General James Jones, NATO’s most senior military figure in Europe, told parliamentarians today that the political and military alliance which won the Cold War was still relevant and remained “one of the main pillars of the transatlantic bridge.”
“NATO is transforming; NATO is still viewed to be relevant and can make an important difference. NATO will be what we want it to be and I am persuaded that just as it was in the 20th Century it is one of the best hopes for future security and stability,” General Jones, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) declared.
General Jones was addressing the closing session of the annual meeting of the NATO – Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) which has been meeting at Venice’s Palazzo del Casino at the Lido for the last five days.
Gen Jones urged members of the NATO – PA, which brings together some 300 legislators from all NATO’s 26 member states and 13 associate members, to help make public opinion aware of the important role NATO can play in crisis areas of the world.
“Most people understood NATO’s purpose during the Cold War… Probably only a very few could tell you its purpose today. All of us must do better at getting the word out if we are to succeed in transforming the Alliance,” he said.
Gen Jones pin-pointed Africa as a possible security challenge in the coming years unless more was done to reduce poverty and establish the rule of law on the world’s poorest continent.
“The rule of law and an independent judiciary are only just beginning to take root. The continuing challenges facing West African governments are vividly illustrated by the continuing violence on our television screens. The violence in Ivory Coast is just the latest example,” he said.
During the Venice session, the NATO – PA’s five committees – Science and Technology, Defence and Security, Civil Dimension of Security, Political, and Economics and Security – adopted a series of reports on topical issues following presentations from international specialists and Italian government ministers.
These included ‘post conflict’ reconstruction and development in Afghanistan and Iraq, the war against terrorism, NATO’s capabilities, commitments and new partnerships, the perceived threat from weapons of mass destruction and the evolving security relationship between the European Union and NATO.
A highlight of the Venice session was a historic first joint meeting on Saturday November 13 between the NATO PA and the NATO Council, the Alliance’s policy-making body. That meeting was attended by NATO Secretary-General Mr Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
Assemblée parlementaire de l'OTAN