The Mediterranean Dialogue is based upon the twin pillars of political dialogue and practical cooperation.
The Mediterranean Cooperation Group (MCG), established at the Madrid Summit in July 1997 under the supervision of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), had the overall responsibility for the Mediterranean Dialogue, until it was replaced in 2011 by the Political and Partnerships Committee, which is responsible for all partnerships. The Committee meets at the level of Political Counsellors on a regular basis to discuss all matters related to the Dialogue including its further development.
Political consultations in the NATO+1 format are held on a regular basis both at Ambassadorial and working level. These discussions provide an opportunity for sharing views on a range of issues relevant to the security situation in the Mediterranean, as well as on the further development of the political and practical cooperation dimensions of the Dialogue.
Meetings in the NATO+7 format, including NAC+7 meetings, are also held on a regular basis, in particular following the NATO Summit and Ministerial meetings, Chiefs-of-Defence meetings, and other major NATO events. These meetings represent an opportunity for two-way political consultations between NATO and MD partners.
At the June 2004 Istanbul Summit, NATO’s Heads of State and Government elevated the MD to a genuine partnership through the establishment of a more ambitious and expanded framework, which considerably enhanced both the MD’s political and practical cooperation dimensions.
Since then, the constant increase in the number and quality of the NATO-MD political dialogue has recently reached a sustainable level. Consultations of the 28 Allies and seven MD countries take place on a regular basis on a bilateral and multilateral level, at Ministerial, Ambassadorial and working level formats. That has also included three meetings of the NATO and MD Foreign Ministers in December 2004, 2007 and 2008 in Brussels. Two meetings of NATO and MD Defense Ministers in 2006 and 2007 in Taormina, Italy and Seville, Spain. Ten meetings of the Chief of Defense of NATO and MD countries have also take place so far. The first ever NAC+7 meeting took place in Rabat, Morocco, in 2006 and, more recenty, the first MD Policy Advisory Goup meeting with all seven MD partners took place in San Remo, Italy, on 15-16 September 2011.
The political dimension also includes visits by NATO Senior Officials, including the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General, to Mediterranean Dialogue countries. The main purpose of these visits is to conduct high-level political consultations with the relevant host authorities on the way forward in NATO's political and practical cooperation under the Mediterranean Dialogue.
The new Strategic Concept, which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in November 2011, identifies cooperative security as one of three key priorities for the Alliance, and constitutes an opportunity to move partnerships to the next generation. Mediterranean Dialogue partners were actively involved in the debate leading to its adoption.
The Strategic Concept refers specifically to the MD, stating that: “We are firmly committed to the development of friendly and cooperative relations with all countries of the Mediterranean, and we intend to further develop the Mediterranean Dialogue in the coming years. We will aim to deepen the cooperation with current members of the Mediterranean Dialogue and be open to the inclusion in the Mediterranean Dialogue of other countries of the region.”
MD partners have reiterated their support for enhanced political consultations to better tailor the MD to their specific interests and to maintain the distinctive cooperation framework of the MD.