A Second Chance
Perhaps most observers will be caught up in the Brussels NATO meeting, held on 26 January 2007 and attended by Foreign Minister Peter MacKay. Lately there seems to be a widely held belief that relations among NATO member countries are deteriorating, and each or every gathering could prove decisive. But is that really the case? Will anything that Canada does at any of these meetings either rupture the organization, or produce some miraculous result that will bring everyone back to some common ground? Thus far Canada has been content to remind its allies that the situation in Afghanistan remains grave, that more help from other NATO allies is needed, and badly. So what was new or different this time?
On 26 January one report observed that "Mr. MacKay plans to ask NATO to provide more help in controlling the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Pakistan-based militants have been crossing into Afghanistan to battle NATO and Afghan government forces and to recruit Afghans for the insurgency. Mr. MacKay says this must be stopped, but Canada cannot do the job alone" [cited in Paul Ames’ "NATO Allies Pressured on Afghanistan," The Globe and Mail
, 26 January 2007. Story posted at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070126.wnatoafghan0126/BNStory/International/homehttp://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070126.wnatoafghan0126/BNStory/International/home
]. If anything, intra-NATO relations are in a holding pattern, and there may be no resolution for some time.
So could the real story for January 2007 be one about quiet diplomacy, and one of studying events that received little, if any attention?
It was just over a week ago that MacKay traveled to the Middle East, where he met with a number of officials, including Israeli and Jordanian . The minister’s main message was that Ottawa’s commitment was to regional peace, including working towards a resolution of the Palestinian question. "Our message in the region is clear: we support efforts that will lead to a peaceful and comprehensive resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the creation of a Palestinian state," said MacKay [cited in "MacKay Says Mideast Peace Requires Joint Efforts," AP/CP, 20 January 2007. Story posted at http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070120/mackay_mideast_070120/20070120?hub=Canada
]. Absent was any hint that Ottawa might even want to consider reiterating any messages about a "measured response."
In the middle of the month International Trade Minister David Emerson went to China with a very simple mandate and message–that Canada was losing out when it came to business opportunities with the Middle Kingdom, and something had to be done to correct the problem. "We’re losing ground in terms of market share, of exports...We’re losing ground in terms of foreign direct investment and our share that’s coming to Canada in a North American context," said Emerson from Beijing. He noted he would meet with business leaders and government officials, also stressing that the issue of human rights was not a major hurdle for those he met who were involved with commerce. He did observe that human rights would be brought up with officials, but implied that this time any communications would be discreet and conducted behind closed doors. "As Canadians, we generally believe in market-based economic development, rules-based trade and the rights of individuals...We see these things as fundamental to eliminating poverty and improving living standards," he said [Emerson cited in "Canada Missing Trade Opportunities with China: Emerson," CP, 16 January 2007. Story posted at http://www.canada.com/topics/finance/story.html?id=0ae7cbcc-e3f6-40b3-bdb0-61d8f2afd545&k=92181
So is recent Tory diplomacy really or mainly all about trying to get a second chance at making a first impression? Rona Ambrose, former environment minister, may have some thoughts.
Posted by Stan Markotich
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