English Section 06/05/2016

What was the most important news about NATO over the last couple of months and why?

All in all, these developments are more than crucial not only for the establishment of peace and security in international level, but also for NATO’s future role in the international ‘chessboard’.

Since the end of the Cold War, security has not been defined by the military power but by a multidimensional concept instead. Under these circumstances, NATO should be adapted to the new security environment. The Alliance’s new strategic goals are summarized to the creation of a community building, application of democratic principles and national sovereignty in the military powers. Regarding the recent developments, NATO continues to follow its post-cold war strategy, trying to build mutual understanding and trust (1).

To begin with, after the annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea on 2014 and the deterioration of relations between Russia and West, the first formal meeting of the NATO-Russia Council was held so as to exchange views (2). Topics included discussions on Ukraine and other issues and improved ‘mechanisms of risk reduction related to military activities’. NATO Secretary General stated that both sides ‘disagree on the facts, the narrative and the responsibilities’ in Ukraine, although these statements cannot underestimate the importance of these ‘communication channels’ and the results they can bring if the discussion between two sides continue’. (3)

Another important and challenging task for the Alliance is to address the refugee and migration crisis in the Mediterranean, one of the most serious refugee crisis since the World War II era. Almost two months ago, Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) arrived in the Aegean Sea and conducted reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance in the Greek, Turkish territorial and international waters as well. NATO is recognizing the importance of managing this refugee and migrant crisis and is trying to facilitate closer cooperation between the relevant actors such as EU, FRONTEX, coastguards and other national authorities in Greece and Turkey (4). Moreover, an alliance within SNMG2 will promote the strengthening and the exchange of information, providing critical information, detecting migrant boats, cutting the lines of illegal trafficking, assisting in terms of resources in search and rescue of people who are in distress at seas.

All in all, these developments are more than crucial not only for the establishment of peace and security in international level, but also for NATO’s future role in the international ‘chessboard’. Regarding the situation in Ukraine, as the formal meeting at Alliance headquarters proved, NATO can create a platform in order to enhance the exchange of opinions and the promotion of good relations between the Russia and West. During this meeting probably two sides were unable to find a common ground, although this is only the beginning and this can be confirmed by the NATO Secretary General Mr. Stoltenberg who mentioned ‘when tensions are high, I think the need for open channels, for political dialogue, for predictability, for transparency, is even more important’. (5)

From the other side, another destabilizing factor for the whole international community is the refugee and migration crisis, taken place in the Mediterranean area. NATO has a significant presence in the region, contributing effectively to manage the crisis and tackle trafficking and smuggling networks. NATO, by avoiding a ‘strategic irrelevance’ is always present and tries to respond in any challenge identified as a destabilizing factor in the international security environment. In order to enhance its role, NATO cannot be a ‘distant viewer’, especially concerning threats which are on the top of the international security agenda.

*The above article is submitted for the purposes of NATO Summer School 2016, in Měřín, Czech Republic

*Written by Evmorfia-Chrysovalantou Seiti, graduate of the Master’s Program ‘’Political, Economic and International Relations in the Mediterranean’’, Department of Mediterranean Studies, University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece.

1. ‘How NATO has changed in the post cold war era’, Fact Sheet, Prepared and compiled by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs, State Department) (1960) March 21, 1997 Posted by the United States Information Service, Retrieved May 5, 2016, available at https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/natousis.htm

2. ‘Relations with Russia’, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Last updated: 15 Apr. 2016, Retrieved May 5, 2016 available at  http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_50090.htm 

3. ‘Doorstep Statement’, by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the NATO-Russia Council meeting, April 20, 2016, Retrieved May 5, 2016, available at  http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_129999.htm

4. Standing NATO Maritime Groups’, Maritime Command, Retrieved May 5, 2016, available at http://www.mc.nato.int/org/smg/Pages/default.aspx

5. US to object to Russian military aggression at first Nato meeting for two years', April 21, 2016, Retrieved May 5, 2016, available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/20/us-to-object-to-russian-military-agression-at-first-nato-meeting/
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