HomeMEDIA RESOURCES200417 November 2004 - Lellouche sets out five priorities for NATO- PA presidency
17 November 2004 - Lellouche sets out five priorities for NATO- PA presidency
Mr Pierre Lellouche, incoming president of the NATO – Parliamentary Assembly (NATO – PA), has set out five priority areas on which he wishes to focus during his two-year term of office.
Addressing the 50th annual session of the NATO – PA in Venice on November 16, Mr Lellouche targeted the upcoming parliamentary elections in Afghanistan in April as an issue of immediate concern.
Recalling the key role the assembly played ahead of October’s presidential poll, Mr Lellouche said he proposed sending a political mission to the country ahead of the April elections to try and ensure a smooth democratic transition and also to send another mission to observe the poll itself.
Praising the unstinting work of his predecessor, Hon Doug Bereuter, in this regard, Mr Lellouche recalled that pressure from the NATO – PA and others had led to an extra 3,000 troops being sent to the country before the presidential elections which helped create the climate in which some 11 million people registered to vote.
Mr Lellouche said his second priority would be to work for improved relations with and the stabilization of European countries on the margin of the NATO zone. He said countries such as Ukraine “which has its rightful place in Europe and the right to decide on its own future without any external pressure.”
He added that more attention needed to be paid to countries such as Belarus and Moldavia which until now had been left off the path of democratic reforms and the situation in both the north and south Caucasus which has the potential for serious conflict.
Mr Lellouche then moved on to relations with Arab-Muslim world south of the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. “In my opinion, this is the major strategic question of the next 50 years.”
“Terrorism flourishes in places of under-development, despair and ignorance,” he told his fellow parliamentarians in his acceptance speech to the plenary session.
“Our assembly can play an irreplaceable role among the political elites and civil societies of a good number of these countries.”
Mr Lellouche went on to say that in a world of mass terrorism more attention also needed to be paid to civil defence initiatives to protect civilian populations from chemical, biological or nuclear attacks. He suggested that early next year the Assembly spend some time considering these problems.
Finally, Mr Lellouche said he would focus on the “urgent necessity” of repairing and resolving relations between the two sides of the Atlantic. “I could have begun with that as it is capital and conditions all which went before,” he declared.
Mr Lellouche said it was essential for NATO parliamentarians to recreate “trust with the United States by dialogue and common work.”
“Our Assembly can play an irreplaceable role because it alone can mend the links with Congress, a mission even more essential as Congress plays, as you know, a key role in the external relations policy of the United States,” he said.
Mr Lellouche, 53, takes over as president from Doug Bereuter (USA) who did not run in the recent US congressional elections. He is also head of the 18 strong French Delegation to the NATO-PA. Since 2002, he was a Vice President of the organization.