NATO leaders urged to boost collective defense to dissuade Russia
Tirana, May 30, 2016 – Lawmakers called Monday on NATO leaders to boost the Alliance’s collective defences to confront an increasingly assertive Russia and ensure that any aggression is met with a rapid response and reassure those allies that feel under threat.
In a declaration at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Spring Session, co-presented by Nicole Ameline (France) and Ojars Eriks Kalnins (Latvia) the lawmakers urged the leaders to develop a comprehensive strategy at their summit in Warsaw in July to boost stability in the broader neighbourhood with partners like the United Nations, European Union and regional actors.
Defence budgets too need to be boosted, the parliamentarians agreed at the session in Tirana, Albania, with only five of the 28 member states currently meeting the target spending of two percent of Gross Domestic Product.
“We need a strategy to ensure that Russia’s renewed aggressiveness comes at a price and that further aggression is deterred. In Warsaw, we must reaffirm that deterrence – conventional and nuclear – and collective defence remains NATO’s first and essential mission,” said NATO PA President and US Congressman Michael Turner.
The declaration, adopted unanimously, urges heads of state and government to assert that a threat to any ally will be met with the Alliance’s combined might, reassuring those on NATO’s eastern and southern flanks. Partnerships with Sweden and Finland should be strengthened to boost security in the Baltic Sea region, where the Russian military has been increasingly active.
With terrorism on the rise and the Islamic State group capable of launching attacks in Europe or the United States, the leaders should also consider measures to support the anti-Daesh coalition and be ready for any request for anti-terror help from Libya.
“While Daesh is losing ground in Iraq and Syria, it is attempting to gain a foothold in other regions, from Yemen to Libya,” warned Kalnins. “Its hateful ideology continues to attract some of our own citizens, and inspire horrific attacks in our cities.”
Consequently, assistance to North African and Middle East countries could also be boosted if needed, and tighter partnerships developed with the Arab League and countries of the Gulf and Africa. NATO should boost cooperation on migration as well with European border agency Frontex.
On military budgets, the declaration calls on the leaders to bolster arrangements for ensuring that all Allies share the defence burden and redress inequalities in spending, with the aim of meeting the benchmark two percent no later than 2020.
Lawmakers also welcomed Montenegro’s progress toward membership and urged leaders to reaffirm Georgia’s prospects of joining the Alliance one day and express support for the efforts made by aspirants Bosnia-Herzegovina and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*.
Addressing the plenary, NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said the leaders aim to underline the vital importance of making progress simultaneously in two key areas: strengthening collective defence and deterrence and projecting stability beyond NATO’s borders.
“I expect leaders at Warsaw to agree on an enhanced forward presence in the East of the Alliance, including multinational battalion-sized units provided by European and North American allies. This will make it clear to anyone who would do us harm, from the East or the South, that an attack against any ally will be swiftly met by forces from across the Alliance,” Vershbow said.
*Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.