2 March 2011- DECLARATION ISSUED BY THE MEDITERRANEAN AND MIDDLE EAST SPECIAL GROUP, ATHENS, GREECE
We, the parliamentarians of the NATO PA Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group (GSM), meeting in Athens with our partners from the region wish to underline the significance of the profound political changes now sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The scope and pace of change in each country differs, and the various outcomes cannot be foreseen. There are, however, certain common factors behind the legitimate grievances of civil societies in the region. We believe that the appropriate response to these grievances is genuine democratic reform and not repression. We therefore condemn the use of violence against those seeking human dignity, respect for human rights and democratic governance.
The events in the Middle East and North Africa pose new challenges to the security landscape and may have important consequences not only for the MENA region but also for NATO member and non-member countries alike. This will require a fundamental reassessment of the Euro-Atlantic community’s approach to the region, its governments and its people.
In the immediate term, our countries need to offer significant humanitarian assistance where necessary. More broadly, the Western community of nations should support all democratic forces pushing for positive change in the region.
If requested, the NATO PA should be prepared to offer support for democratic reform, respecting the unique concerns and sensitivities of the different countries in the region.
The Assembly has a positive track record in assisting with reforms in areas such as facilitating democratic institution building, the democratic control of the security sector, constructing links among democratically elected parliamentarians, and parliamentary staff training.
This expertise and experience should be brought to bear to ensure that the NATO Parliamentary Assembly plays a full part in assisting those nations aspiring to establish democratic government.