International Seminar: NATO facing the future

Madrid, 25 october de 2004

With the sponsorship of: Spanish Institute for Strategy Studies (IEEE), Ministry of Defence and Embassy of the United States of America. Madrid (Hotel Meliá Galgos)

The seminar began with opening remarks from José Lladó, President of INCIPE and Ambassador of Spain, followed by Admiral Francisco Torrente, Secretary General for Defence Policy (Spanish Ministry of Defence), and lastly by Jean Fournet, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy. After thanking the participants, Ambassador José Lladó stressed the importance of looking for consensus and solidarity while addressing the challenges facing NATO. He named globalization as “the force that would help us to accept diversity and to find a common ethic”.

Admiral Francisco Torrente continued this sentiment by describing NATO as currently in an area of change, in which it must search for “an appropriate response and develop capabilities that match today’s challenges”. He described this process as part of NATO’s constant adaptation. The key components include trust in the principles and values of the allied countries, and the adaptation to different variables in the strategic environment, said Admiral Torrente.

Jean Fournet then addressed the title of the conference—“NATO facing the future”. From his public diplomacy perspective, this title conveys: “energy, dynamism and opened-mindedness”. He also discussed the evolution of NATO since the Cold War in terms of three dichotomies. Since 1945, NATO has gone from having static to dynamic alliances, from balancing to fighting against terrorism, and from keeping the peace to actively shaping the peace. He now sees NATO as playing a vital role in developing international security, maintaining the transatlantic relationship, fostering complementarities between nations and acting as an agent of change.

Panel I: “The enlarged NATO: strategic consequences, contribution of the new members and NATO’s open door policy”

This panel featured Ambassador Boyko Noev of the Center for the Study of Democracy in Sofia, Adjunct professor Thomas Mahnken of Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities, Robert Weaver, the Head of Country Relations with Political Affairs of NATO (PASP), and Herman Tertsch, Journalist for El País newspaper. Chairman of the discussion was Julián García Vargas, the President of the Spanish Atlantic Association and Former Spanish Defence Minister.

Ambassador Boyko Noev opened the round table by relating the experience of Bulgaria, in both their sorrows in missing the latest round of enlargement and inspiration to join in the next. He then compared NATO and EU enlargement as having similar objective strategies and as both aspiring towards the consolidation of democracy and market reform. He sees the potential for membership into both groups as a stimulus for international change and the acceptance of common rules. This being the case, the open door policy is capable of pushing political elites in south-eastern Europe to reform their policies and bring more transparency to the government. While the EU may not be ready to tackle the addition of more south-eastern countries, Ambassador Noev encouraged NATO to consider the addition of Serbia and Croatia.

In his address of the transatlantic relationship, Ambassador Noev claimed that the gap between the United States and the European Union is a result of the more advanced social economic system of the US (in its fungibility into military power), the incompatibility of the demographic structures, and the lingering issue of EU sovereignty. Ambassador Noev concluded that relations with the US slow EU development, especially in a time where the EU desperately needs credible military power to support their economic growth.

Boyko Noev next discussed the nature of threats facing NATO. He specifically mentioned the spill-over from Africa and the Middle East as well as the terrorism harboured in their failed states. He believes the greatest danger lies in the potential for terrorists to obtain weapons of mass-destruction. In order to combat terrorism, Ambassador Noev made three suggestions: first, that the transatlantic alliance agrees that the world is in more danger now that it was during the Cold War; second, that the US recognizes that “it can win the battle but not the war”, and finally, that NATO’s capacity should be fortified through defence reform and more specialized divisions of labour.

Professor Thomas Mahnken opened his portion of the round table by stating “the NATO of today is not your father’s NATO”. He said that, whereas fifteen years ago NATO was not expected to survive, the fall of the Berlin Wall, today it plays a key role in the European Union and in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. NATO has also recently added ten countries, raising its composition to 40% former Warsaw Pact members. This shifts the gravity of NATO to the south and east. As the new members have suffered under tyranny, NATO will have a stronger moral clarity.

According to Mahnken, the transatlantic alliance faces three challenges: the disparity between US and EU capabilities, the potential for a EU defence force, and the perception gap. In terms of capabilities, the US leads the world in exploitation of the military information wave. Although there have been some developments in EU technology (such as the successful use of British capabilities in Iraq), the gap continues to grow, along with the under-funding of NATO. Professor Mahnken believes that the subsequent propped-up relationship is very unhealthy, and that the EU and US should collaborate in selective areas in order to improve it. Potential areas for such collaboration are counter terrorism technology, post-conflict expertise (i.e. the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq) and counter-proliferation.

Lastly, Thomas Mahnken expressed his concern over the transatlantic perception gap. Despite 50 years of common experience, widespread misunderstanding between Europe and the United States still exists. Professor Mahnken believes that frequently the symptom is falsely attributed to be the cause. As an example, he states that while the muscular foreign policy and overt religious foundation of the US are often attributed to the Republican Party, these beliefs are in fact deeply entrenched in American society. Mahnken concluded his presentation by encouraging all to “defend the transatlantic relationship!”.

Robert Weaver, as a NATO representative, followed Manhken by methodically relating seven strategic gains of enlargement (in honour of the seven new members). Firstly, again has been made in the enhancement of security and stability. By including new nations, NATO increases their self-confidence as Western democracies. Secondly, NATO has driven values in the direction of democracy. The tough conditions of membership have and will continue to push reluctant leaders to lessen corruption and develop their reform efforts. Thirdly, enlargement has fostered good governance by bringing credibility to the defence sector and by allocating funds to specific objectives. Fourthly, NATO has pledged to keep WMD and combat forces out of new countries, meaning that there will be only a minimal security presence in each new country. Fifthly, NATO has greatly increased its diversity. The organization now includes 26 members and 20 partners from all regions of the world. Sixthly, NATO has improved relations with Russia. After September 11th, Russia assessed its common interests with NATO and made plans for peace-keeping missions and civil emergencies. The seventh and final gain is that relations with the EU have been reinforced. Despite the competitive nature between the EU and NATO, the number of common members between them has increased, which will positively affect the security landscape. Weaver ended his discussion by affirming NATO’s commitment to the open door policy and his belief in its widespread benefits.

Herman Tertsch was the final speaker on the topic of enlargement. He began by celebrating the successful addition of seven new members. He then addressed “the Alliance of Atlanticism”. Tertsch first related the joke that “to the United States, NATO is but a cyst in the Pentagon”. Europe and the United States have conflicting attitudes because they both see themselves as morally superior. In order to overcome this, both parties must recognize common interests and develop a shared sense of direction. Tertsch thinks that, without this alliance, Europe cannot ensure its security, and therefore, it is especially important.

The discussion next moved to address Russia’s presence in Europe. Tertsch believes that although Putin is skilful in international relations, his objectives are far removed from the principles of NATO. Putin relies heavily on the Soviet based “totalization” of power, which has potential to become even more extreme in the case that the Russia economy stagnates. Tertsch extended this and expressed his concern for political instability in the Balkans. If this region is integrated into NATO, it would be possible to rebuild the fabric and resolve conflicting national interests. Tertsch also drew attention to the Ukraine, as a large, complex country with the potential for stability, but lacking a sound legal foundation for democracy. He ended his discussion by encouraging everyone to listen carefully to the opinions of new NATO members.

Panel II: “International Response against Terrorism”

This panel featured George Argyros, Ambassador of United States of America to Spain; Major General Mohamed Kadry Said of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in El Cairo; and Ambassador Javier Rupérez, Executive Director of the UN
Counter-Terrorism Committee. Chairman of the discussion was Rafael Calduch, Professor and Head of International Relations at Complutense University in Madrid.

Ambassador George Argyros began the round table discussion by describing the United States’ reaction to terrorism. He stated that the main concern of the United States is to find an appropriate response that matches the nature and necessity of the current situation. Argyros affirmed the United States’ strong stance, which incorporates military action when necessary. He supported this by characterizing Islamic terrorists as murderous extremists who subscribe to the ideology of nihilism. For this reason, Argyros believes the United States should disrupt and destroy terrorist networks and fully support the growth of free nations.

Major General Mohamed Kadry Said shared the Egyptian experience with terrorism, which provided an interesting point of contrast to the previous US perspective. The most recent terrorist attack in Egypt took place two weeks ago with a hotel bombing that killed 34 people. One-third of those killed were Egyptians and another third were Israelis. While speculations have been made that either anti-Israeli forces or Al-Qaeda carried out the attack, the responsible party is still unknown. From this attack and others, General Said cited two lessons to be learned. The first was that cooperation between other countries in the same region is imperative. He stressed the importance of demonstrating a collective resolve against terrorism. The second lesson was that border security between Israel and Egypt should be readdressed. While the Camp David Agreement has been successful for many years, now would be a good time to consider modification.

On a broader scale, General Said believes that NATO should focus on preventing the proliferation of WMD, given the catastrophic potential. This issue is of particular concern to Egypt, as Israel owns nuclear weapons and Iran is making an attempt to acquire them. Along the same line, NATO should extend its presence in the Middle East in order to change the prevalent perspective of NATO as merely a western military organization.

General Said also shared his perspective of the United States’ involvement in Iraq. He thinks that the United States is mistaken in their perception of terrorism. Terrorists will not change their system of beliefs and objectives. Moreover, given that terrorist groups
penetrate many environments, the United States should look for ways to positively reshape these environments, instead of direct attacks on terrorists. In this respect, the founding principle of the reconstruction effort in Iraq should be to gain the hearts and minds of the Iraqis, which in practice General Said believes is a principle that the US has not respected.

In closing, he called for the rethinking of cooperation. General Said sees cooperation, as a strategy and as a process; not as a moral value. Terrorism is a complex problem that calls for new understanding. In order to properly combat it, unilateral attitudes should be cast aside and relationships enhanced with the sharing of intelligence and technology.

Although the contrasting perspectives of Ambassador Argyros and General Said polarized the discussion of terrorism, Ambassador Javier Rupérez brought a more global perspective to the table. He began by pointing out that the terrorism debate has been going on for years in the UN, long before the attacks of September 11th. For instance, in 1990 the United Nations ratified Resolution 1260, which catalogued the measures and sanctions to be taken against terrorist groups. Immediately after the September 11th attacks, the UN placed terrorism at the forefront of their agenda. In October of 2001, the UN ratified their cornerstone anti-terrorism resolution and established Anti-Terrorism committee.

Ambassador Rupérez acknowledged the dependency of the UN on the will of its members and subsequent problem of compliance. However, he still believes that the UN plays a critical role in the fight against terrorism. To support this, he gave examples of UN achievements, including the establishment of a fund to help victims of terrorist attacks, the creation of a clear and mandatory doctrine defining terrorism, the stimulation of state dialogue, and the growth of international consensus and collaboration.

Panel III: “The Enhancement of the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative”

This panel featured John H. Sandrock, Director of the International Security Program in the Atlantic Council of Washington D.C.; Pascal Boniface, Director of the International Relations and Strategic Institute of Paris (IRIS); Mustafa Aydin, Associate Professor in International Relations at Ankara University, and Alberto Bin, Head of Regional Affairs and Mediterranean Dialogue of NATO (PASP). The chairman of this discussion was Juan Prat, Ambassador in Special Mission for Mediterranean Issues – Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

John Sandrock began his presentation by briefly describing the evolution of Euro-Mediterranean relations in the past ten years. The OSCE began an active Mediterranean program in the early 1990s in the face of pressing Middle Eastern problems. Since then, the dialogue between the two regions has increased, fostering growth in capabilities and a feeling of common interest. Most recently, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was formulated in June of 2004. Issues jointly addressed by NATO and Turkey included: counterterrorism, non-proliferation, border security, anti-trafficking, disaster preparedness, defence reform and military interoperability.

Sandrock assured that NATO should be selective in its dialogue with the Middle East and target countries rather than catering to all seven. This strategy will help to expand and control the Mediterranean dialogue. He specifically suggests that NATO should engage Libya given their recent dramatic changes in political thought, so as to encourage closer integration. He also listed Syria, the GCC states, Iran and Yemen as important future players in the Middle Eastern dialogue. Sandrock addressed the Arab-Israeli problem by appealing to NATO to renew their multilateral peacekeeping efforts. In his opinion, the long-term festering of this problem is unacceptable.

Finally John Sandrock directed the discussion to terrorism. He described terrorism as the other side to globalisation, in which actors aspire to inflict mass fear and lack rationality or clear political objectives. He acknowledged the differing in opinions of terrorism worldwide, especially in the distrust of the United States’ policies, but believes that common understanding and consensus can be reached.

Pascal Boniface continued the discussion by describing the relationship between terrorism and the Mediterranean Dialogue. The fight against terrorism is a crucial component, but the dialogue must be greater and not monopolized by NATO. Boniface favourably views the Istanbul Initiative. This cooperation effort smoothed disagreements and helps to improve the unsatisfactory situation in the Middle East. Boniface, however, has mixed feelings about the current situation in Turkey. Although Turkey is a republican parliamentary democracy, it lacks the social participation of its citizens, a strong educational system and women’s rights. Turkey will be a challenge for NATO, because while the NATO’s aim is to fortify democratic nations, democratization is also necessarily organic. Boniface stressed that democracy is not exportable, especially not by bombs.

Mustafa Aydin was the next speaker in the roundtable. He first pointed out that while NATO registered in the early 1990s that the Mediterranean and Middle East were increasing in their treat, it was not until after September 11th that the Mediterranean dialogue became a priority. Now that the Russian and Balkans Initiatives have passed, the focus of NATO is shifting southward to include the greater Middle East (i.e. North Africa). Professor Aydin stated that stabilization of this region is crucial and should more firmly into NATO’s agenda. In terms of Iraq, almost all NATO countries agree that failure to reconstruct a viable state would be a disaster for all. Mustafa Aydin gave three options for extension of NATO’s outreach in the Middle East: NATO membership, strengthened relations with dialogue countries and the use of soft-power initiatives, and the deepening of dialogue with all seven countries to eventually create partnerships. All of these options would aim to promote democratic control and political transparency.

Aydyn also gave four principles that form the basis for this process: close consultation before making decisions, self-differentiation of countries, assured complementarity of initiatives with each nation, and the expansion of dialogue on a case-by-case basis. Professor Aydin believes that NATO can help the Middle East in defence reform, budgeting and planning with the objective of increasing their cooperation. He also proposes a 26+1 approach in order to work on an individual basis with nations. This is given the volatility of the Middle East and the fragility of their relations with NATO. In terms of NATO’s Middle Eastern policy, Aydin proposes the wholehearted support of the strengthening of democracy from within the regime. The West should be ready to support both top-down and bottom-down democratic reforms. NATO should also promote both, a peaceful and stable external environment to protect democracy at the domestic level. In this case, instability abroad could no longer be an excuse not to implement domestic reform. As a final suggestion, Aydin recommended that the United States and Europe work together to build a common strategy for democratization. This can be done by increasing regional expertise and moving beyond outdated models, concluded professor Aydin.

The final roundtable speaker was Alberto Bin. He began his discussion by acknowledging the proactive role Spain played in directing attention to the Middle East in the early 1990s. The Mediterranean officially began dialogue in 1994 with the inclusion of Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania and Egypt. The founding goal was to establish a relationship of mutual confidence between NATO and Mediterranean nations in the hope of expelling misconceptions of NATO as a military block. Alberto Bin stressed the importance of perceptions in international relations and that the essence of security is its interdependence.

Finally, Bin addressed the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and its unique strategic importance. He commended the multilateral (26+7) and bilateral (26+1) dimensions of the initiative. He also described NATO as being the only place in which Israelis have discussed cooperation with their Arab counterparts, and in which partnerships with realistic aims for peace have been reached. For the same reason, the offer made by NATO in Istanbul was well received. The initiative has three enduring principles as highlighted by Bin. First principle is practical cooperation. NATO has the potential to add value to national security systems by offering advice, cooperation and reform. The second principle is to involve partners in the process of ownership. This way they can better understand their security needs and NATO can better tailor its programs. The third principle is complementarity. This consists of a multi-institutional effort in which all players, in politics, economics and security, should be engaged.

Alberto Bin closed his discussion by reaffirming the obligations of all member states to meet their words with deeds and to contribute their fair share of resources. His final comment was that as a citizen of Spain, belongs to the European Union (a political organization) and is also a participant in NATO (a military organization), in order to illustrate the complementary—rather than “conflictual”—relationship between these two bodies.

Closing Session and organisational issues

The seminar was closed with remarks from Professor Vicente Garrido, Director of INCIPE, followed by Bernardino León, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Iberoamerica –Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. The State Secretary stressed the importance of this kind of initiatives and NATO’s role in promoting peace and stability around the world, especially in Afghanistan, whit the celebration of the first democratic elections.

After then, the President of INCIPE, Ambassador José Lladó, made a final statement, comparing the world situation during the Cold War with the present moment as well as how NATO was forced to change to adapt itself to the new situation. Finally, Lladó
referred to the necessity of cooperation and to the importance of dialogue between north and south as the best form to avoid the “class of civilisations” and to avoid misunderstandings.

More than 120 people attended the Seminar. Apart from the official program, during the Seminar a working-lunch on “NATO’s role in Afghanistan” was held with NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Mr. Jean Fournet, to which 50 inviters attended.


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