Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam (France), the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s outgoing President, bid farewell to the Assembly yesterday, as her mandate as a French Senator came to an end. Ms Garriaud-Maylam did not seek re-election in the 24 September French Senate elections.
Ms Garriaud-Maylam had been a member of the Assembly since 2008. She held a range of leadership roles in the Committee on Democracy and Security, serving successively as Rapporteur and Chairperson of its Sub-Committee and later of the full Committee, before being elected Vice-President of the Assembly in 2020 and President at the 2022 Annual Session in Madrid.
As President, Ms Garriaud-Maylam carried Allied parliamentarians’ voice at a critical moment for Euro-Atlantic security.
She continued to rally the Assembly around its resolute stance on Russia's unjustified and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine as well as on its unwavering support for Ukraine’s democracy, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, self-defence and self-determination.
“It was with pride and gravity that I conveyed our message of unwavering support to our Ukrainian friends during my last visit to Kyiv and Borodianka in February,” Ms Garriaud-Maylam noted in her farewell to the Assembly, in which she thanked the members for the trust they placed in her and for their commitment to the Assembly.
Equally important, she carried the Assembly’s message that, next to enhancing NATO’s deterrence and defence posture, the Alliance’s adaptation to a new era of strategic competition could not be complete without NATO operationalising its recommitment to shared democratic values.
These messages were central to her address to NATO’s Heads of State and Government during their 2023 Vilnius Summit, when she noted that NATO’s in-depth adaptation “rises to the challenge of the electroshock of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. It is also rooted – as it should be – in the defence of the fundamental values enshrined in the Washington Treaty: democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.”
“These values are what make NATO a unique alliance. These values are our strength; they unite us and inspire all those who wish to join us”, she told Allied leaders.
Ms Garriaud-Maylam also tirelessly supported the Assembly’s efforts to advance parliamentary ratification of Finland’s and Sweden’s membership applications and was the main proponent of the NATO PA’s Women for Peace and Security Award.
In the French Senate, Ms Garriaud-Maylam served as Secretary of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. She was also a vice-chair of the Senate delegation on women’s rights and equal opportunities and a board member of the French Institute for High Defence Studies (IHEDN).
NATO PA Vice-President Michał Szczerba (Poland) has now assumed the role as Acting President to fulfil the remainder of Ms Garriaud-Maylam’s mandate.
“I will stay the course”, Mr Szczerba said when assuming the role. “A more effective, powerful and united Assembly is my personal goal. Things do not happen. Things are made to happen. I rely on delegates’ personal endeavours, courage and leadership.”
Mr Szczerba is the Deputy Head of the Polish Delegation and has been a member of the Assembly for almost 15 years. Elected NATO PA Vice-President in 2022, he also serves as Rapporteur of the Sub-Committee on Transition and Development (ESCTD) of the Economics and Security Committee. Previously, he has held the position of Co-Chairperson of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) and ESCTD Chairperson. In the Polish Parliament, he is a Deputy Chairperson of the Senior Citizen Policy Committee and a member of the Human Rights and Justice Committee. He was also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.