BRATISLAVA, 29 May - Some 250 parliamentarians from 26 NATO member states opened the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO-PA) in the Slovak capital of Bratislava as scheduled on Friday.
It was the first time the NATO-PA has held one of its twice-yearly sessions in Slovakia, which along with Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia, only became a full NATO member a few weeks ago.
The Spring Session opened on Friday with a meeting of the NATO-Russia Parliamentary Committee, chaired by Congressman Doug Bereuter, current president of the NATO-PA.
It continues on Saturday and Sunday with meetings of the NATO-PA’s 5 committees. These are due to focus on a wide range of issues currently affecting the Transatlantic Alliance. These include post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, the ongoing NATO military presence in Afghanistan, the war against terrorism, nuclear proliferation, NATO’s internal reform process, and the security relationship between the Alliance and an expanded European Union.
Ahead of the session, Mr Bereuter called on NATO allies to fulfill their commitments to the Alliance operation currently underway in Afghanistan.
Stressing that the mission badly needed extra resources, he called on governments to live up to their words. “This is a failure of political will, pure and simple. It is a failure that jeopardizes the success of our mission and the very credibility of the alliance,” he said.
Mr Bereuter said “promises and pledges must be kept” and “resources must be quickly deployed”. He urged parliamentarians to return home and “emphasize to our governments that failure cannot be permitted.”
A Plenary Session will be held on Tuesday 1 June – which will include addresses by the President of the Slovak National Council, Mr. Pavol Hrusovsky and Mr Bereuter. The presentations by Mr. Mikulas Dzurinda , Prime Minister of Slovakia, the NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will each be followed by question and answer sessions with the delegates.
Background: The NATO Parliamentary Assembly, founded in 1955 with a Brussels-based secretariat, brings together 248 national parliamentarians from the 26 NATO countries. The 13 associate delegations from Central and Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia participate in Assembly activities and meetings.
For more information: Jonathan Clayton (+421-902849128)or Keith Williams at NATO PA Press and Information Office Tel (421-2) 5752 6920/21 Fax (421-2) 5752 6922 or www.nato-pa.int
Assemblée parlementaire de l'OTAN