No-one can foresee the outcomes of popular unrest in the Middle East and North African region but we sincerely hope that the freedoms we enjoy in NATO member countries will take root there as well.
NATO is a values-based Alliance and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly is an expression of the Alliance ’s core value of democratic governance. Our Assembly places a high priority on its existing cooperation with the states of the Middle East and North Africa, and we stand willing to respond to requests for assistance in the development of representative governance in the region.
Twenty years ago, our Assembly helped the then fledgling parliaments of Central and Eastern Europe to develop effective civilian oversight of the security sector and civil-military relations appropriate to democratic governance. The situation today in the Middle East and North Africa is clearly unique, but the scenes on the streets of Cairo, Tunis, and elsewhere evoke similar emotions and hopes for the future. Should our partners in the Middle East and North Africa request it, I am certain that my colleagues would be willing and eager to provide similar advice and assistance.
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly will follow developments closely. They will naturally feature prominently in our Mediterranean and Middle East Seminar next week in Athens. Furthermore, we will use the next meeting of our Standing Committee in Portugal in early April and the Spring Session in Bulgaria at the end of May to assess the implications of the events in North Africa and the Middle East, and to determine how the Assembly could respond to any appeals for assistance in the field of democratic institution building.