Germany’s envoy: Missile defense on NATO list
NATO foreign ministers will meet with their Russian counterparts before summer and missile defense should be on the agenda, Germany’s envoy to Washington says.
Ambassador Klaus Scharioth on March 24 told editors and reporters of The Washington Times that the resumption of high-level contacts between NATO and Russia was a sign that ties may be warming after the RussiaGeorgia conflict last year.
“If we decide missile defense is necessary, we should give it to the NATO-Russia Council,” Mr. Scharioth said, referring to U.S. plans, advanced by the George W. Bush administration, to put missile-defense components in the Czech Republic and Poland.
The Obama administration has shown less enthusiasm for the plans and suggested that the deployment might not be necessary if Russia cooperates with the U.S. to convince Iran to suspend its nuclear and long-range missile programs.
Mr. Scharioth said that discussing missile defense in the NATO-Russia Council would not only be a good use of the forum — created in 2002 to formalize ties between the alliance and its former main adversary — but “would be a significant signal to Iran that NATO and Russia are doing the same thing and doing it together.”
Leon Aron, director of Russian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, said that ultimately missile defense would be resolved in bilateral diplomacy between the United States and Russia.
“To Russia, such vital important issues as Iran and missile defense are only for Russia and the U.S.,” he said. “They talk to Europe about secondary and tertiary problems like energy.”
Mr. Scharioth added that he was pleased that Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had responded directly to President Obama’s greeting to the Iranian people and government on the occasion of the Persian New Year.
While Ayatollah Khamenei accused the United States of supporting ethnic separatists and urged Mr. Obama to end support for Israel, the German ambassador saw a silver lining.
“We think it is quite significant that on the Iranian side, the religious leader responded,” he said. “If you analyze what he said, he did not shut any doors.”
Mr. Scharioth also said that next week’s Group of 20 economic summit in London should focus on the regulation of financial markets and economic stimulus to fight the worldwide recession.
The failure to adequately regulate the financial markets, especially their incentive structures, “contributed vastly to the cri- sis,” Mr. Scharioth said. “Financial markets have not been regulated enough.”
The ambassador also said that Germany’s economic-stimulus package — the third largest after those of China and the United States — exceeded 5 percent of Germany’s gross domestic product, based on the standards of the International Monetary Fund.
He included the cost of Germany’s “short-term work” program. Under the program, the German government pays up to 67 percent of lost wages when employers reduce work hours.
Mr. Scharioth also argued that both the United States and Germany must play leading roles in the fight against protectionist tendencies.
“If Germany did go protectionist, everybody in Europe would follow because Germany has the largest European economy,” Mr. Scharioth said. As the world’s largest economy, “the United States has the same responsibility.”
German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth.