NATO: A CLUB WORTH JOINING?
VIEWPOINT FROM LONDON
Hrvatski Vjesnik No. 955 - 21 February 2003
'Viewpoint from London' is my new fortnightly column
in the Australian Hrvatski Vjesnik. Future pieces will
also appear on Croatiafocus.com.
The approaching war with Iraq has created serious
Divisions within NATO, the European Union and the
Without going into the rights and wrongs of the war
against Iraq, or the manoeuvring within NATO, it is
important that the implications of these divisions for
Croatia is considered.
NATO operates on the principle that an attack against
one is an attack against all. However, the French and
Germans were able to prevent NATO from preparing to
help Turkey in the event of an attack by Iraq.
The question must then be asked, if Croatia joins
NATO, and is attacked - let us say by Serbia - would
NATO come to her aid? Quite possibly not, it seems.
During the 1991 war, Britain and France prevented any
help to Croatia. If they considered it in their
interests, they could veto help for NATO member
Croatia in the future.
Certainly, the British attitude to Croatia has not
changed; witness how they - and the Dutch - suspended
ratification of the EU- Croatia SAA agreement because
of the Bobetko affair.
We should not believe then that Britain, France - or
any other NATO state for that matter - would not in
pursuance of their own interests prevent NATO military
aid to Croatia if she needed it.
Quite apart from that, the United States will clearly
not rely on NATO for a long time to come. The Kosovo
campaign's NATO divisions did not please the
Americans; after the Turkey debacle they will be less
inclined to take NATO seriously.
Without United States support, NATO is a talking shop.
And without even the assurance of guaranteed help,
would NATO then be a club worth the expense of
As for the EU, the common foreign policy is
non-existent. Further, French President Chirac's
outburst against the Vilnius 10's statement of support
for the United States - including Croatia -
demonstrates that he expects total obedience from
these countries as a price for joining the EU.
The Iraq crisis has shown that countries act in their
own interests, regardless of "united" rhetoric.
Whatever Croatia does, in relation to joining the EU
and NATO, it must recognise this fact. And it must
also recognise that some NATO/EU member's interests
may be quite hostile to Croatia's.
© Brian Gallagher
Edited for CROWN by Ivo Bach