The NATO you might not know - security and defence beyond the old basics

Brief by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller at a townhall meeting with students hosted by the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation

  • 02 Mar. 2018 -
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  • Last updated 05-Mar-2018 11:04

NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller at the townhall event with students, hosted by the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation

Thank you very much, Mr Georgiou and Mr Florentis, Secretary General, thank you for your very kind welcome, and I am delighted to learn that there is a wise chapter here, and so I am delighted that Dr Mithokis is here today and recollected for us all that International Women's Day is coming up in the next week, on Thursday. I thought… as you know, what I do today is talk about NATO, the NATO you might not know, and that is the NATO beyond what we think about in terms of collective defence in a kind of normal notion. A normal notion of collective defence, historically represented by armies facing off against each other, and that’s often what people think about when they think about NATO and the Warsaw Pact, for example. It is the kind of normal notion of collective defence. So, I thought I would run through some examples. I want this to be a very kind of conversational meeting today. I know we'll hear from Ambassador Stamatopoulos briefly afterwards, but I thought then we could just continue and I hope a question and answer comment. I want to hear from you also, as I speak today. Thank you very much.

So, let me run through a few examples of where I think NATO gets beyond the normal notion of collective defence. It's the NATO you might not know. And the first one is an area where Greece has played an enormous role, and that is in the combatting of illegal human trafficking. You know, a few weeks ago, the UN Special Representative, Angelina Jolie, came to NATO Headquarters and together with our Secretary General, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, they pledged to work together to address protection of civilians from violence, including all kinds of violence, and playing into that, illegal trafficking. So, coming back to what we are doing in NATO, we are going to be focusing on this problem over the next two years, in a work programme that will intensify our efforts. But we're looking to use that as a launch pad to develop a wider and wider spectrum of work, together with a number of different communities, including with the United Nations community, on tackling these important and very severe problems for humanity. But, with Greece's help, NATO has already been working in the Aegean and the Mediterranean to combat illegal human trafficking.

Since 2016, NATO’s deployment in the Aegean Sea has helped curb illegal and dangerous human trafficking, working with Greece, also with Turkey and the EU’s border agency, Frontex. We have really seen important progress in this area. First, thanks to the information collected by our ships, Greece, Turkey and Frontex are taking effective action in breaking the business model of human traffickers in the Aegean. This saves lives. UN figures show that the number of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea declined significantly when NATO ships began their patrols, and the numbers have remained relatively low. This shows that international efforts working together truly can have an effect.

Second, our deployment provides an additional platform for cooperation among Greece, Turkey and the European Union, regarding the refugee and migrant crisis, and I think this is an important testimony to how we have already been able to have a… a true substantive effect on this crisis.

And third, this is another success story of cooperation between NATO and the EU per se. We are now working more closely than ever before and will continue to do so. I know there's been a lot in the media recently about defence cooperation being built up in the EU, and whether there's a competitive angle with NATO. I will be glad to talk with you about this during our discussion period, but truly what I see is a new era of cooperation developing between NATO, on one side of Brussels, and the European Union on the other side of Brussels. And you'll see more of that as we prepare for our July Summit meeting in 2018.

So, NATO has made and continues to make an important contribution to stability in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean region, and to the situation in the Western Balkans. Here, throughout these regions, Greece plays a critical role.

Now, second example, and it's very appropriate, talking more about 1325, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 as we approach International Women's Day on March 8th, but this is something that is year round for the NATO Alliance. At the 2014 Wales Summit, NATO leaders acknowledged that the integration of gender perspectives contributes to a more modern, ready and responsive NATO. Gender is an important focus of NATO's cooperation with other international organisations, once again, the EU and the United Nations, and also with civil society, so I am glad to see that there are so many representatives of civil society here today.

Put simply, we believe very strongly that peace is best secured through inclusion. That is who we are at NATO. Today, NATO is working to ensure that gender perspectives are incorporated into all aspects of policy, doctrine and training. This is not only the right thing to do, but it is also the smart thing to do. It's how you get more effectiveness out of your military forces, if you have everyone working together in this way. We know that mixed teams of men and women are smarter and perform better. Diverse teams are more innovative and creative, and so we believe it is not only the right thing to do, but it is the smart thing to do as well.

All nations and organisations, not just NATO, need all the creativity that our people have to offer. You can't leave 50% of the population behind and expect to gain maximum effectiveness, that’s all there is to it. We can't afford to leave talent untapped anywhere in this Alliance and I would argue quite clearly, anywhere in the world. The NATO approach has been: keep it simple, keep it practical and start at home. Our ambition is to make gender awareness a basic skill and gender analysis a basic tool, for every security provider, both civilian and military. The objective is to deepen our efforts toward gender equality and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and related resolutions, throughout NATO's core tasks. Gender mainstreaming is not an end in itself and I do want to emphasise that - gender mainstreaming is not an end in itself. It's a strategy to deliver better on NATO's overarching mandate, to effectively prevent conflict and secure lasting peace for all.

Things are moving in a positive direction, but there is a whole lot more work to do. That’s why I said, at the outset, it's good that we have now a really succinct focus on this matter for the next two years and a work programme that I think will launch us ever more firmly on this path of inclusion and full implementation of R1325 commitments inside the Alliance.

Now let me go to a completely different topic, and that is how NATO is helping Allies to boost their cyber defences and develop their cyber capabilities. Cyber defence is part of NATO's core task of collective defence, but it's not the normal notion of collective defence. It's something that has come at us really over the last decade or two, how we have to think about cyber security and cyber defence. That is why NATO has declared cyber to be an operational domain, along with air, sea and land. Cyber is another area where we are working closely with the European Union as well. We should not underestimate how hacking and cyber attacks can undermine our open societies. Such threats are quicker, more potent and more intense that ever before. This is a growing threat. By hacking into banking systems, power grids, government services, air traffic control systems, adversaries seek to steal secrets, steal our secrets, disrupt our democracies and attack the functioning of our countries overall. Any outside interference with elections, whether with hacking or propaganda, is completely unacceptable. Hacking and the spread of propaganda can erode public confidence in democratic institutions. So, we are working hard throughout the Alliance to make our societies more resilient to cyber attacks, and that is really a watchword of where NATO is concentrating its efforts: resilience and defence against cyber attacks. And these are important steps and they will serve us well in peacetime, as well as, heaven forbid, in times of crisis and conflict.

Now, I've said a few things about NATO and the EU working together, and one of the really important points I want to stress, again we can come back to defence cooperation if you like in the discussion, but I really want to stress that NATO and the EU are working together all the time. It's been woven up through my remarks so far, but I want to say a few more things about some of the particular ways we have been working with the EU.

We are working on terrorism. NATO and the EU are natural partners. We share the same values, the same challenges, and many of the same people. More than 90% of EU citizens live in a NATO country. Over the past 18 months, we have made unprecedented progress in NATO-EU cooperation. NATO and the EU are working together not only on terrorism, but in areas like cyber defence, intelligence sharing, military mobility and other critical topics. We are both part of the so-called Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and that has served to hone and strengthen our cooperation across the board.

We have agreed to increase our cooperation in the fight against terrorism by strengthening the exchange of information and coordinating counter-terrorism support for our partner countries. In Afghanistan, NATO has built up the Afghan military to a highly-trained force of over 400,000 personnel. The EU, for its part, has focused on the development of the Afghan police forces and is a major provider of development and humanitarian aid. So, the work that NATO does, and the work that the EU does, in the case of the Afghanistan, fit quite well together and complement each other. And we see no reason why that complementarity can't develop across the board, as we enhance and strengthen our cooperation with the EU overall.

Counter-terrorism is one of the tasks of NATO's Operation Sea Guardian also, which is supporting the EU's Operation Sophia. In 2017, Sea Guardian conducted operations in different parts of the Mediterranean, to enhance NATO's maritime situational awareness.

So, let me give you a few concluding thoughts before we turn to Ambassador Stamatopoulos and then open the floor for your questions. Today, I've talked about NATO beyond normal notions of collective defence, the NATO that you might not know. In truth, right now, NATO faces the most serious challenges to our collective defence in a generation. Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and the ongoing destabilisation of Ukraine, turmoil and violence across North Africa and the Middle East, terrorism…