New Cold War – Venezuela Furious over Colombia’s NATO Cooperation Talks
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Colombia and NATO agreed to launch cooperation talks. The move prompted a furious response from Venezuela, a recipient of Russian military technology and hardware.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO / OTAN) agreed to launch cooperation talks with Colombia, announced Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during a Christmas speech on Friday at one of Colombia’s military bases. Santos, who received the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his peace accord with Colombia’s FARC-EP said:
We filed the request almost nine years ago for a cooperation agreement, which is the highest position at NATO for countries that are not member states … and they handed me the letter that says Colombia has been accepted to begin conversations on this cooperation.
Colombia already engages in several NATO programmes and activities. This includes the participation of Colombian experts in NATO’s Building Integrity initiative which promotes transparency in the defense sector. Colombia also participates in NATO codification activities which seek to set common logistics standards. In June 2013, NATO and Colombia signed an Agreement on the Security of Information which sets the basis for NATO and Colombia to explore future cooperation and consultation in areas of common interest.
NATO’s expansion, or what NATO proponents describe as “NATO finding new, post-cold-war roles and challenges” have been widely criticized, especially by European politicians who would rather have seen NATO abolished or at least not expanded. Prominent among these voices is former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas who criticized NATO’s eastward expansion and said NATO only benefits those who are running it – a reference to the USA. Others criticized NATO’s role in Afghanistan and the invocation of NATO’s Article 5 after the events of September 11, 2001 in the USA. Proponents of NATO’s expansion refer, among others to the fact that the Baltic countries as well as Finland have experienced Soviet gunboat diplomacy up to World War II and that it is understandable that eastern European countries joined the Alliance.
Santos’ announcement on Friday prompted a furious response from the PSUV administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry released an official statement on Monday, expressing its “concern”. The Ministry noted that Venezuela’s Bolivarian government recognizes the agreement as a threat against regional peace emphasizing Latin American institutions such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States’ (CELAC) commitment to peace of which Colombia is a member.
Venezuelan Foreign Relations Minister Delcy Rodríguez stated: “The Venezuelan Government is strongly opposed to the attempt to introduce external factors with nuclear capability in our region, whose past and recent actions claim a policy of war, violate bilateral and regional agreements of which Colombia is a member (UNASUR, CELAC) and through which Latin America and the Caribbean have been declared a Peace Zone”.
Not so fast would others say. Discussions about Russian military bases in Venezuela were ongoing in 2015 -16 but were halted due to “constitutional reasons”. The discussions culminated as Moscow stated that it considered to reactivate bases in Cuba, Vietnam, among others. Moreover, Russia has “military advisers” in Venezuela. Advisers were introduced when Venezuela deployed Russian S-300 anti-missile batteries in the country. In 2016 Venezuela and Russia finalized agreements about the purchase of 12 Russian Su-30 jets, and Venezuela does not object to the presence of Russian nuclear-armed submarines in its territorial waters either.
Beyond “fan-club-level” analysis - The really disturbing fact is that both of the two Latin American countries, apparently, perceive a need to fall back into cold-war-like roles, by invoking cooperation with rivalling, nuclear-armed superpowers who are self-anointed permanent members of the UN Security Council and who, purportedly, have granted this privilege to themselves to avoid major conflicts.
CH/L – nsnbc 27.12.2016