3 April 2012 - – TRANSATLANTIC LINK, CAPABILITIES, AFGHANISTAN, AND PARTNERSHIPS TO TOP NATO PARLIAMENTARIANS’ MESSAGE TO CHICAGO SUMMIT
Meeting in Ljubljana on 31 March 2012, Heads of delegation of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly endorsed the key messages to be delivered by President Karl A Lamers on behalf of the Assembly at the Chicago Summit of NATO Heads of State and Government on 20-21 May 2012.
“Many of the issues on the agenda for the Chicago Summit will require difficult, but important decisions, which will have long-term implications for the Alliance, but also for each of our nations, and for our citizens. The parliaments of the Alliance have a direct say on key defence matters, from decisions on troop deployments to the approval of defence budgets, and so I want to represent the concerns and perspectives of Alliance parliamentarians on the challenges the Alliance faces today”, said Dr Lamers.
Several key themes emerged during the discussion.
Members stressed that the transatlantic relationship is central to the security of both North America and Europe. What makes this relationship unique, strong and lasting are the common values and beliefs that Allies share. Members called on the Chicago Summit to reaffirm the continued strength of the transatlantic bond in a context where global attention increasingly focuses on the Pacific, and Allies face heavy constraints on their defence budgets.
Members emphasized that, in Chicago, Allied governments will need to recognise the reality of the changes which have negatively impacted the Alliance’s capabilities, partly but not exclusively as a result of the financial and economic context. They voiced strong support for the concept of Smart Defence as a means of using limited resources more efficiently to maintain and enhance capabilities, particularly among the European Allies. Indeed, Heads of delegation unanimously adopted a statement on "Smart Defence" urging NATO Heads of State and Government to enact a coherent, joint and long-term approach to capabilities in Chicago.The statement emphasizes that the task of deciding on the allocation of resources to national and collective defence, and explaining these choices to citizens in Allied countries “can only succeed if the Alliance can demonstrate that it is taking the collective decisions and actions needed to preserve NATO’s capacity to provide security for our citizens now and for the future.”
Operations, especially in Afghanistan, should also feature centrally in Dr Lamers’ intervention before NATO Heads of State and Governments. ”Afghanistan represents a formidable challenge and we must not repeat the mistakes of the past”, he told his colleagues. “We need to coordinate our decisions on troop levels, and we need a responsible handover. We also need a clear post-2014 strategy, and we need to engage Afghanistan’s neighbours.”
NATO’s partnerships with an increasing range of countries and organisations also emerged as a clear and multifaceted theme. The remarkable events in the Middle East and North Africa suggest that NATO should be prepared to extend and deepen its partnerships in the region. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly has itself stepped up efforts to engage parliamentary leaders in the region, and explore opportunities for assistance with transition.
At the same time, partnerships with other nations remain essential, and that with Russia was particularly emphasized.
Members also called for NATO’s important partnership with the European Union to be developed further. There was plenty of room for greater synergy both in the field of capability development – by better linking NATO’s Smart Defence initiative and the EU’s pooling and sharing efforts – and in operations, building on experiences in the Western Balkans and off the Horn of Africa in particular.
Lastly, members agreed that the Chicago Summit should provide encouragement to those nations which are actively pursuing NATO membership: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*. Members felt that the Summit should reassert NATO’s support for the aspirant members.
Looking towards the Chicago Summit, President Lamers stated, “We, as parliamentarians have a vested interest in a successful outcome from Chicago. In the current economic context, parliamentarians are called upon more than ever to explain to their constituents what NATO is for and why we must continue devoting the necessary resources – human and financial – for our national and our collective defence. These tasks will be made easier if the Chicago Summit delivers clear commitments on issues such as capabilities and the efficient use of resources. But it must also reaffirm the basis of the Alliance as a transatlantic community of shared values and beliefs.”