Russia tensions, counterterror efforts top NATO PA agenda in Poland

24 May 2018

Warsaw, 24 May 2018 - Parliamentarians from NATO and partner nations gather in Poland this week to study ways to counter the challenges posed by Russia, meet NATO’s military spending targets and support anti-terror operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, just weeks before the Alliance’s next summit.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, senior cabinet members and military officers, the head of the European Union’s border guard agency and top international experts will be involved in four days of debate starting on Friday in Warsaw during the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Spring Session.

The Assembly aims to send a message of unity ahead of the July 11-12 summit of NATO’s 29 heads of state and government in Brussels and as trans-Atlantic relations have been strained by dffferences over trade, the future of the Iran nuclear deal and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In draft reports to be examined in Poland - which hosts part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence deterrence force - the lawmakers will focus on the continued threat posed by Russia, including its misinformation campaigns and election meddling.

Defence budgets will be under the spotlight. Allies turned around decades of defence cuts in 2014 after Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. They have begun to move toward spending 2 percent of GDP on defence by 2024, but some still must present action plans laying out how they will get there.

“Because we bring together parliamentarians with direct responsibility over defence budgets, our Assembly has a key role in building consensus around a fairer sharing of the burden for our common defence,” NATO PA President Paolo Alli said ahead of the Spring Session. “This is an issue of both military effectiveness and political solidarity”.

The Alliance’s operation in Iraq to help develop military schools and academies, as well as train and advise instructors there, is also up for discussion. As part of NATO’s continued fight against terrorism and to ensure Daesh does not regain a foothold on its southern flank, allies are preparing to send several hundred more trainers into the country. Leaders are set to announce the move in July.

NATO’s 15-year presence in Afghanistan - its biggest and most ambitious undertaking, now exemplified by the training mission Resolute Support - is also in the spotlight in a draft report examining local and regional security. It comes just as the Kabul government has made an unprecedented offer to the Taliban to get them to lay down their guns and enter peace talks.

Iran, North Korea, energy security, defence innovation, security in the Balkans, the role of special operations forces, security implications of Brexit and future of the space industry are also up for debate among almost 250 delegates from the 29 NATO nations - plus 22 associate and observer countries.

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