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NATO ENLARGEMENT KEY PRIORITY FOR EUROPE'S STABILITY - ESTRELLA
Brussels, 7 October 2002 - Leaders of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly have committed themselves to NATO enlargement and its centrality to NATO's future and Europe’s stability. The leaders of the Assembly’s 19 member delegations have called on NATO to invite seven nations - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia – to join the Alliance at the NATO Prague Summit in November.
The Declaration on NATO Transformation agreed by the Standing Committee of the Assembly on Sunday 6 October, argues that the seven countries have proved their progress towards NATO membership by pushing through radical reforms at home, supporting NATO operations in the Balkans, and contributing to the fight against terrorism.
"There is a growing consensus on both sides of the Atlantic that enlargement is key to the Alliance's future," said NATO PA President Rafael ESTRELLA. "The whole security landscape has qualitatively changed, and NATO’s response to new challenges will be a central focus at the Prague Summit. The importance of some issues such as NATO enlargement, the fight against terrorism, the closer cooperation with Russia, and the need to maintain peace and security in the Balkans are central to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. NATO must make further profound changes to ensure that it can meet the security challenges of the 21st century, in particular after 11 September”.
“Our Declaration on NATO Transformation represents the collective parliamentary view on how NATO should meet those challenges”, said Estrella.
Estrella said that the logic of the Declaration is that NATO, as well as performing its missions to ensure a safer and more stable Europe, is now also confronted by an uncertain and unpredictable world in which terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) such as chemical and biological weapons are of crucial concern. Adapting NATO’s structures, including the command structure, is essential to enable NATO both to perform its traditional role and to respond to this new environment. It is a matter of a "fairly fundamental change of attitude," he said.
Looking at the consequences of these new threats for NATO forces, the declaration says “NATO forces must therefore be capable of taking action whenever the security of its members is threatened, upon the basis of the United Nations Charter”; this would strengthen the deterrent element of Alliance strategy “by making it clear that there is no safe haven for those who would threaten our societies or for those who would harbour such people.” Action “should be decided on a case-by-case basis by the North Atlantic Council”.
The Declaration supports a greater emphasis on countering WMD and protecting civilian populations from the effects of WMD attacks. It also calls for NATO to improve its force projection capabilities through the further development of special forces and using multinational, rapidly deployable response forces.
It also stresses the importance of NATO’s relationship with the European Union and calls for close co-operation in the improvement of capabilities, the use of NATO assets by the EU and in a comprehensive response to international terrorism which, recalls the Declaration demands to “maintain a proper balance between freedom and security”.
The Declaration recommends that NATO develop a “Partnership for Mediterranean Dialogue” and pays also special attention to the Balkans, encouraging the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) “in its efforts to implement reforms and to take steps towards a full range of positive relations with NATO”.
Acknowledging deficiencies in NATO’s defence capabilities, the Declaration calls for NATO nations to “pursue effective and well directed defence expenditures” and co-ordination in the field of defence research.
Estrella said, “This Declaration highlights the areas of key concern to NATO parliamentarians, who as the declaration emphasises, have a central role in engaging Alliance public opinion. We hope that this will help guide the decisions expected at the Prague Summit and maintain NATO’s relevance in the 21st Century.”
The full text of the NATO PA’s Declaration on NATO TRANSFORMATION is available on this web site.