Readying the Alliance for tomorrow’s challenges: NATO PA leaders discuss NATO 2030 with NATO Assistant Secretary General at GMF public event

25 November 2020

The newly elected President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Gerry Connolly (United States), and Vice-President Attila Mesterhazy, who preceded him as President, joined Ambassador Baiba Braze, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, for a discussion on NATO 2030: Today’s Alliance Readying for Tomorrow’s Challenges. The event was organised by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and moderated by GMF Senior Fellow for Security and Defense Bruno Lété. 

The event took place a day after the conclusion of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s 2020 Annual Session, where members discussed the future of the Alliance with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and adopted the declaration NATO 2030: A More United and Stronger Alliance on the Global Stage

“NATO is at a critical juncture,” said President Connolly. “The international power distribution has shifted fundamentally, and it is high time for NATO to revise its Strategic Concept to reflect this evolution,” he argued.

The new Strategic Concept must take into account Russia’s ongoing aggressive actions and, importantly, China’s rise. Author of a resolution on A Transatlantic Strategy on China, passed the previous day, President Connolly argued that “China’s unrelenting and rapid rise has threatened to upend the geopolitical landscape of the twenty-first century – not only in China’s neighbourhood, but globally.”

“We must also strengthen the Alliance internally,” he said. “NATO’s success over the past 70 years is not only due to its collective security and military capabilities, but also what fuels us internally: the common values we share. Today, the values upon which the Alliance has been founded are being challenged by external enemies of democracy and by internal proponents of illiberalism.”

Vice-President Mesterhazy chimed in and outlined the vision he laid out in the NATO 2030 declaration. “NATO must strengthen unity, cohesion, and solidarity, adapt to a rapidly evolving security environment, and ensure NATO plays its part in supporting global peace and stability,” he stressed.

He also addressed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and the Allied response. “One year ago, Allied leaders decided to launch a reflection process on ways to strengthen NATO further,” Vice-President Mesterhazy said. “They did not know then that this process would coincide with the most serious, profound, and wide-ranging crisis which our societies and economies have known in decades.”

“This pandemic has also confirmed that our nations must learn to better confront a number of new dynamics and new challenges,” he went. “COVID-19 is a security issue.”

During her remarks, Ambassador Braze stressed that NATO must continue to tackle traditional threats and challenges, like Russia’s ongoing violations of international law and aggressive actions in Europe. 

However, NATO had no choice but to deal with emerging threats and challenges as well: from cyber and hybrid operations to the adverse effects of climate change; from disruptive technologies to potential use of space as a hostile environment; and from challenges to the resilience of Allied societies to a China that does not share liberal democratic values underpinning the Alliance and actions undermining the international rules-based order.