Thursday, October 19, 2006

President Bush Supports NATO Membership for Croatia by 2008

Washington – President Bush met with Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader at the White House October 17 and said that during the upcoming NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, he would push for Croatia’s admission to the alliance by 2008.

Bush said he believes “it's in the world's interest that Croatia join NATO, as well as the European Union. To that end, when I go to Riga, I will make the case that Croatia should be admitted. It seems like a reasonable date would be 2008.”

NATO membership is expected to be a topic of discussion at the Riga summit November 28-29, and alliance leaders may signal what conditions should be met for the candidate countries to be offered membership as early as 2008. Croatia, Albania and Macedonia formally have requested membership.

Bush thanked Croatia for supporting “a young democracy” in Afghanistan and said he and Sanader also discussed “investment opportunities in Croatia. We talked about the need to enhance trade and commerce.”

“I consider the prime minister a friend; I consider Croatia a friend, as well,” Bush said.

Sanader said that “about the only question we disagreed [on] was whether Croatia or the United States had the most beautiful coastline.” Bush said he would love to come, having heard that Croatia is “one of the most beautiful places on the face of the Earth.”

The prime minister also said the two discussed the ongoing negotiations over the final status of Kosovo as well as other regional issues. (See related article.)

“Croatia is not forgetting that we are in the region where we still need a strong U.S. and European cooperation,” Sanader said. “We believe strongly in trans-Atlantic partnership. There is no alternative to this.”

Sanader met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice the previous day. The two discussed “Croatia’s future as a member of the Euro-Atlantic community as well as its aspirations to join the EU and NATO,” said State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey during the daily press briefing October 17.

“They did pledge to continue to work together on a variety of issues related to peace and security in South and Central Europe,” Casey added.

Sanader also was scheduled to meet with Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

In advance of Sanader’s visit, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried told the Croatian News Agency (HINA) October 13 that relations between the United States and Croatia “have never been better.” He said he sees “no obstacles, no roadblocks to Croatia’s future as a member of the Euro-Atlantic community and its institutions. Croatia’s fate is now in Croatia’s hands.”

Fried also said membership in NATO “is not simply a gift. Membership requires responsibility. Croatia is already contributing to the alliance’s operations in Afghanistan, so clearly you understand that. I hope that more of Croatian society comes to support NATO membership.” (See related article and transcript.)

He said Vice President Cheney traveled to Croatia in May, where he met with the leaders of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia – the Adriatic Charter nations -- in Dubrovnik and had dinner with Sanader. (See related article.)

The Adriatic Charter is a pact signed by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the foreign ministers of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia on May 2, 2003. It affirms the commitment of the three southeast European countries to the values and principles of NATO, as well as continuing U.S. support for their full integration into the European and Atlantic community.

A transcript of the remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Sanader is available on the White House Web site.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Nuke-deal: Senate, House panels take two roads to same goal

WASHINGTON: In endorsing the India-US nuclear deal with overwhelming majorities one after the other, two key panels of the US Congress took slightly different routes to the same destination - building a bipartisan consensus while ensuring the legislature's watchdog role. To that end, the Republican heads of the two panels, Richard Lugar and Henry Hyde, with their respective leading Democrat partners, Joseph Biden and Tom Lantos, crafted altogether new bills, in place of the ones they had introduced last March at the Bush administration's bidding. Both the Senate and House foreign relations panels opted for a two-step vote for the final Congressional approval. The first, waiving prohibitions to allow the Bush administration to negotiate a peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement with India, and the second to approve the so-called "123 agreement" itself. But here the similarity ends. While the House panel's 'A Sense of Congress' section lays out conditions regarding when civil nuclear cooperation with other countries may be in order, the Senate chose to custom tailor it for India alone. It also made no unsavoury references, like the one in the House panel bill calling "for securing India's full and active participation in US efforts to dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran", that had touched a raw nerve in India. There were references to Iran, but only in Lugar's opening statement, and not unpalatable to India. In fact, one of these was used to exhort the US Congress itself to approve a bill to implement an IAEA Additional Protocol and thus broaden the scope of the India bill. The House panel's 'Statement of Policy' section clarifies US policy in areas like the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the interpretation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in general and a series of goals regarding India and South Asia. On the other hand, the Senate committee's 'Sense of the Congress' dilates on US-India relations and policy declarations involving bilateral relations, democratic values, nuclear non-proliferation regimes, fissile material production in South Asia, and support for IAEA safeguards and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. All of these concerns are reinforced by the bill's comprehensive reporting requirements. Lugar thus described the emerging bill as one that allows US to seize an important strategic opportunity, while ensuring a strong Congressional oversight role and reinforcing the country's non-proliferation efforts - an objective the Senate committee shared with the House panel.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Technology VS Ethics

I remember reading as a child fairytales about the noble and fearless heroes who defeated their enemies and saved beautiful ladies using the magic things and their own merits to fulfill their quests successfully. I was simply fascinated by the hats which made the heroes invisible and saved them from evil forces; by the magic carpets which could give advice and transfer people for long distances and let them return to their beloved in the right time; by the table-cloths which provided the wanderers with food during their long and perilous journeys. And what I wished for was the possibility for all people to have all those magic devices in real life.
But when I grew older I realized it was a blessing that mankind did not possess such magic things, for they would never have been used for good purposes: thieves would definitely have used the magic hats for stealing, lazybones would surely have used magic carpets and table-cloths to shirt work, because, unfortunately, despite all the progressive trends in technology, humanity has made little progress in its morals and ethics, which is proved by the history of technological development.
Whatever has been invented with good intentions was used to pave the road to hell. Weapons, meant to help people to protect themselves, have always been used for struggling for power, turning weapons into the industry of death and the art of killing without need. Medicine aimed once at promoting health and prolonging human lives, deals nowadays with gene-techniques, euthanasia and cloning, which is the direct threat to human life. And if the first two items can be somehow justified, for they probably do some good, then cloning is absolutely absurd – what do we need to clone a man for, when any woman can give birth to one easily?
Or, let’s take the case with computer and TV screens. Screened words and images, written, uttered or animated, have alienated people from each other and lowered the literacy rates. And the problem is not that people do not know their neighbors or do not read books, the problem is that they even do not bother to. Humanity is turning into a mass of robots, frozen at the screen nets, treating the world as a number of algorithms and buttons, where it is possible to shoot and to delete everything, and then to press “reset” and to start the game anew. The generation of users, refined in web-graphics, taught not to think that death is death even on the screen, looks at the world outside the window with indifferent eyes and hurries back to their screens.
To cut it shortly, I have only one thing to ask: “Quo vadis?”