Riga, 31 May 2010 - IMPROVING NATO COHESION – A ROLE FOR THE NEW STRATEGIC CONCEPT?
Preserving a cohesion of purpose across the different NATO allies is an ongoing challenge, given the changing nature both of the Alliance itself, as it takes on new members, and of the threats and challenges it faces.
This was the message of a draft report presented to the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Riga on Saturday.
While the NATO headquarters in Brussels and the member states are in the process of updating the Alliance’s Strategic Concept, the Parliamentary Assembly’s Political Committee debated a draft general report on the cohesion among the Allies.
The rapporteur, Canadian Senator Raynell Andreychuk, stressed the importance of keeping the purpose of the Alliance relevant in a post-Cold War world. New security trends need to be taken into account, with operations far beyond NATO territory, extensive partnerships with non-Alliance members, and an increasing diversity of members.
The current Strategic Concept “reflects the least common denominator among the Allies,” says the report. The new edition of that document should clarify the Alliance’s role in the new security landscape, Andreychuk said.
The delegates had diverging views on how much should be explicitly included in the new version.
The text should not be considered a panacea, said the head of the Latvian delegation to the Assembly. Specific problems emerge over time, as new security situations emerge, said Vaira Paegle, member of parliament for the Latvian Pilsoniskā savienība party (Civic Union). It would therefore not be appropriate for the Strategic Document to try to cover in detail all possible eventualities.
She did add, however, that she would like to see a NATO policy that would prevent Allies from selling hi-tech defence equipment to non-NATO countries. A recently announced Russian plan to source military vehicles from
The draft report also generated some controversy for distinguishing between the costs borne by different Allies in Afghanistan. Several delegates said they felt there was no need to compete on casualties, or point the finger at each other for difficulties faced by the NATO-led ISAF operations.
Others commented on the inequality of the burdens shared in supporting the Afghanistan operation, and called for a reform of the Alliance’s funding mechanism.
The assembled parliamentarians were also encouraged to contribute to the cohesion of the Alliance’s cohesion by explaining its roles and methods to its constituents. This was not always easy, some delegates said, citing a lack of clarity surrounding the purpose and success parameters of some of the operations.
The increasing cooperation with non-NATO countries was another area of focus. Partners are working more closely than ever with Alliance troops, with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea making valuable military or supporting contributions in Afghanistan. A structured approach to partnerships could usefully feature in the new Strategic Concept, Andreychuk said.
Overall, given the varying capabilities and situations of the different Allies, differences are to be expected, according to the rapporteur. “The fact that we have different priorities doesn’t bother me,” she said. “The important thing is to be able to deal with those differences.”
The draft of the general report titled Alliance Cohesion was discussed by the Political Committee. Amendments from the Spring Session will be incorporated, and a final version is to be approved at the Autumn Session in Warsaw, in November.
The Assembly’s Spring Session brought together around 340 delegates from allied and associated countries in Riga from May 28 to June 1. The full programme of the Session is available at http://www.nato-pa.int/default.asp?SHORTCUT=2014.