Russia relations, tech challenges top agenda at NATO PA Bratislava meeting

30 May 2019

Bratislava, 30 May 2019 - Parliamentarians from NATO and partner nations gather in Slovakia this weekend to assess the military Alliance’s readiness to confront an assertive Russia and debate security implications of new communications technologies amid concern over China’s growing tech influence.

The May 31-June 3 NATO Parliamentary Assembly Spring Session in Bratislava will also examine the looming demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty and its impact on NATO’s deterrence posture.

Lawmakers will also weigh NATO’s fitness for purpose as the Alliance celebrates the 70th anniversary of its founding Washington Treaty.

Another issue will be the effects on NATO’s democratic values of the changing political landscape across North America and Europe in the wake of last weekend’s European Parliament elections.

“During its 70 years, NATO kept the Cold War cold and then extended the warm hand of friendship to its former adversaries and promoted stability in the wider Europe. NATO’s 70th anniversary must be an opportunity to look ahead and to anticipate where the next challenges might come from and how our defence and NATO must continue to adapt going forward”, NATO PA President Madeleine Moon (United Kingdom) commented ahead of the meeting, adding “Our shared values, as always, will be the compass that guides our way forward and our protection from those who would wish to undermine our democratic way of life.”

Over the four days, senior Slovak officials will join experts and almost 250 delegates from the 29 NATO nations - plus 22 associate and observer countries.

NATO-Russia relations and Moscow’s destabilising effect in Ukraine will be the focus of several draft reports under debate. Ties have deteriorated significantly since Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014 and subsequently launched disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining public trust in NATO countries.

An assessment by Canadian lawmaker Raynell Andreychuck predicts the Kremlin is unlikely to change tack as it pursues a “revisionist approach and wants to establish a different international order.”

Ukraine, meanwhile, is struggling to protect its territory and sovereignty. Two weeks after the inauguration of newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky, deputies will also examine Ukraine’s domestic priorities, including implementation of vital democratically-oriented reforms and efforts to root out endemic corruption.

The hi-tech challenge posed by China will be up for debate as NATO Allies seek common ground on the role of Chinese companies in the roll out of 5G systems and the security implications of their growing influence on the development of communication infrastructure.

Other draft reports will focus on cyber threats to the Alliance and the proper collective response, as well as the opportunities and challenges of advances in artificial intelligence.

NATO PA President Madeleine Moon, Secretary General David Hobbs and Slovak Delegation head Martin Fedor will open proceedings on the eve of the Spring Session with a news conference in Bratislava Castle on Friday May 31 at 11am local time (CET).

NATO PA brings together national parliament members from Allies as well as partner countries, observers and organisations. It is an essential link between the Alliance and member parliaments - and therefore with citizens in the Euro-Atlantic area.

Photos of the session are public and can be found on the NATO PA Flickr account.
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