The Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group (GSM)
The NATO PA Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group (GSM) provides a forum for parliamentarians from NATO countries and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to discuss political and security issues and to enhance co-operation.
The wave of popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East has brought renewed interest in the region, with a consequent need for closer co-operation and mutual understanding. However, the NATO PA was one of the first institutions to engage with the region, starting a dialogue with MENA countries already in the early 1990s., The GSM was launched in 1996 as a formal mechanism to address regional challenges, and engage leaders from the region in constructive dialogue.
The GSM resembles a permanent Committee in structure and tasks but draws its members from all five Assembly Committees. The GSM conducts two annual seminars, bringing together parliamentarians from NATO countries with their counterparts in the region, to explore specific topics and to consider the annual GSM Report. The Group also undertakes an annual visit to a country in the region.
GSM seminars and reports cover a broad range of issues, including:
The dialogue was elevated in 2004 with the introduction of the status of Mediterranean Associate Member (now Mediterranean Associate Members and Regional Partners). In order to further integrate the Mediterranean partners into Assembly activities, this new status allows them to participate in most NATO PA meetings, as well as introduce amendments to the Assembly's reports during Sessions. Training courses for their parliamentarians and staff are also envisaged.
Reflecting the increased strategic importance of the Gulf region and the launch of NATO's Istanbul Cooperation Initiative in 2004, the NATO PA has also started establishing links with parliamentary institutions and advisory councils in countries of the Gulf region.
Countries that participate in the activities of the GSM
Invitations to Mediterranean seminars are also extended on an ad hoc basis to Cyprus, Malta, and other parliaments in North Africa and the Middle East.
Recognising the profound changes that the “Arab Spring” continues to bring to the region, the Assembly has stepped up its outreach to the region with two main priorities: strengthening political engagement with the region, and exploring avenues of assistance for democratic transition and parliamentary oversight over security and defence.
On both accounts, the GSM continues to play the leading role in the Assembly’s relations with the region.
| GROUP ANNUAL REPORT|
| GROUP MISSION REPORTS|
| GROUP OFFICERS|