The Standing Committee, the governing body of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA), concluded its early spring meeting in Athens today. Over 40 Allied parliamentarians discussed the Assembly’s response to Russia’s war against Ukraine and the steps the Alliance is taking to address the fundamentally changed security environment.
“We condemn Russia’s ongoing aggression in the strongest possible terms. We are determined to ensure that the crimes Russia and its soldiers commit will be punished,” President Gerald E. Connolly (US) told Ruslan Stefanchuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and Yehor Cherniev, the Head of the Ukrainian Associate Delegation to the NATO PA, who addressed the meeting by video.
The Standing Committee also heard from and discussed these matters with the President of the Hellenic Parliament, Constantine Tassoulas, and Greece’s Minister of National Defence, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.
The Standing Committee voiced its unwavering solidarity with Ukraine.
“We are committed to maintain and continue building a strong global coalition to support Ukraine with all possible assistance, including the sustained supply of military equipment and humanitarian assistance”, President Connolly stressed.
“We will maintain and increase massive, crippling and sustained sanctions for however long it takes”, he underlined, adding that Allied parliaments are playing their part: “we will not relent in our efforts to mobilize support.”
“Greece, from day one, strongly condemned Russia’s invasion and fully supports with all means Ukraine’s sovereignty, right to freedom and self-determination”, said the Head of the Greek delegation to the NATO PA, Spilios Livanos, who hosted the meeting.
Members also adopted a first draft of a declaration on Standing with Ukraine, presented by Michal Szczerba (Poland), Co-Chairperson of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council. Based on these discussions, President Connolly and Mr Szczerba released a statement on Ukraine.
The Standing Committee furthermore agreed to step up to assist Ukraine in the future, including through a NATO PA fund to support Ukraine’s democracy.
They also urged to begin to draw the long-term lessons of this war for NATO as well as for the Assembly. Russia’s war must be reflected in NATO’s new Strategic Concept, members agreed, through a reassessment of the underlying principles of Allied deterrence and defence as well as major shifts in posture.
“At the same time”, President Connolly noted, “it is important not to lose sight of the enduring threats and challenges to NATO’s founding purpose.”
The number one priority of the Assembly’s contribution to NATO’s next Strategic Concept is the reaffirmation of the underlying values and principles.
“These are the constants and should remain our compass in a shifting geostrategic environment,” said President Connolly. “Russia’s war in Ukraine only makes reaffirming our shared democratic values and setting up a Democratic Resilience Center at NATO Headquarters even more important.”
During the meeting, the Standing Committee also paid tribute to the late Marietta Giannakou, former Head of the Greek delegation, and NATO PA Vice-President.
Mr Livanos was appointed as acting Vice-President to carry out the remainder of Ms Giannakou’s mandate.
The NATO PA serves as the consultative interparliamentary organisation for the North Atlantic Alliance. It is institutionally separate and independent from NATO.
The Standing Committee is the Assembly’s governing body, composed of the Head of each member delegation, the President, the Vice-Presidents, the Treasurer and the Secretary General.
For an overview of the Assembly’s support for Ukraine, please see this page.
For an overview of the Assembly’s recommendations for NATO’s next Strategic Concept, please see here.
Photos of the meetings can be viewed here.