At the risk of too much Bush-blogging, one has to wonder about the irritation level in Athens as George Bush continues to make the case for Macedonia’s admission to NATO, even against the backdrop described by Doug Muir over the last week. Here he is in St Mark’s Square in Zagreb —
The invitation to join NATO that Croatia and Albania received this week is a vote of confidence that you will continue to make necessary reforms and become strong contributors to our great Alliance. Henceforth, should any danger threaten your people, America and the NATO Alliance will stand with you, and no one will be able to take your freedom away. (Applause.)
I regret that NATO did not extend an invitation to Macedonia at this week’s summit. Macedonia has made difficult reforms at home, and is making major contributions to NATO missions abroad. Unfortunately, Macedonia’s invitation was delayed because of a dispute over its name. In Bucharest, NATO allies declared that as soon as this issue is resolved, Macedonia will be extended an invitation to join the Alliance. America’s position is clear: Macedonia should take its place in NATO as soon as possible. (Applause.)
The NATO Alliance is open to all countries in the region. We welcome the decisions of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro to take the next steps toward membership called Intensive [sic] Dialogue. And we hope that soon a free and prosperous Serbia will find its rightful place in the family of Europe, and live at peace with its neighbors. (Applause.)
Perhaps the other NATO countries were thankful he didn’t offer membership to Kosovo. But the Macedonia position seems like a case study in how he’s viewing everything through the Iraq prism. Military involvement in Iraq, however small, is a big plus in his eyes, Greece be damned — even after all the nice things he said on Greek Independence Day. On the margin one would have thought that his pro-Macedonia position makes a name-compromise less likely, since Macedonia knows it has NATO’s biggest member in its camp.