HomeMEDIA RESOURCES200520 February 2005 - NATO PARLIAMENTARIANS : ALLIANCE CENTRAL IN TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS
20 February 2005 - NATO PARLIAMENTARIANS : ALLIANCE CENTRAL IN TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS
Members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Brussels Sunday 20 February stressed the unique importance of the Alliance as the forum in which to manage transatlantic relations and guarantee global security.
More than 110 NATO legislators meeting on the eve of the NATO and EU summits with President Bush had extensive discussions on current key transatlantic security questions. Great expectations were expressed by all participants that the US President's visit would represent a "new start" for relations between Washington and Europe.
Parliamentarians recognized that questions are once again raised about the relevance or "centrality" of the Alliance. "The state of the Alliance" "said NATO Parliamentary assembly President Pierre Lellouche, "is a question of whether the glass is half empty or half full". On the "half-empty" side, most participants agreed that the war in Iraq has revealed deep splits not just across the Atlantic but within the Alliance itself. Moreover, according to Mr Lellouche, "other challenges on the horizon have the potential to re-open the wounds", namely policies towards Iran and the EU's policy on arms sales to China. On the "half full" side, parliamentarians were pleased by the positive role the Alliance is playing in a number of major theatres such as Afghanistan and the Balkans. Parliamentarians also noticed NATO's continued attractiveness in many regions such as the South Caucasus, Ukraine, Central Asia and, most significantly the countries of the Mediterranean and the "broader Middle East". Members agreed that the current context offers a sound foundation on which to build a renewed allied spirit of co-operation to tackle contemporary challenges.
In conclusion, President Lellouche emphasized the need for greater transatlantic parliamentary dialogue and expressed his determination to maximise the Assembly's unique potential in this field.