Sonia KRIMI (France)
24 November 2021
This report was adopted by the Political Committee at the Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Lisbon.
The Mediterranean Sea has three strategic entry points, providing access to the Atlantic Ocean, the Red Sea which leads to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the Black Sea which leads to Eastern Europe and Russia. Thus, the Mediterranean connects all the world’s major political, economic and energy hubs. It is a crucial region not only for external actors such as Russia, China, the Gulf powers and the United States, but also for the countries that surround it, all involved in various ways in more or less elaborate multilateral networks. From the beginning of the 2010s, this region was also marked by a succession of political upheavals, brought to a climax in Syria, Iraq and Libya. These developments gave rise to an unprecedented migratory crisis for Europe and to new international security threats.
As a result, the Alliance has become increasingly interested in this space. A discussion forum was set up in the mid-1990s through the Mediterranean Dialogue. Later, the 2010 Strategic Concept took into account the political and military developments on the Alliance’s southern flank. And since then, NATO has made significant progress. Within the Allied Joint Force Command Naples, the Southern Hub was established to boost vigilance and coordinate Allied maritime operations in the region. NATO also cooperates with other organisations there, such as the European Union and the African Union. Yet today, certain differences between Allies hamper NATO’s ability to develop a constant, clear and coherent strategy that would specify its role in tackling challenges and threats from the South. The emphasis put on increasing political consultations at the Brussels Summit last June and the upcoming revision of NATO's Strategic Concept offer an opportunity to strengthen NATO consensus on these issues.
This report first presents the impact of the Mediterranean security landscape on Alliance security through three axes: the two areas under tension; transversal factors and challenges; and the role of external actors. It then assesses the Allies’ role in promoting stability and security in the Mediterranean as part of the essential core tasks. Finally, it makes recommendations to strengthen NATO’s programmes, initiatives and partnerships in the Mediterranean in order to promote regional stability.