NATO Allies All Responsible for Libya Decision

Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski said that all NATO members bear responsibility for the Western alliance’s operations in Libya, even if only a handful are likely to take part.

“All NATO member states, including Estonia and Poland, are responsible for NATO’s decision to take over the mission in Libya,” Komorowski told reporters during a visit to Estonia.

“But it does not mean that all NATO member states will also take part in that operation themselves,” he added.

Poland is the largest of a swathe of former communist states to have joined NATO since 1999, and has been seeking to boost its role at the top table. Afghanistan, where Poland is one of the top contributors to the alliance’s force, remains Warsaw’s priority, Komorowski said.

“Poland has decided to send one military vessel to the Mediterranean, but at the moment the ship is not taking part directly in the Libya mission,” he noted.

The 28-nation NATO agreed late Sunday to take charge of all military operations in Libya from a US-led coalition that has been protecting civilians from Moamer Kadhafi’s forces since March 19. Speaking alongside Komorowski, Estonia’s President Toomas Hendrik Ilves stressed that his former Soviet-ruled nation of 1.3 million, which joined NATO in 2004, would also not be taking part.

“Estonia has no military planes, and I personally believe the operation in Libya will be over soon,” Ilves said.

He said that the operation struck a chord in countries such as Estonia and Poland, which lay behind the Iron Curtain only two decades ago.

“Poland and Estonia know well that bringing down a despotic regime is easy, but what’s much harder is to build up a new democratic society. Poland knows much better what to do in Libya than those who have supported dictators for the sake of stability,” Ilves said.

He said the situation in north Africa highlighted flaws in the 27-nation European Union, which Estonia and Poland both joined in 2004.

“What we see is once again proof that EU needs a common foreign and security policy — that is our moral obligation,” Ilves said.

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