Ukrainian parliamentarians host roundtable discussions about emerging security challenges

  • 15 Feb. 2012 -
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  • Last updated: 02 Mar. 2012 10:50

The European Integration Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine jointly with the NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Ukraine initiated a roundtable discussion entitled Responding to Emerging Security Threats and Challenges in the 21st Century, which took place in the Ukrainian Parliament on 15 February 2012.

Members of parliament, state officials, representatives of NATO member and partner embassies, as well as military experts and representatives of the civil society, communicated via VTC with senior NATO officials in Brussels.

The Ukrainian audience listened to Dr Jamie Shea, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, speak aboutKey Challenges to Security in the 21st Century: A View from NATO. Ludwig Decamps, expert from the Defence Investment Division’s Smart Defence Direct Support Team, explained NATO’s Smart Defence initiative.

An evolving world means evolving security challenges

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Borys Tarasiuk, Chairman of the European Integration Committee, stressed that the emerging challenges of the 21st century bring new security issues. “The world radically evolves and so do the security challenges, which reflect hi-tech achievements,” he noted.

Natalia Nemyliwska, Director of the NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Ukraine,echoed his remarks,saying that “The world is a changing place and the security landscape with it. Our globe is facing new challenges and threats not only centred around problems we are confronted with at home, but piracy, weapons of mass destruction, threats of terrorism, etc.”

“We are living in a globalized and inter-connected world where problems in one particular region can have serious implications and consequences for all of us, even if we are not directly and immediately affected. And here, we cannot operate alone - partnerships are important,” added Nemyliwska, while explaining the importance of international cooperation in the security sphere.

Balancing budgetary constraints and defence

The financial crisis presents another challenge for all countries. Even developed countries are sharply cutting defence costs, with more and more countries applying the NATO “smart defence” principle. Last year, the US reduced its defence budget by almost half a trillion dollars, whereas Russia, China and India are significantly increasing their military budgets.

Finding an optimal balance between streamlining defence budgets and upgrading the national armed forces can be difficult. While giving countries an opportunity to develop a competitive army and cut unnecessary costs, it is not an easy task stressed the speakers, including representatives of the Defence Ministry and the General Staff.

A valuable partnership

During a video link with NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Dr Shea said that the Alliance has plans for further cooperation with Ukraine, despite its declared non-aligned status. “NATO’s partnership policy with Ukraine has not fundamentally changed – cooperation continues,” he noted. “We need to develop more flexible approaches to partnerships based on common interests.” The struggle against piracy, exchange of intelligence data, and cyber defence development represent a just a few areas where this could be applied.

“Playing out anti-piracy scenarios during joint US-Ukrainian ‘Sea Breeze’ exercises helps Ukraine and NATO member states to resist potential threats,” pointed out Marcin Koziel, Director of the NATO Liaison Office in Ukraine.

Both Koziel and Shea emphasized the continuing operational value of NATO’s Distinctive Partnership with Ukraine for international peacekeeping operations, where Ukrainian expertise and airlift capacity are great assets.