by NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow at the Rome conference on Libya
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very honoured to represent NATO here today. And I want to start by extending a sincere word of appreciation to Foreign Minister Mogherini and the Italian Government for giving us the opportunity to participate.
There are good reasons for NATO to be closely involved in your ongoing work. We are proud of the role we played three years ago in fulfilling a historic UN Security Council mandate to protect the people of Libya. We are keen to continue to help as Libya moves towards a peaceful, secure and democratic future. And we have important knowledge and expertise that can help Libya and its people along that path.
The journey from dictatorship to liberation and democracy is long and hard. Libya has already come a long way. But there is still much to do. First and foremost by the people of Libya themselves, and especially by their political leaders. But NATO stands ready to help, in areas where the Libyan Government needs our help and where we can add value.
NATO has been quick to respond to Prime Minister Zeidan’s request for advice on defence institution building. We have established an advisory team to work together with the Libyan authorities on this effort. And while we still have some details to work out before our specialists can travel to Libya, we have invited Libyan experts to our Headquarters in Brussels, or a third country, to get our concrete work going.
Our first objective would be to advise the Libyan authorities on the establishment of the necessary structures, processes and arrangements to enable them to develop a national security strategy. Once that work is underway, we could then also give advice on the adaptation of Libya’s existing security architecture to make sure that is compatible with the new policy framework.
Let me stress that we do not seek to establish a full-time presence on the ground in Libya. And that we will continue to conduct our advisory work in full complementarity and coordination with the efforts of other national and international actors, including the United Nations Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) and the European Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM).
But let me also reiterate NATO’s unique expertise with defence reform and security institution building. This includes advice on the development of efficient and effective defence structures that are under civilian oversight and democratic control. And it’s the type of advice that we are making available at the moment in places like Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. We have also played a major role for the past 20 years in defence sector reform in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe under the Partnership for Peace.
NATO’s experience in sharing this expertise has taught us that each country is different, and that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. And so any NATO assistance to Libya would not only be carefully developed in complementarity with what other nations and organisations are offering. It would also be carefully tailored to what Libya really wants and needs.
And that brings me to one final requirement for the success of our efforts, and that is strong Libyan ownership. We have been impressed by the progress that Libya has already made these past few years. We are confident that it will now demonstrate the resolve to allow the international community to come to its aid. NATO is keen to help. We hope today’s important conference helps bring us together for the benefit of the Libyan people.