The informal meeting of NATO defense ministers is opening Thursday in the capital of Hungary, Budapest. Forty-two official delegations are expected to participate in the two-day forum; about 700 guests in total are expected to attend the event, Itar-Tass reports. NATO’s defense administration will discuss questions relating to the membership of Georgia and Ukraine in the alliance and plans to protect the alliance members and partners that border on Russia.
Robert Gates has recently announced an opportunity to deliver several US warships to Ukraine within the framework of the plan. The warships may eventually replace Russia’s Black Sea Navy in Ukraine’s Sevastopol. Russia does not sit on its hands either. Russia and Belarus intend to sign an agreement in the beginning of November about the creation of the joint regional missile defense system.
Hungary hosts such an event for the first time during nine years of its NATO membership.
The forum in Budapest will discuss the key problems of the alliance, which include the current state of affairs in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as reform plans of the organization.
The first session of the recently-established NATO-Georgia Committee will take place on the ministerial level during the last day of the forum.
The current meeting of NATO defense ministers is the first political event after the war in Georgia. The Georgia-NATO Committee will discuss issues relating to NATO’s support of Georgia and its assistance in the restoration of its military opportunities.
Spokespeople for NATO Headquarters said that Russian defense officials had not been invited to participate in the discussion about the war in the Caucasus, although Russian officials were often present at such meetings before.
Russia’s Ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, stated that Russia did not give any special significance to that.
“It is not the matter of NATO not inviting us somewhere. The two sides are not ready to restore the dialogue yet. We are not someone who is scratching the door of the bathhouse whining for a permission to enter the club of sweaty naked men,” Rogozin said.