NATO Mediterranean Dialogue

  • Last updated: 13 Feb. 2015 14:28

NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue was initiated in 1994 by the North Atlantic Council. It currently involves seven non-NATO countries of the Mediterranean region: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan
  • Origins and Objectives

    The Dialogue reflects the Alliance’s view that security in Europe is closely linked to security and stability in the Mediterranean. It is an integral part of NATO's adaptation to the post-Cold War security environment, as well as an important component of the Alliance’s policy of outreach and cooperation.

    The Mediterranean Dialogue's overall aim is to:

    • contribute to regional security and stability
    • achieve better mutual understanding
    • dispel any misconceptions about NATO among Dialogue countries
  • Key Principles

    The successful launch of the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) and its subsequent development has been based upon a number of principles:

    • Non discrimination: all Mediterranean partners are offered the same basis for their cooperation with NATO.
    • Self-differentiation, allowing a tailored approach to the specific needs of each of our MD partner countries. Particularly Individual Cooperation Programmes (ICP) allow interested MD countries and NATO to frame their practical cooperation in a more prospective and focused way, enabling interested countries to outline the main short and long-term objectives of their cooperation with the Alliance, in accordance with NATO's objectives and policies for the Mediterranean Dialogue.
    • Inclusiveness: all MD countries should see themselves as share holders of the same cooperative effort.
    • Two-way engagement: the MD is a "two-way partnership", in which NATO seeks partners' contribution for its success, through a regular consultation process; special emphasis is placed on practical cooperation.
    • Non imposition: MD partners are free to choose the pace and extent of their cooperation with the Alliance; NATO has no wish to impose anything upon them.
    • Complementarity and mutual reinforcement: efforts of the MD and other international institutions for the region are complementary and mutually reinforcing in nature; such as, for example, those of the EU’s “Union For the Mediterranean”, the OSCE’s “Mediterranean Initiative”, or the “Five plus Five”.
    • Diversity: the MD respects and takes into account the specific regional, cultural and political contexts of the respective partners.

    Moreover, the MD is progressive in terms of participation and substance. Such flexibility has allowed the number of Dialogue partners to grow - witness the inclusion of Jordan in November 1995 and Algeria in March 2000 - and the content of the Dialogue to evolve over time.

    The Dialogue is primarily bilateral in structure (NATO+1). Despite the predominantly bilateral character, the Dialogue nevertheless allows for multilateral meetings on a regular basis (NATO+7).

    In principle, activities within the Mediterranean Dialogue take place on a self-funding basis. However, Allies agreed to consider requests for financial assistance in support of Mediterranean partners' participation in the Dialogue. A number of measures have recently been taken to facilitate cooperation, notably the revision of the Dialogue’s funding policy to allow funding up to 100 percent of the participation costs in Dialogue’s activities and the extension of the NATO/PfP Trust Fund mechanisms to MD countries.

  • The political dimension

    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 29 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.

  • The practical dimension

    Measures of practical cooperation between NATO and Mediterranean Dialogue countries are laid down in an annual Work Programme which aims at enhancing our partnership through cooperation in security-related issues.

    The annual Work Programme includes seminars, workshops and other practical activities in the fields of modernisation of the armed forces, civil emergency planning, crisis management, border security, small arms & light weapons, public diplomacy, scientific and environmental cooperation, as well as consultations on terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

    There is also a military dimension to the annual Work Programme which includes invitations to Dialogue countries to observe - and in some cases participate - in NATO/PfP military exercises, attend courses and other academic activities at the NATO School (SHAPE) in Oberammergau (Germany) and the NATO Defense College in Rome (Italy), and visit NATO military bodies.

    The military programme also includes port visits by NATO's Standing Naval Forces, on-site train-the-trainers sessions by Mobile Training Teams, and visits by NATO experts to assess the possibilities for further cooperation in the military field.

    Furthermore, NATO+7 consultation meetings on the military programme involving military representatives from NATO and the seven Mediterranean Dialogue countries are held twice a year.

  • State of play

    At their Summit meeting in Istanbul in June 2004, NATO's HOSG invited Mediterranean partners to establish a more ambitious and expanded framework for the Mediterranean Dialogue, guided by the principle of joint ownership and taking into consideration their particular interests and needs. The aim is to contribute towards regional security and stability through stronger practical cooperation, including by enhancing the existing political dialogue, achieving interoperability, developing defence reform and contributing to the fight against terrorism.

    Since the June 2004 Istanbul Summit, an annual Mediterranean Dialogue Work Programme (MDWP) focusing on agreed priority areas has been the main cooperation instrument available and has been expanded progressively in more than 30 areas of cooperation, going from about 100 activities in 2004, to over 700 activities and events in 2011.

    While the MDWP is essentially military (85 percent of the activities), it comprises activities in a wide range of areas of cooperation including Military Education, Training and Doctrine, Defence Policy and Strategy, Defence Investment, Civil Emergency Planning, Public Diplomacy, Crisis Management, Armaments and Intelligence related activities.

    At their Berlin meeting in April 2011, NATO Foreign Ministers endorsed the establishment of a single Partnership Cooperation Menu (PCM) for all partners. As of 1 January 2012, the single partnership menu will be effective, thus dramatically expanding the number of activities accessible to MD countries.

    A number of cooperation tools have also been progressively opened to MD countries, such as:

    • The e-Prime database which provides electronic access to the MDWP allowing close monitoring of cooperation activities;
    • The full package of Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC) to improve partners’ capacity to contribute effectively to NATO-led Crisis Response Operations through achieving interoperability;
    • The Trust Fund mechanism that currently includes ongoing substantial projects with MD countries such as Jordan and Mauritania;
    • The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center (EADRCC) aims at improving partners’ capacity in supporting NATO’s response to crises;
    • The Partnership Action Plan Against Terrorism (PAP-T) aims at strengthening NATO’s ability to work effectively with MD partners in the fight against terrorism;
    • The Civil Emergency Planning (CEP) action plan aims at improving the civil preparedness againts CBRN attacks on populations and critical infrastructures.

    The NATO Training Cooperation Initiative (NTCI), launched at the 2007 Riga Summit, aims at complementing existing cooperation activities developed in the MD framework through: the establishment of a “NATO Regional Cooperation Course” at the NATO Defence College (NDC) in Rome, which consists in a ten-week strategic level course also focusing on current security challenges in the Middle East.

    Individual Partnership Cooperation Programmes

    The Individual and Partnership Cooperation Programme (IPCP), which replaces the previous Individual Cooperation Programme (ICP) framework document, aims at enhancing bilateral political dialogue as well as at tailoring the cooperation with NATO according to key national security needs, framing NATO cooperation with MD partner countries in a more strategic way. Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia have all agreed tailored Individual Cooperation Programmes with NATO. This is the main instrument of focused cooperation between NATO and MD countries.

    Taking into account changes in the Middle East and North Africa, NATO stands ready to support and assist those Mediterranean Dialogue countries undergoing transition, if they so request. Drawing on in-house experience and expertise, through Individual Partnership Cooperation Programmes the Alliance could provide assistance in the areas of security institutions building, defence transformation, modernisation and capacity development, civil-military relations, and defence-related aspects of the transformation and reform of the security sector.