10 October 2007 - NATO PA ENDS ANNUAL SESSION DOMINATED BY RUSSIA/AFGHANISTAN
NATO parliamentarians have ended their annual session in Reykjavik, Iceland with calls for renewed efforts to strengthen NATO´s role in Afghanistan and build a closer and more fruitful working relationship with Russia.
At the plenary session, Parliamentarians from 26 NATO member states adopted two key resolutions on the above topics (http://www.nato-pa.int/Default.asp?SHORTCUT=1270). The session also expressed its support for the efforts of the three Adriatic states, Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, to join the Alliance, and adopted a wide range of other resolutions from supporting efforts to control climate change to steeping up efforts to combat terrorism.
The final session yesterday (Tuesday) followed several days of meetings of the Assembly’s five committees and was addressed by Iceland’s Prime Minister, Mr Geir Haarde, who said the “Alliance remains politically and military indispensable” albeit within a broader concept of security.
“Who could have predicted military operations in Afghanistan, humanitarian relief in Pakistan or logistic support in Sudan and who knows what tomorrow may bring?” he declared. “A new and broader role for NATO is not incompatible with the organisation’s core function of collective defence.”
Mr Haarde also said there was no “inherent contradiction between a strong NATO and a viable European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), but urged NATO member states not to disregard new strategic concerns in the North Atlantic and Artic area resulting from climate warming, due to the current focus on Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It is clear that claims to seabed areas and rapidly improving technology will bring the utilisation and transportation of energy sources from the far North into sharp focus,” he said. Global warming has opened up the north-west passage for the first time in history. NATO member Canada has expressed concerns over Russian territorial ambitions in the area.
The Parliamentarians also paid tribute to out-going Secretary General Simon Lunn who steps down at the end of the year after more than 10 years at the helm of the Parliamentary Assembly’s Brussels-based secretariat. Mr Lunn is succeeded by David Hobbs, the current deputy secretary general.
In a valedictory address, Mr Lunn thanked Parliamentarians for their support which had seen the NATO PA expand its membership into former Communist Europe following the end of the Cold War. “We have seen enormous changes and it has been a privilege to work for you during this time,” he said to warm applause.
The final session was also addressed by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. (http://www.nato.int/docu/update/2007/10-october/e1009b.html)
* Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name