. Lavrov
Russia's Vision for the Emerging Multipolar World Order. Lavrov - Global Research

The Russian Foreign Minister’s latest article provides the most up-to-date information on his country’s interpretation of International Relations straight from its top diplomat himself, which includes numerous critiques of the fading US-led unipolar world order and several envisioned goals that Moscow hopes to advance in the emerging multipolar one that’s replacing it.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s latest article “World at a Crossroads and a System of International Relations for the Future” recently published in the “Russia in Global Affairs” magazine is a must-read for experts and observers alike who want to obtain the most up-to-date information on his country’s interpretation of International Relations straight from its top diplomat himself.

Although lengthy, it’s incredibly informative and readers should find his numerous critiques of the fading US-led order to be very interesting. He began his piece by reminding everyone about the rising threat of historical revisionism in the West that aims to delegitimize the Soviet Union’s sacrifices during World War II and its ultimate victory of fascism, the latter of which directly led to the creation of the UN whose yearly General Assembly opens up this week and on which occasion he likely timed the publication of his article.

Lavrov then proceeded to speak about the failure of the fading US-led unipolar world order and what he described as the “irreversible” trend towards a more “just and inclusive system” because of the international community’s rejection of the “arrogant neocolonial policies that are employed all over again to empower certain countries to impose their will on others.” Specifically, he condemned the West’s “rhetoric on liberalism, democracy and human rights (that) goes hand in hand with the policies of inequality, injustice, selfishness and a belief in [its] own exceptionalism” before dismantling the myths built around its hypocritical worldview of liberalism, which he rightly remarked is responsible for the suffering of the Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, and many others. The so-called “rules-based order” that the West aggressively imposed on them is based on “rules” that “are being invented and selectively combined depending on the fleeting needs of the people behind [them].”

This includes “the controversial concept of ‘countering violent extremism’, which lays the blame for the dissemination of radical ideologies and expansion of the social base of terrorism on political regimes that the West has proclaimed undemocratic, illiberal or authoritarian” he said, which amounts to “the introduction of such new concepts is a dangerous phenomenon of revisionism, which rejects the principles of international law embodied in the UN Charter and paves the way back to the times of confrontation and antagonism.” The end result, according to Lavrov, is that “the West is openly discussing a new divide between ‘the rules-based liberal order’ and ‘authoritarian powers'” that sets the stage for a New Cold War as well as justifying the US’ unilateral abrogation of strategic stability pacts that dangerously undermine the existing balance between it and Russia. Unsurprisingly, he also said that the US wants to “contain” Russia and China and turn them against each other.

It’s against this backdrop that Lavrov believes it to be so “absurd” that the US accuses Russia of being the “revisionist force” in International Relations when all the evidence points to Washington being the one actively undermining the post-World War II system. He was quick to remark, however, that Russia was “among the first to draw attention to the transformation of the global political and economic systems that cannot remain static due to the objective march of history” through the “concept of multipolarity” as articulated “by the outstanding Russian statesman Evgeny Primakov“.

With this broad vision in mind, Lavrov proposed several ways forward for the world, beginning with every country recognizing that “the emergence of a polycentric world architecture is an irreversible process” but not one that “inevitably leads to more chaos and confrontation” so long as the principles of the UN Charter are protected and a “balance of interests” is practiced.

Ever the pragmatist, Lavrov pivotally pointed out that “it is also necessary to cautiously though gradually adjust it to the realities of the current geopolitical landscape” through expanding the UN Security Council in order to “take into account interests of the Asian, the African and the Latin American nations” in parallel with “refining the world trade system, with special attention paid to harmonizing the integration projects in various regions.” To assist with this global systemic transition, he recommended “using to the fullest the potential” of the G20, BRICS, and the SCO, all three of which could also work towards “the unhindered formation of the Greater Eurasia Partnership” combining the Eurasian Economic Union, the SCO, ASEAN, and even the EU “to create a solid foundation of security and stability throughout the vast region from Lisbon to Jakarta” in a truly inclusive Eurasianist twist to the previous Euro-centric integrational model of a “Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok”.

Altogether, Lavrov’s latest article brilliantly elaborates on Russia’s concerns with the West’s aggressive foreign policy since the end of the Old Cold War but also refreshingly offers an alternative future vision of International Relations instead of just sticking to polemical criticisms. The blueprint that Russia’s top diplomat laid out of returning to the principles of the UN Charter but cautiously adapting them to the changing conditions of the emerging Multipolar World Order is long overdue and functions as the doctrine for advancing Moscow’s envisaged end game of a Greater Eurasia Partnership that could counteract the centrifugal forces threatening to tear the world apart during this sensitive transitional phase. It’s in pursuit of this ultimate win-win outcome that Lavrov concluded his article with some words of wisdom from his famed Soviet-era predecessor Andrey Gromyko when he wrote that it’s “better to have ten years of negotiations than one day of war”.


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NATO Chief Expresses Concern over Turkey’s Syria Operation
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

October 11, 2019 -NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed “serious concerns” on Friday about Turkey’s ongoing operation against Kurdish forces in Syria and called for “restraint”.

“I shared… my serious concerns about this ongoing operation and the risk of further destabilization of the region,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Istanbul, speaking alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“While Turkey has serious security concerns, we expect Turkey to act with restraint.”

Stoltenberg emphasized that Turkey was an important part of the NATO alliance, but said the operation in Syria, which began on Wednesday, should not undermine gains against the ISIL Takfiri group.

“These gains must not be jeopardized. An imminent concern is that captured Daesh prisoners must not be allowed to escape,” he said, using an alternative acronym for ISIL.

They were asked about media reports that another NATO ally, Spain, might pull out its Patriot missiles from southern Turkey in response to the operation in Syria.

“We expect NATO allies to continue to provide support to Turkey because this is something that was agreed,” said Stoltenberg.

“Turkey is on the frontline… We are here to protect not just Turkey but to protect ourselves,” he added.


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NATO's Stoltenberg defends stance on Turkey's offensive in Syria
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg attends a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg attends a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday defended his stance on Turkey's attack on Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria as he came under pressure from some members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to be tougher with Ankara.

Splits in the military alliance have emerged after NATO member Turkey began its offensive in Syria last week, with the governments of EU countries that are also NATO members suspending weapon sales to Turkey.

Appearing in London at a plenary session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, a body made up of delegates from the legislatures of member states, Stoltenberg said he had expressed deep concerns to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan when he saw him in Istanbul on Friday.

Stoltenberg said he had told Erdogan and his foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that Turkey’s military operations in northern Syria risked further destabilizing the region, escalating tensions and causing more human suffering.

“I expect Turkey to act with restraint and in coordination with other allies so that we can preserve the gains we have made against our common enemy, Daesh (Islamic State),” he said, adding that one imminent concern was that captive fighters from the jihadist group should not be allowed to escape.

But during a question-and-answer session after his speech, Stoltenberg faced robust remarks from several delegates, particularly those from France and Belgium, both countries where deadly attacks linked to Islamic State have taken place.

Christian Cambon, a member of the French Senate, said the situation was unacceptable and suggested that Stoltenberg was being too soft on Turkey.

“We were surprised by the tone of your statement in Istanbul, I have to tell you. Was that in consultation with our great American ally?” Cambon asked, to applause from some of the other delegates.

He was referring to President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to pull U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria, which was the catalyst for the Turkish offensive. Ankara views the YPG Kurdish militia in northern Syria as terrorists linked to a Kurdish insurgency being waged inside Turkey.

Turkey's Role
U.S. and Kurdish troops previously fought together against the Islamic State, and the Kurds have accused Trump of stabbing them in the back.

Cambon called on the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s main decision-making body, to convene. He said it should “speak loudly and clearly in defense of the values of democracy and peace that characterize NATO’s work”.

In response, Stoltenberg reiterated that he had expressed his deep concerns during his meetings in Istanbul.

“The only way you can understand what is going on there is also to understand the important role Turkey has played,” said Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister.

“Turkey is important for NATO. It has proven important in many ways, not least in the fight against Daesh. We have used, as NATO allies, the global coalition, all of us have used infrastructure in Turkey, bases in Turkey in our operations to defeat Daesh.

“And that’s exactly one of the reasons why I’m concerned about what is going on now. Because we risk undermining the unity we need in the fight against Daesh.”
Pentagon chief Esper says will press NATO allies to take measures against Turkey
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper addresses reporters during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday he will meet with NATO allies next week to press them to take "diplomatic and economic measures" in response to Turkey's incursion into Syria.


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Macron takes swipe at halting NATO reaction to Turkey's Syria incursion
French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he holds a news conference at the end of the European Union leaders summit dominated by Brexit, in Brussels, Belgium October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron
France's president on Friday decried NATO's inability to react to what he called Turkey's "crazy" offensive into northern Syria and said it was time Europe stopped acting like a junior ally when it came to the Middle East.

Turkey’s military incursion into Syria to attack Kurdish forces, launched after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled American troops out of the way, caught NATO’s strongest European powers - France, Germany and Britain - by surprise.

It left them incensed, fearing the fighting would cause a security vacuum in which Islamist militants would escape Kurdish prisons and pose new danger, undoing a Western-led coalition’s success in dismantling Islamic State’s territorial “caliphate”.

The Turkish assault also left European Union powers scrambling to form a coherent response beyond refusing to pay Turkey to contain any new refugee crisis on Europe’s doorstep.

Turkey agreed to a truce on Thursday after talks with U.S. officials, setting a five-day pause for Kurdish-led SPF militia to withdraw from an area where Turkish forces now prevail. But Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Turkey aims to seize as a “safe zone”, and shelling could be heard again along the border on Friday.

“I consider what’s happened in the last few days (in northern Syria) to be a serious mistake by the West and NATO in the region,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters after a European Council summit in Brussels.
“It weakens our credibility in finding partners on the ground who will be by our side and who think they will be protected in the long term. So that raises questions about how NATO functions.”

Macron and French government officials have in the last week warned that the 28-nation European Union risks falling into irrelevance on foreign policy unless it finds a stronger and more coherent way to respond to what they see as unpredictable allies such as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

Discovering through Twitter that the United States was pulling its troops out of northern Syria, which forced France to also withdraw its special forces, made it seem as if Europe was an inconsequential junior ally in the Middle East, Macron said.

“I thought we were in NATO. I thought that the United States and Turkey were in NATO, and then I discovered by tweet that the U.S. had decided to withdraw its troops and pave the way (for Turkey’s offensive) in the area,” he said. “Like everyone else, I realized that another NATO power had decided to attack partners of the coalition fighting Islamic State.”

Macron said it was time for himself, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to act and said they would meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in the coming weeks, most likely in London.

“It’s important to meet and coordinate between the three Europeans and Turkey,” Macron said. “We need to see where Turkey is going and how to bring it back to a reasonable position.”

How much the Europeans can actually do to change the dynamics in northern Syria remains to be seen given the balance of power in the region has shifted away from the West.

“The reality I see today is that in the region those who have come out as the winners by imposing their strength are Turkey, Russia and Iran. I’m not sure that was the best strategic thing to happen for Europe and the United States,” Macron said.

“It’s crazy to do what the Turks are in the process of doing.”


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NATO hammers Turkey on Syria operation

October 24, 2019 - NATO defense ministers gather for a two-day meeting to discuss the invasion of northern Syria by alliance member Turkey, amid deep concern over Ankara's actions. (AP)

BRUSSELS: NATO defense ministers Thursday slammed Turkey for its military operation in Syria conducted with Russia’s help, but recognized there was little they could do to sanction their strategically important ally.

The first day of a two-day meeting of the ministers in Brussels was dominated by the issue, with Turkey isolated among the 29 member states because of its incursion against Kurdish fighters it considers “terrorists” but who are key in the fight against the Daesh group in Syria.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described discussions as “frank and open” — euphemisms for sharp discord — and noted “we have seen disagreements before” but the transatlantic alliance has endured.

He stressed that the ministers agreed on the need to “maintain our unity in the fight against Daesh,” referring to the IS group being fought in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere by a broad international coalition including many NATO members.

Germany presented an idea it floated this week of international troops being deployed to create a security zone in northeast Syria — a notion that has been met tepidly by allies because of the situation on the ground and the need for a UN mandate.

The top commander of Syria’s Kurdish force, Mazloum Abdi, welcomed the proposal, telling journalists in northern Syria that “we demand and agree to this.”

But the NATO ministers did not directly embrace the German plan. Stoltenberg said they instead stressed their “broad support... for ways to engage the international community to find a political situation” in northern Syria.

Before the meeting, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said she and her French and British counterparts believed a Turkish-Russian agreement to jointly patrol a “safe zone” inside northern Syria “does not provide a permanent basis for a political solution.”

Belgium’s defense minister, Didier Reynders, said of Germany’s troops idea: “In principle we are in favor of such an agreement to work together — but then again, the situation is totally different now” following the Turkey-Russia agreement.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, speaking at a think tank conference in Brussels before the NATO meeting, was blunt about Turkey, saying it was “heading in the wrong direction.”

“Turkey put us all in a very terrible situation and I think the incursion’s unwarranted,” Esper said.

He defended the withdrawal of “less than 50” US troops from northern Syria that cleared a path for the Turkish operation, arguing it was the only way to preserve the soldiers’ lives, and that in any case he was not “about to start a fight with a NATO ally.”

German defense minister sets out Syria plan to NATO; Turkey, U.S. supportive
U.S. Secretary for Defense Mark Esper and U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison arrive for a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 24, 2019. Virginia Mayo/Pool via REUTERS
Germany's defense minister presented to NATO her proposal for a security zone in northern Syria on Thursday, receiving support from Turkey and the United States but also a warning from the alliance's chief that it may need to involve the United Nations.


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Looks like Nato has been sidelined and they don't like playing second fiddle. This is a 1st for them and it smarts.
God only knows what they'll hatch up now between themselves.
Is it possible, NATO might use Turkey "as a staging ground" with access to the Black and Mediterranean seas and then, try to get Erdogan to work around the Agreements, he signed with Putin?

Quote from article below, "Host to U.S. nuclear warheads at its Incirlik air base and with the second-largest military in the alliance, Turkey gives the alliance a strategic presence, notably on the Black and Mediterranean seas."

The U.S. troops that were transferred from Syria to Iraq could be transferred to Incirlik, since the Iraqi Government wants no part of them, and serve as back-up reinforcements for the U.S. troops that U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is sending to protect Syrian oil fields?

Despite loveless marriage, NATO to keep Turkey close
FILE PHOTO: Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar attends the NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 24, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar attends the NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 24, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

BRUSSELS October 25, 2019 - The U.S.-led NATO alliance has resolved to maintain military support for its ally Turkey despite anger over its operation in Syria and its ensuing border deal with Russia, five senior diplomats said.

Spain had threatened to withdraw its Patriot missiles from Turkey in protest at Turkey’s cross-border offensive that NATO allies say risked jeopardizing the fight against Islamic State militants but which Ankara said was to fight terrorism.

At a NATO defense ministers meeting on Thursday, the first high-level alliance meeting since President Tayyip Erdogan launched his operation in Syria on Oct. 9, Spain’s Margarita Robles said Madrid would not withdraw. It would offer Ankara another six-month extension of the batteries, if requested.

The shift was part of a change in tone that underscores how, despite alarm at Turkey’s behavior in Syria, NATO is determined to keep Turkey close, diplomats said.

In NATO’s inner sanctum, the North Atlantic Council, Turkey’s Hulusi Akar maintained a defiant tone on Thursday evening, maintaining his country had the same right to strike deals with Russia as it did with the United States. Yet only a small group of countries led by France were fiercely critical.

“There’s a concerted effort not to make things worse,” one NATO diplomat told Reuters. “Turkey, after (U.S. President Donald) Trump, has put a renewed strain on the alliance. But Turkey is too important to lose.”

Host to U.S. nuclear warheads at its Incirlik air base and with the second-largest military in the alliance, Turkey gives the alliance a strategic presence, notably on the Black and Mediterranean seas.

NATO is also seeking an image of unity when it holds a summit in London on Dec. 4 to celebrate 70 years since its founding in Washington, hoping to shore up confidence shaken by Trump’s portrayal of the alliance in crisis, diplomats said.

Once seen by some as a Cold War relic until Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, NATO needs Turkey on side as it confronts militant attacks in Europe and seeks to defend against the threat of ballistic missiles from Iran to North Korea.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance had overcome differences in the past, notably during the U.S.-led Iraq War in 2003, which France and Germany opposed. “It’s not the first time we have different views in NATO,” he told reporters.

Still, Ankara’s offensive against Kurdish forces, which once fought along side the United States against Islamic State, and an ensuing deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to patrol northern Syria, brought to a head a host of disputes.

"Keeping the Family Together"
A purge of Western-educated Turkish military officers after a 2016 coup attempt, Ankara’s purchase of a Russian air-defense system and authoritarianism under Erdogan mean Turkey would not meet alliance’s membership standards if joining today.

Erdogan’s comments in September that it was unacceptable for Turkey not to have its own nuclear weapons also made allied diplomats uneasy. Turkey has signed two treaties that ban all nuclear detonations for any purpose.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told the amphitheatre-like North Atlantic Council chamber that Turkey’s operation was “unwarranted” and the latest sign that the Ankara was heading in the wrong direction.

However, in its 1949 founding treaty, NATO has no mechanism to expel an allied member. Turkey joined NATO in 1952. Some allied diplomats have lamented privately there is nothing that allows a suspension or sanctions against an offending member.

There is also a degree of confidence in the alliance that Russia, which Western leaders accuse of a covert campaign to destabilize the West, could never offer Turkey the kind of collective security guarantees that NATO can.

Ultimately, allies agree that Turkey is crucial to the alliance, given its strategic position between Europe and Asia.

“At NATO, you play the long game, you keep the family together. Historically that has worked,” said Jamie Shea, a former NATO official now at the Friends of Europe think-tank.
U.S. to strengthen troop presence near Syria oil fields: Pentagon chief
The United States will strengthen its military presence in Syria with "mechanized forces"
to prevent Islamic State fighters seizing oil fields and revenue, the U.S. Defense Secretary said on Friday, the latest twist in President Donald Trump's confusing policy on Syria.

Eyeing oilfields, U.S. aims to reinforce position in Syria: official
The United States is committed to reinforcing its military position in Syria with additional assets to prevent oilfields from being taken over
by remnants of the Islamic State militant group or others, a U.S. defense official said on Thursday.

Iraq rejects long-term presence of U.S. troops withdrawing from Syria
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper meets Iraq's Defence Minister Najah al-Shammari at the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad, Iraq October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Idrees Ali

Iraq on Wednesday rejected any long-term presence of U.S. forces
that have crossed its border during a retreat from northern Syria, after visiting Defense Secretary Mark Esper initially indicated the troops would remain.

U.S. still pressing Turkey to 'walk away' from Russian missile purchase, official says
FILE PHOTO: Russian servicemen sit in the cabins of S-400 missile air defence systems before a parade marking the anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in central Moscow, Russia, April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva/File Photo
The United States is still in talks with Turkey to get Ankara to 'walk away' from the Russian missile defense system it bought,
a senior State Department official said on Friday, but warned Turkey that the risk of sanctions over the issue persisted.


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Is it possible, NATO might use Turkey "as a staging ground" with access to the Black and Mediterranean seas and then, try to get Erdogan to work around the Agreements, he signed with Putin?
I think that is a possible if not a logical step since now the other "staging" areas are being slowly being contracted. Erdogan seems to be always shopping for the best deal and he always seems open to a better offer. I think the U.S. past attempts at planning a coup to replace Erdogan with Fethullah Gulen may be a big factor in Erdogan's choice of deals.

Let's hope Putin is the best deal maker on the scene. He has so many problems to juggle but he certainly is doing his best to "balance" all of them.


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Is it possible, NATO might use Turkey "as a staging ground" with access to the Black and Mediterranean seas and then, try to get Erdogan to work around the Agreements, he signed with Putin?
From past actions, I can't envision Erdogan holding "a Gentlemen's Agreement" - let alone - any "bilateral obligations" if it doesn't fit in with his own personal ambitions. I'm under the impression, Erdogan makes alliances - for convenience only - while he steadily proceeds with his own interests? Turkey's recent remarks against Iran, as one possible indication of a temporary partnership for convenience, as may be the case, with Turkey's agreements with Russia?

There's a general feeling, Turkey's personal ambitions and greed are playing - right into NATO's plans?

Turkey will remove Kurdish YPG from Syrian border area if Russia won't
Turkey-backed Syrian rebels drive near the border town of Tal Abyad, Syria October 24, 2019. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Turkey will clear the Kurdish YPG militia from its border area with northeast Syria if Russia does not fulfill its obligations under a bilateral accord clinched this week, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.

Turkey says won't tolerate any rights violations in northeast Syria
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his German counterpart Heiko Maas shake hands, in Ankara, Turkey, October 26, 2019. REUTERS/ Alp Eren Kaya
Turkey will not tolerate any human rights violations in northeast Syria,
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday, as a ceasefire holds in a border area where Ankara sent in troops this month targeting Kurdish YPG militia.

Ankara accuses Tehran of betrayal: Is the alliance of convenience collapsing?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold talks on Syrian crisis at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday. (AFP)

October 22, 2019 - Erdogan says Iran betraying the consensus between the two countries.

Recent developments on the ground in Syria may be proof of the demise of the already fragile partnership between Turkey and Iran, the two guarantor states of the Astana process alongside with Russia.

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi announced that Iran rejected any move from Turkey to establish military posts inside Syria, and emphasized that the integrity of Tehran’s key regional ally should be respected.

Prior to departing for Sochi, to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “I condemn Iran’s stance on Operation Peace Spring. Unfortunately, there are splintering voices rising from Iran. This situation disturbs my colleagues and myself.”

Erdogan also accused Iran of betraying the consensus between the two countries, after Tehran condemned Turkey’s ongoing operation in northern Syria
against Syrian Kurdish forces and demanded “an immediate stop to the attacks and the exit of the Turkish military from Syrian territory.”

The statements are considered by experts another sign that the alliance of convenience between the two regional competitors is ending, with their regional interests beginning to conflict.

Iran has always been a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and has been keen to engage Syrian Kurds, Assad’s government and Turkey in dialogue following Ankara’s offensive into northern Syria, within the framework of the Adana Agreement as a legal framework to establish security along the border.

Tehran also held surprise military drills near the Turkish border on the same day Turkey launched its operation into northern Syria.

Dr. Michael Tanchum, senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Studies, said: “With the removal of US troops in northern Syria, which both Ankara and Tehran opposed for different reasons, Turkey and Iran’s conflicting strategic interests are now naturally coming to the forefront.”

Moreover, according to Tanchum, Iran has already fought elements of the paramilitary forces now that are now partnering with Turkey. “Tehran is distressed that such elements are being empowered. While Iran needs Turkish cooperation in the face crippling US sanctions, Iran needs Russia’s cooperation much more,” he told Arab News.

However, Tanchum thinks that the idea Tehran would triangulate between Ankara and Moscow as a way of preserving its own position in Syria seems quite unlikely. “If Iran has to choose between Turkey and Russia in Syria, it will choose Russia. In this sense, the previous dynamics of the Astana process are no longer in place,” he said.

However, Dr. Bilgehan Alagoz, lecturer at Istanbul Marmara University’s Institute for Middle East Studies, said that rumors about the death of the Iranian-Turkish alliance in Syria may be a bit exaggerated, at least for now.

For Alagoz, Iran is hesitant about cooperation between Turkey and the US, which has the possibility of creating a confrontation against Iran’s interests in Syria. “On the other hand, Iran is uncomfortable with the US military presence in Syria. Therefore, Iran is facing a dilemma,” she told Arab News.

According to Alagoz, at this point Iran needs to pursue diplomacy with both Turkey and Russia. “Thus, I do not think that the Iranian statements against Turkey will continue for a long time,” she added.

With the civil war now in its eighth year in Syria, Assad’s forces have gradually gained control of strategic cities in northwestern Idlib province, like Khan Sheikhoun, with Russian and Iranian support. The Syrian regime also attacked Turkish military observation posts in the region over the summer.

In the meantime, in a surprise decision on Monday evening, Turkey appointed former Halkbank executive Hakan Atilla, who was sentenced to prison in the US over Iranian sanctions breaches, as the new CEO of the Istanbul Stock Exchange.
Defense chief Esper: US troops, armored vehicles going to Syria oil fields

US Secretary for Defense Mark Esper speaks during a media conference after a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (AP)

BRUSSELS: Pentagon chief Mark Esper said Friday that the United States will leave more American troops and armored vehicles in eastern Syria to help prevent Daesh militants from gaining access to oil fields controlled by US-allied Syrian Kurds. That deployment will likely likely include tanks, a US official said.

Russia says U.S. presence in Syria illegal, protects oil smugglers
FILE PHOTO: American soldiers stand near military trucks, at al-Omar oil field in Deir Al Zor, Syria March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said/File Photo

Russia's defense ministry on Saturday attacked U.S. plans to maintain and boost the American military presence in eastern Syria as "international state banditry" motivated by a desire to protect oil smugglers and not by real security concerns.

Erdogan should be prosecuted over Syrian offensive: ex-U.N. investigator del Ponte
FILE PHOTO: Carla del Ponte, member of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic attends a news conference into events in Aleppo at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan should be investigated and indicted for war crimes
over his country's military offensive in Syria,
former prosecutor and U.N. investigator Carla del Ponte said in an interview published on Saturday.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I think that is a possible if not a logical step since now the other "staging" areas are being slowly being contracted. Erdogan seems to be always shopping for the best deal and he always seems open to a better offer. I think the U.S. past attempts at planning a coup to replace Erdogan with Fethullah Gulen may be a big factor in Erdogan's choice of deals.

Let's hope Putin is the best deal maker on the scene.
He has so many problems to juggle but he certainly is doing his best to "balance" all of them.
As I'm perceiving it, Putin's main purpose is to adhere to prior signed Agreements and to upholding International Law directives. Any deals have to meet those guideline's. It's through that disciplined approach and unwavering adherence to Law and Mandates, that Russia has been thrust into the International limelight, as trustworthy Partners in trade agreements and monetary investments. That same moral and earned reputation has led to foreign Countries asking Russia to be intermediaries in deadlock Political disputes. Russia is truly - the Peacemaker!

Given Russia's position and adherence to Law and prior Agreements, now consider the recent meeting between Russia and Turkey that took six hours. That, in itself, indicates to me - Erdogan position and demands were NOT in line with former signed Agreements.

I can't even imagine - what went into those negotiations - to finally come to some mutual agreements? (Ever try to reason with a solid wall?)

I don't trust Erdogan and I wouldn't put it past him, in using NATO, to help propel his own personal agenda?


FOTCM Member
From past actions, I can't envision Erdogan holding "a Gentlemen's Agreement" - let alone - any "bilateral obligations" if it doesn't fit in with his own personal ambitions. I'm under the impression, Erdogan makes alliances - for convenience only - while he steadily proceeds with his own interests? Turkey's recent remarks against Iran, as one possible indication of a temporary partnership for convenience, as may be the case, with Turkey's agreements with Russia?

There's a general feeling, Turkey's personal ambitions and greed are playing - right into NATO's plans?
I have never trusted Erdogan and agree with what you have written! He's not one to be trusted on any "agreements" he makes, or so it seems to me.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Hungary vetoes NATO statement on Ukraine over minority rights: ministerFILE PHOTO: Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto attends a news conference at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil October 8, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo
Hungary has vetoed a joint NATO declaration on Ukraine as it did not contain a reference to its neighbor's obligation to fully respect the rights of ethnic Hungarians living there,
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday.

Yugoslavia's brutalist relics fascinate the Instagram generation
The Monument to the Uprising of the People of Kordun and Banija stands in Petrova Gora, Croatia, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

The Monument to the Uprising of the People of Kordun and Banija stands in Petrova Gora, Croatia, February 26, 2019. Marko Djurica

BELGRADE October 30, 2019 - Genex Tower is unmissable on the highway from Belgrade airport to the center of the city.

Its two soaring blocks, connected by an aerial bridge and topped with a long-closed rotating restaurant resembling a space capsule, are such an unusual sight, the 1977-build tower has become a magnet for tourists despite years of neglect.

The tower is one of the most significant examples of brutalism - an architectural style popular in the 1950s and 1960s, based on crude, block-like forms cast from concrete.

Brutalism was popular throughout the eastern bloc but the former Yugoslavia made it its own - seizing on it as a way to forge a visual identity poised between East and West.

Interest in the style is soaring - particularly since a 2018 exhibition in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) called Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980.

“We have dozens of people every week interested in taking our Yugo tour around city landmarks built from the 1950s to 1980s,” said Vojin Muncin, manager of the Yugotour sightseeing agency which guides tourists around the Serbian capital in Yugos - former Yugoslavia’s once ubiquitous car.

“Genex Tower is among the most interesting sight. People see it on their way from the airport and it immediately draws their attention.”

Today one of the pillars is empty, while the other is residential. The rotating restaurant was last open in the 1990s.

Keen to capitalize on the interest, Belgrade authorities are now considering opening parts of another masterpiece of Yugoslav brutalism - the Palata Srbija government building, which is currently only open once a year.

Building a dream
After World War Two socialist Yugoslavia led by Josip Broz Tito set out to reconstruct a land destroyed by fighting. Initially allied to the Soviet Union, Tito broke with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1948.

Residential blocks, hotels, civic centers and monuments all made of concrete shot up across the country.

The architecture was supposed to show the power of a state between two worlds - Western democracy and the communist East, looking to forge its own path and create a socialist utopia.

But after Tito died in 1980, and economic crisis took hold, the new elites sought to distance themselves from the socialist regime, including its architecture. In 1991 the series of wars began that led to the collapse of Yugoslavia.

“Now enough time has past (since Yugoslavia fell apart) and people have begun to appreciate the architecture of Yugoslavia,” said Alan Braun, lecturer at Zagreb University’s architecture faculty.

He said the style was unique because of its visible influence from the West, reflecting Yugoslavia’s unique position.

Residential areas were planned to have enough parks, cinemas, swimming pools and even parking space.

The Palata Srbija building hosted former world leaders such as U.S. presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and Russian leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev.

Each of the former Yugoslav republics had its own salon with a central room called the hall of Yugoslavia. Furniture and carpets were custom made and some of the most prominent artists produced paintings and mosaics.

The outside of the building is concrete, but the inside is marble. Its centerpiece is a crystal chandelier beneath a 19 meter dome weighing more than nine tonnes. “It is a shame to keep such a master piece away from the eyes of the public,” said Sandra Vesic Tesla, curator of the building.

Other examples of Yugoslav brutalism include the huge memorials commemorating the struggle against fascism by Tito’s partisans, often placed in dramatic rural settings.

Many of those pieces of art remain in disrepair, such as the monument to the uprising against fascism in Petrova Gora in Croatia. However, the Tjentiste memorial, commemorating the killing of 7,000 people by the Nazis was renovated last year.

Miodrag Zivkovic, the 91-year-old sculptor of the 19 meter-high concrete Tjentiste memorial was among the first artists in the former Yugoslavia to use concrete. “It is stable material, resembling stone but it is easier to work with,” he said.

“For every project back in those days there was a national contest, and artists from all over the country had the opportunity to apply, and that competition produced quality.”
Slideshow (21 Images)
Yugoslavia's brutalist relics fascinate the Instagram generation


Looks like the "5 Eyes" (Canada, the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand) of NATO's military are turning to the if THAT'S going to end well...

I am posting the full article, as I noticed it is showing up chopped and censured by several of the bigger Canadian News carriers already.:shock:

Nov 24, 2019
OTTAWA — The NATO military alliance looked to space, the final frontier, earlier this week as members formally recognized the cosmos as integral to their mutual security, agreeing to bolster ways to defend their satellites and other space-based infrastructure from enemy attacks.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg insisted the measure was purely defensive and did not include plans to put weapons into orbit.
But it represented a marked departure from the United States, which is preparing to fight a future war in space if necessary.

The divergent views of the alliance, on the one hand, and its largest and most influential member, on the other is in many ways emblematic of the challenge Canada itself is facing when it comes to working with the U.S. on space.

"Because of Canada's alliance with the United States, there might be some pressure to adopt or toe a very similar line to the United States," said David Kuan-Wei Chen, executive director of the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law at McGill University.

"But so far, I think the political leadership and people at the Department of National Defence have resisted that."

The federal government's 2017 defence policy laid out a broad vision for the Canadian Armed Forces' operations in space, which recognized its importance to the country's peace, security and prosperity — and the need to ensure satellites and other assets are protected.

The policy also spoke to the need to work with Canada's intelligence partners known as the Five Eyes — the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand — "with the aim of strengthening deterrence (and) improving the resilience of space systems on which Five-Eyes militaries rely."

Yet it also called for Canada to work with other countries to promote "the peaceful use of space and provide leadership in shaping international norms for responsible behaviour in space" while supporting efforts "to ensure that space does not become an arena of conflict."

"There are members in (NATO) who are vehemently opposed to the entire idea of waging conflict in space, among which Canada is one," said Kuan-Wei Chen, who is overseeing development of a manual dealing with international law and the use of military force in space.

"Canada has become quite a leader in trying to establish fundamental principles or standards of space operations to ensure space is used for peaceful purposes."

The federal government in July called for new ideas and technology to help protect Canadian satellites from natural threats such as solar weather and space debris, as well as cyberattacks, signal-jamming, lasers and anti-satellite missiles.

But the measure is intended to be defensive in nature and address the government's stated desire to make Canada's military and civilian satellites more resilient to threats. So far there are no indications the government is looking at offensive space capabilities.

Stoltenberg explained during a news conference this week that NATO's recognition of space as an "operational domain" similar to air, land, sea and cyber was a reflection of its growing importance to global peace, security and prosperity.

"Space is becoming more and more important for our military operations and missions," he said. "And it also has to do with the vulnerability, the resilience of our civilian societies, because space is so important for navigation, for communications and for many other things."

That does not mean, however, that NATO has any intention of putting weapons into space, he said.

"We are a defensive alliance and our approach will remain fully in line with international law," he said.

The NATO chief later sidestepped a question about how NATO would communicate or otherwise link up with the U.S. Space Command, which President Donald Trump officially unveiled in August. It approaches space as a "warfighting domain."

"I'm convinced that in the future, if we were to get into a conflict with a peer or near-peer competitor, we're going to have to fight for space superiority," Gen. John Raymond, the commander of U.S. Space Command, said this week.

"We are a warfighting command," he later added, noting that meant both offensive and defensive operations.

Raymond went on to insist the U.S. does not want to fight a war in space, and that its approach is one of deterrence rather than provocation.

That distinction has done little to assuage some critics who fear the weaponization of space.

"The U.S. has called it a warfighting domain, whereas the secretary general calls it recognizing space as an operational domain," said Kuan-Wei Chen. "It shows there is a very clear rift in the alliance."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2019.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
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