Allied unity, firmly rooted in democratic values, and unwavering support to Ukraine top NATO PA Spring Session in Sofia

23 May 2024

“75 years ago, Europe and North America decided to defend each other against aggression,” President Michal Szczerba (Poland) recalls in his welcome video to the 2024 Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA), which will kick off tomorrow Friday 24 May in Sofia and end with a plenary sitting on Monday 27 May. 

“NATO has been the most successful alliance in history because we are bound together by shared values: democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law,” he underlines. “They are the beating heart of our prosperity. Today, these values are under attack. We must defend them at home. And we must defend them in Ukraine.” 

Allied unity, firmly rooted in their shared democratic values, and unwavering support to Ukraine until victory and beyond will be the key themes running through the Session. The Session is hosted by the National Assembly of Bulgaria and its delegation to the NATO PA, led by Daniel Mitov. It will bring together over 200 members of parliament from NATO nations and the NATO PA’s broad network of partners. 

“For over 800 days, despite Russia’s relentless aggression, [the Ukrainian people] have proven that democracy is resilient. That this is stronger than fear,” underlines President Szczerba. “We must do all we can do to support them; free from self-imposed red lines.” 

On Monday, the Assembly will adopt a declaration on supporting Ukraine, which will lay out the members’ recommendations on immediate and long-term support. During the plenary sitting, members will also hear from and exchange with Rustem Umerov, Minister of Defence of Ukraine, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on how to speed up and step up military and other support to Ukraine. Throughout, members will also engage with their Ukrainian parliamentary colleagues.  

Delegates are also set to adopt strong recommendations for NATO Heads of State and Government, who will soon meet for a critical Summit in Washington, D.C. (9-11 July). Importantly, they are expected to call for: 

  • turning NATO’s commitment to democratic values into concrete actions by establishing a Centre for Democratic Resilience at NATO HQ; 
  • making NATO’s new defence plans executable; and 
  • delivering on defence spending and burdensharing commitments. 

“As NATO parliamentarians, we represent one billion citizens. We must shape NATO for the next generation. Stronger than ever,” stresses the President. 

“An Alliance of democracies, with a Democratic Resilience Centre at NATO Headquarters. An Alliance determined to defend every inch of Allied territory, at all times, under Article 5. An Alliance which fairly shares the benefits and responsibilities. And an Alliance which welcomes those who share our values and contribute to our shared security.”  

Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine and its aggressive acts in the Black Sea region present Europe with the biggest threat to peace since the end of World War II, says Mitov in his welcome video: “That’s why we have no right to wait for a second warning. We must act unified and united.” 

In NATO’s 75th anniversary year, the Assembly will also mark the achievements of the most successful Alliance in history. Equally, they will also celebrate Bulgaria’s recent anniversary of 20 years of membership. 

“There is something iconic in the fact that we'll host such a significant event in 2024, a year that marks 20 years since the accession of the Republic of Bulgaria as a full member of NATO,” said Bulgarian delegation head Mitov in his welcome video. “Bulgaria is a solid Ally in NATO contributing to the common security, especially in two strategic regions: the Black Sea and the Western Balkans.”  

The Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Dimitar Glavchev, and Vice-President of the National Assembly, Rositsa Kirova will address the full membership. Other high-level Bulgarian government officials and independent experts will engage with members during Committee meetings on Saturday and Sunday. 

The Swedish parliament will also take part in its first session as full members after NATO accession in March. Andreas Norlén, Speaker of the Riksdag, will address Monday’s plenary sitting. 

Other key topics on the agenda of the session include:

  • Bulgaria’s contributions to NATO; 
  • NATO’s strengthened deterrence and defence, including the evolving air and missile defence posture; 
  • Black Sea security; 
  • China’s challenge and economic and security partnerships in Asia ; 
  • NATO and NATO PA partnerships, notably in the Western Balkans, partners at risk, opportunities for engagement with the Global South; 
  • climate change related and technological challenges and ways Allies should regulate and leverage new and emerging technologies, including AI; 
  • human security (including the protection of civilians and cultural heritage in conflict); and 
  • democratic resilience (including the challenge of disinformation).  

During the spring session, members will also discuss draft reports in the Assembly’s five Committees . 

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