Bratislava, 3 June 2019 – NATO nations must remain wary of attacks on the Alliance’s shared values and resolutely defend their democratic institutions and election processes from potential adversaries like Russia, top NATO, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and Slovak officials warned Monday.
Winding up the NATO PA’s Spring Session in the Slovak capital Bratislava, the officials underlined the importance of maintaining Alliance unity and keeping NATO’s door open to aspiring members likely to complement or help complete the transatlantic security umbrella.
“These values must remain our compass going forward,” NATO PA President Madeleine Moon told the assembly and Slovak officials. “We must uphold and protect them, and resolutely counter any attempts by others to undermine the democratic foundations of our societies and institutions.”
Moon said the 29-nation Alliance is fit for purpose on its 70th anniversary, a “resilient and adaptable tool” to confront “an uncooperative and aggressive Russia; ongoing instability across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia,” as well as threats from terrorism, cyber and hybrid warfare.
She played down disagreements among the Allies, saying they are neither new nor insurmountable.
“Differences between us are largely tactical – how to address today’s challenges – rather than strategic – over what the challenges are. Our discussions over the last three days have shown that our nations overwhelmingly agree on the nature of the threats,” Moon said.
NATO Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy Alejandro Alvargonzález highlighted what he described as “deeply disturbing” behaviour by Russia aimed at undermining the foundation of transatlantic democracies.
“To some of our adversaries, it is not our armed forces that they would like to defeat. It is our democratic model,” he said. “Their concern is that freedom and the prosperity it brings could be tempting for their citizens, and the will of those citizens could be bad news for them.”
He noted NATO’s deteriorating ties with Russia over Ukraine and missile defence, but also pointed to cyberattacks on Western infrastructure, the use of social media to massively spread fake news, and attempts “to discredit democracy as a valid, as a legitimate, as an efficient political principle.”
In a new era full of uncertainty, “we simply can no longer take our peace and our democracy for granted,” the ambassador added.
Slovakia’s President Andrej Kiska pointed to countries whose democracies and societies have already come under attack from Russia, like Georgia and Ukraine, and said “it must be our priority” to ensure that these countries realise their Euro-Atlantic ambitions.
“It is our moral duty to offer our aspirants a vision that one day they would sit with us at one table,” Kiska told the assembly. “Without them, our security will not be complete.”
Over four days in Bratislava, parliamentarians from NATO countries and partners also discussed issues like the terror threat in Africa, border security, China, and the security implications of working with its tech companies on next generation communications technology.
Using feedback from the lawmakers, rapporteurs will develop the recommendations made in several draft reports and present them at the NATO PA’s next Annual Session in London on October 11-14 for endorsement. The final recommendations will then be shared with members of the political-military Alliance.