NATO PA President, Head of Spanish delegation: supporting Ukraine is defending democratic values

19 November 2022

NATO must stand firm in its support for Ukraine’s resistance to Russian aggression as the war underscores the necessity of defending the Alliance’s democratic values, Gerald E. Connolly, President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly insisted Saturday.

At the Assembly’s annual session in Madrid, Connolly told reporters that the almost 300 lawmakers attending would “reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their struggle.”

The US Congressman said Russia’s war showed the importance of NATO’s watertight security guarantees and the decision this summer to renew the Alliance’s Strategic Concept, giving added priority to defence and deterrence on the eastern flank.

By standing firm alongside Ukraine, the Allies will thwart the Kremlin’s ambitions, Connolly asserted.  “That collective resolve will ultimately prevail in partnership with the Ukrainian people against this depravity that Vladimir Putin has unleashed in central Europe.”

The NATO PA draws together members of parliaments from the 30 NATO Allies and from partner nations, serving as a vital bridge between citizens and the Alliance. The meeting in the Spanish capital is due to wrap up Monday with contributions from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

The head of Spain’s delegation to the Assembly joined Connolly in condemning Russia’s war against Ukraine.  

“A tyrant wants to impose his principles on a free democracy, war crimes are being committed,” Zaida Cantera, told their joint news conference. “Let’s make no mistake, they are not shelling military targets, they are shelling houses, schools, hospitals, clinics, museums, water reserves and electricity stations with the only goal of making the civilian population suffer.”

Russia’s war on Ukraine has given added urgency to the Assembly’s call for NATO to establish a Centre for Democratic Resilience at Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Connolly noted.

“We need to move beyond a rhetorical commitment to democratic shared values, we need to create architecture within NATO that operationalises that commitment,” he said. “We can’t only be a military alliance; we are more than that. We are a military alliance for a reason: to protect and defend democratic society, and the need for that couldn’t be more obvious as we watch events unfold in Ukraine.”

 Connolly and Cantera also expressed support for Georgia’s aspirations for closer euro-Atlantic integration and highlighted Spain’s key role in the NATO Alliance.

Support for Ukraine topped the agenda over the four-days of talks in Madrid, but the Assembly will also debate topics reflecting NATO’s 360º approach to security. Lawmakers are expected to adopt resolutions on subjects including impact of corruption on security; cyber resilience; and the security implications of climate change.

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