Ger­many’s en­voy: Mis­sile de­fense on NATO list

The Washington Times Weekly - - International Perspective - BY ELI LAKE AND DAVID M. DICK­SON

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.

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