18 June 2008 - NATO PARLIAMENTARIANS MET WITH UN OFFICIALS, US EXPERTS IN NEW YORK AND BOSTON
A parliamentary delegation led by Bulgarian MP Assen Agov, Chairman of the NATO PA Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Relations, met with senior UN representatives to discuss Afghanistan, peacekeeping operations and institutional relations with NATO during a 9 to 13 June visit to the United States.
“Afghanistan operations require close international co-ordination of military, political, economic and other means”, said Ambassador Zahir Tanin, the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan. According to Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber, Director, Office of Operations at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the security situation is ‘difficult but not hopeless’. Though problems remain, in particular drug production, according to him, the insurgency is not capable of winning the war and the upcoming elections will be important, particularly to re-legitimise the authority of the government in Kabul. For independent experts Barnett Rubin and Rahul Chandran of the New York University’s Center on International Cooperation—met on a separate occasion—the international community should focus on deeper improvements at local level, and more transparency on the provided international assistance is required. Tackling poppy cultivation would notably require improvements in conditions for local food production and distribution rather than eradication, which they warned, would be “counterproductive”.
Kosovo was also addressed by UN officials as another area of NATO-UN co-operation facing many uncertainties. There was, however, general agreement that UN Security Council Resolution 1244 still provided the legal basis for NATO’s presence there. According to David Harland, Director of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ Europe & Latin American Directorate, Kosovo needs to develop better regional relations and strengthen the rule of law to improve its economic and political development. Gordon N. Bardos, assistant director at Columbia University, warned that “things will get worse before they will get better”. He suggested that a number of threats, primarily organised crime, Islamic militants, and paramilitaries, can derail progress towards democratic societies in the Balkan region.
In general, UN officials informed the delegation that the UN has developed a good operating relationship with NATO and the NATO Liaison officer at UN Headquarters, Colonel Eric Heeze, confirmed that a formal NATO – UN agreement would allow for smoother, more continuous co-operation between the two organisations.
In separate briefings taking place both in New York and Boston, the delegation could also hear from various independent experts on US foreign and security issues as well as on possible diplomatic solutions for the crisis with Iran over its nuclear programme.