by Alejandro Alvargonzález, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy at the inauguration ceremony of the NATO Strategic Direction South Hub, JFC Naples
Admiral Howard, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I appreciate the opportunity to address such a distinguished international gathering, for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Hub for the South.
I am particularly pleased to be here today because as Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, I and my staff are deeply engaged in managing political dialogue and practical cooperation with our partners in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East.
NATO and its Mediterranean Dialogue and its ICI partners face common
transnational security challenges and threats: international terrorism, spill over from failing and faited states, the trafficking of small arms and light weapons, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, maritime security, the protection of sea lanes of communication and energy supply routes, especially chock points. NATO provides added value with its experience and expertise to address these challenges.
For more than two decades NATO has been engaged in developing regular political dialogue and practical cooperation with Mediterranean Dialogue countries and for 10 years with Arab Gulf states in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. The Alliance has been able to build successfully a new culture of cooperation in the security field, with 12 regional partner countries having different security backgrounds.
These partners are adopting NATO standards and promoting interoperability with the Alliance, while modernising their defence and security sectors. They all are asking NATO for more cooperation and more assistance in the defence and security fields. Through tailored Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programmes and Defence Capacity Building assistance programmes they all are enhancing political dialogue and practical cooperation with NATO.
It is peace and stability that NATO wishes to project and it believes it can do this better by helping our partners build solid and transparent defence and security institutions and capabilities in a partnership for stability.
NATO's partnerships with the countries of this region, through the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative have both preventive and operational functions. By promoting political dialogue and practical cooperation in the defence and security fields with its MD and ICI partners, based upon a two-way street and a tailored approach, NATO has achieved a better mutual understanding with a large number of countries of different cultures, realigning misperceptions, thereby preventing tensions and therefore preventing conflicts.
The political and military contribution of six NATO MD and ICI partners (Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and UAE) to the successful management of the NATO-Ied operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya, testifies of the effectiveness of the Alliance's operational engagement with these partners and, through it, of its contribution to a more secure, stable and peaceful international environment.
NATO's military Command in Naples has been crucial in the conduct of these operations. And Joint Force Command Naples will continue to be crucial in supporting NATO's core three security tasks of collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. That is why the decision announced by Secretary General Stoltenberg during our February Defence Ministers meeting to establish the "NATO Strategic Direction South Hub", is so important.
The Hub will contribute to improve regional situational awareness and understanding, of the regional threats, challenges and opportunities, managing and sharing the information collected; will contribute to the implementation of the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programmes and Defence Capacity Building Programmes with our partners in the Middle East and North Africa; it will help strengthening dialogue between NATO's experts and their counterparts from partner countries, civilian organizations, international organisations and other non-NATO entities.
ln doing so, NATO will continue to work with our Mediterranean and Middle Eastern partners according to the principles which have characterised our cooperation with them for many years. Especially, joint ownership and two way engagement, through which NATO seeks partners' contribution for its success via a regular consultation process, putting special emphasis on practical cooperation. And we will also actively promote complementarity of efforts with other international organisations with whom we are already working together, especially the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League and others. This will ensure that our work in the South will be mutually reinforcing in nature.
But if it is true that we share with our regional partners the common security challenges and threats that I pointed out at the beginning of my intervention, it is equally true that we share with them the common aspirations for stability, security and peace. I am convinced that these aspirations can be fulfilled through a multilateral and cooperative approach to security, which is precisely the approach that NATO wishes to promote working together with our regional partners, also through the Hub for the South.
The establishment of the Hub responds to a reiterated request of the Allies. The first team is already working in it and its members all volunteered to the job. They know that it will be challenging, it will require that they adapt to a structure new for NATO, as well as to a new working culture. I would like to thank them for taking this step forward to fulfil the Allies’ and partners’ ambitions to make our citizens and our countries more secure.
Thank you very much.