NATO partnerships discussed at Strategic Concept Seminar in Norway
The third key seminar on NATO’s new Strategic Concept concluded in Oslo on 14 January. The event, entitled “NATO’s Partnerships and Beyond”, brought together members of the Group of Experts, government and military officials, representatives of international organisations and NGOs, independent experts and journalists.
Most significantly, apart from 28 NATO Allies, there was a high level of participation from NATO partner and contact countries – members of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperative Initiative, NATO-Russia Council and other cooperation fora.
“NATO’s partnerships are now more important than ever to the Alliance,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, in his opening remarks. “NATO’s cooperation with partners has been a success and has increased tremendously in depth and scope. But this success also defines our current challenges. We need your inputs on how to reenergise our partnerships.“
Dr Madeleine Albright Chairs the Group of Experts on NATO’s new Strategic Concept. Partnerships, she said at the opening session, “is central to any realistic vision of NATO’s future. The passing years have created the need for a NATO of greater flexibility and reach, and we have learned that partnerships can act as force and efficiency multiplier."
In concluding the seminar, Norwegian Defence Minister Grete Faremo said: “It is my hope that the new Strategic Concept can help to renew and adapt NATO’s partnership structures by engaging allies and partners alike in a constructive discussion on how to further develop our cooperation.”
Participants clearly shared the view that partnerships have been a success story, contributing significantly to the building of a new international order of dialogue and cooperation. Many stressed a crucial burden-sharing aspect, illustrated by the fact of several partner countries are contributing to the International Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) and the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR).
A number of creative suggestions were made on ways to improve both the political consultation and practical cooperation dimensions of different partnerships.
The Oslo seminar was hosted by Norway and co-organised by Germany, Romania and Spain. Leading think tanks from those four countries played a vital role in ensuring a high-quality, lively discussion during the three debating sessions.
The next and final key seminar will take place in Washington D.C. at the end of February.