You do NOT have to register to read, post, listen or contribute. If you simply wish to remain fully anonymous, you can still contribute.

Enter what you see:
This image contains a scrambled text, it is using a combination of colors, font size, background, angle in order to disallow computer to automate reading. You will have to reproduce it to post on my homepage Tip: Reload page if you have difficulty reading characters
Lost Password?
No account yet? Register
King of Hits
Home arrow Forums
Welcome, Guest
Please Login or Register.    Lost Password?
Go to bottomPost New TopicPost Reply
In Brussels, the old political headquarters of NATO is being demolished. By saying 'old' I mean the one where NATO has been in Brussels since 1967. Information for sticklers, the first HQ of the North Atlantic Alliance was established in 1949 in London at 13, Belgrave Square.

Then the center of decision-making moved first to Paris at the Palais de Chaillot (1952-1966), and later on to Brussels, in 1967.

It has been located since then in the capital of Belgium on the very outskirts of the city at Boulevard Leopold III.

As you know, the political HQ of NATO was moved to Brussels from Paris right after president of France de Gaulle suspended the military presence of that country in the alliance. At that moment, the local Brussels authorities could not offer anything better than the buildings constructed for the needs of a hospital.

(NATO also has two military headquarters. One of them is located in Belgium not far from the Walloon city of Mons. The other one is located in the United States. However, these are unnecessary details.)

The construction of a new complex of buildings of the alliance began in 2008 (active construction work since 2010). It is located exactly at the same address but on the opposite side. The project is expensive (although the budget is classified in details). The new building was erected by American companies under the leadership of Belgian military engineers. Formally, the construction was finished in 2016. The ceremonial opening took place in May 2017, exactly during the Brussels summit of the alliance. As the saying goes, three moves is as good as a fire even though you are in NATO and only have to move classified data folders and computers across the road.

The old HQ, in addition to the hospital legacy, was really inconvenient at least due to the only fact of expansion of the alliance, in which there are now exactly 30 countries. The new HQ is beautiful, no doubt about it. But what is it for? I have no answer to this question. As well as I have no idea to which countries NATO has brought peace, stability and prosperity (at least during recent years while Latvia has been in NATO)?

I had luck to visit the capital of Serbia, Belgrade, exactly on the 20th anniversary of the NATO bombing of the capital of Yugoslavia and I even met with President Vučić. But when you walk in the park not far from the Russian Orthodox Church where Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangler is buried, you see that this park reveals a terrible history of the bombing of Belgrade, and the Serbs still remember this. And in the center stands a monument to the then President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev. He was the first to provide financial assistance to the Serbs, being shocked by the death of old people and children in 1999...

I remember that my first visit to the old HQ as a journalist was right after Latvia joined the alliance. Among other things, I interviewed for television with the Latvian ambassador to NATO, at that time Imants Lieģis. It was striking that the Latvian embassy to NATO was then sitting in a sea container, more reminiscent of a construction shed than a diplomatic mission. And on some temporary wooden poles there were wires connected to that trailer, electricity and, most likely, some kind of super-secret communication channels. There were no more places for Latvian diplomats in the hospital buildings... And all this was in 2005, long before the entry into the alliance of North Macedonia and Montenegro.

A mere mortal is unlikely to be able to approach the gate and take a selfie at the entrance to NATO. To say it is well guarded is to say nothing. But if you are taking the 12th regular bus from Brussels to Zaventem Airport you can take a picture of both the old and the new NATO house from the window, just as long as the bus is at the stop named after the alliance, and so I did.

And every time I find myself at Boulevard Leopold III I recall not without a smile my meeting with the current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He came to us in the Committee on Foreign Affairs of European Parliament and, as it happens to him so far, burst into a rather long speech about the buildup of Russia's military power, which poses a threat to NATO countries, and therefore NATO countries should spend even more money on weapons, he said. As you know, the best question is the one that is most open-hearted. Suddenly, Chairman Elmar Brok let me have the floor, and I asked, 'Today, all NATO countries are spending 16 times more on weapons than Russia. Now you are proposing to spend even more. Does this mean that you recognize two things: 1. Russian weapons are not only cheaper but also more effective; 2. NATO's current budgets are being successfully sharing out so that that amount of money is not enough for a worthy response to 'aggressive Russia'?' I can remember how then Stoltenberg turned red and angry. And naturally, in essence he did not answer. Only Kalniete (we were in the same Committee) shouted from the place, 'Don't listen to him! It's the Kremlin!' I almost died laughing...

And in conclusion, one more touch to the question of the 'principled position of the alliance' on the issue of Russia. When the previous NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen who was born in Denmark, became unemployed, he got a job on the board of the Latvian bank Norvik owned by Russian oligarch Guselnikov who successfully drove it to bankruptcy later. When I was invited to a live broadcast of Euronews by a very famous journalist Stefan Grobe (and it was a completely honest live broadcast, not a recording) together with a representative of the Rasmussen Foundation exactly on the days of the 2017 NATO summit in Brussels, I got possessed to blurt on the air about the salary of Rasmussen paid with 'dirty Russian money'. The poor man ran out of the studio without saying goodbye during the commercial break.

Why am I telling you all this? For no reason. I wish you good night and let evil cruise missiles not come to you in your night dreams.

Andrejs Mamikins
Logged Logged
  Reply Quote
Go to topPost New TopicPost Reply