Continuing to build security through partnership
Ten years after the creation of the Partnership for Peace, NATO's Partnership policy has to be adapted to meet the Alliance's evolving priorities and respond to Partners security concerns. As the Alliance prepares for the Istanbul Summit, several challenges have to be addressed to ensure that Partnership retains the dynamism and relevance that has made it central to NATO policy. The balance of the relationship between Allies and Partners has changed as a result of NATO enlargement. NATO now has more members than Partners, with 26 Allies and 20 Partners. The Partners are a very diverse group, including both the strategically important countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia and the Western European non-aligned states. Partnership must, therefore, be flexible enough to take this into account. Partnership also needs to keep pace with NATO's own transformation and, in particular, the Alliance's efforts to combat terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And Partnership needs to stay open for new members, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro, once they have met established NATO membership requirements. Finally, Partnership needs to continue to fulfil its original function, namely to provide a forum for security consultations with Partners.
Understanding the PfP tool kit
In the decade since the creation of the Partnership for Peace programme, Allies and Partners have together developed a comprehensive tool kit to support the practical implementation of PfP aims and objectives and translate ideas into action. The PfP tool kit provides a framework for both bilateral and multilateral action, offering Partners effective and transparent tailor-made programmes to support their engagement with NATO. In total, the Partnership for Peace offers Partners the opportunity to participate in some 1,400 activities, which are set out in the Partnership Work Plan, a document that is agreed and published every two years. Cooperation mechanisms include Individual Partnership Plans (providing the foundation of cooperation between individual Partners and NATO); Individual Partnership Action Plans (for countries wishing to deepen their relationship with NATO); the Membership Action Plan (for countries aspiring to NATO membership); and the PfP Planning and Review Process (to promote interoperability). The tool kit is continuously evolving in response to Allied and Partner needs and aspirations.
Building a NATO partnership for the Greater Middle East
In seeking to reform the Mediterranean Dialogue and extend it to cover more of the Middle East, much can be learned from the PfP experience. To build security partnerships in this part of the world, NATO needs to develop greater expertise and increase institutional mechanisms for engagement. A new partnership programme should not include formal documents to be signed, particularly if they contain a list of principles and values to be shared. All that is needed is a series of forums for regular political and military/security dialogue coupled with a dense web of cooperative activities. The most important consideration is to be able to divide up the area, formally or informally, to be able to work in sub-regional clusters and to separate the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian question from that of NATO's relationship with other countries in the region. As the Partnership for Peace is itself overhauled, there will almost inevitably be a greater degree of collaboration between it and the new mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation with North Africa and the Middle East. Perhaps the best solution would be one common umbrella programme covering all aspects of partnership, beneath which there could be a greater distinction between the regions, and between parts of the whole: a "Partnership for Cooperation" that takes in Central and Eastern Europe, the wider Mediterranean region and the Greater Middle East.
Assessing NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue
In the decade since NATO launched its Mediterranean Dialogue, the strategic environment in the Euro-Atlantic area, the Middle East and beyond has changed almost beyond recognition. Today, the geographic space for security cooperation between NATO and Dialogue countries has expanded eastward all the way to Afghanistan and possibly beyond. The "Clintonian" approach to the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean with its emphasis on dialogue, treaties, confidence building and economic incentives has been superseded by intrusive, pre-emptive and interventionist policies. And the more interventionist US approach to the Middle East is accompanied by an attempt to change the value system in the region to bring it more in line with Western, democratic models. The Mediterranean Dialogue has come a long way in the past decade and, as intended, has provided both NATO and Dialogue countries an opportunity to start to get to know each other. While there is potential for upgrading NATO's engagement in this part of the world, the Alliance must seek to develop a two-way relationship with Arab countries and also to address their security concerns.
The Albanian dream
Both the Albanian government and wider Albanian society view Euro-Atlantic integration as critical for our country and its future. With a view to eventual NATO membership, we are faithfully following the Membership Action Plan. The Albanian Armed Forces are also active in NATO's peacekeeping missions as well as those of the United Nations and the US-led International Coalition against Terrorism. Our soldiers are deployed in the Stabilisation Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. And special units of the Albanian Army are currently in Iraq. We are aware, however, that we will not be invited to join NATO simply because of the level of public support for Alliance membership or for our contributions to NATO-led peacekeeping operations. Rather, when we are invited to join the Alliance, it will be in recognition of much hard work and the successful conclusion of a long and comprehensive reform process. My dream, one that I share with the vast majority of my fellow citizens, is to witness my country's integration into NATO.
Transforming NATO's military structures
NATO's Prague Summit set in motion a transformation process to ensure that the Alliance is equipped to address the challenges of the new century. Two groundbreaking changes arising from decisions taken at Prague are the Alliance's new streamlined Command Structure and the creation of a NATO Response Force (NRF). All operational responsibilities are now vested under the Allied Command for Operations in Mons, Belgium. Meanwhile, a new Allied Command for Transformation was created in Norfolk, Virginia, in the United States, which is responsible for the Alliance's military transformation. By vesting all operational responsibilities in one command and focusing the second strategic command on the challenges of on-going transformation, NATO has postured itself for continuous transformation to meet the ever-evolving challenges of today's security environment. Once the NRF is operational in October 2006, NATO will for the first time in its history have a standing, integrated force with sea, land, air and special operations components under a single commander. Its high-readiness element will have the capability to begin deployment within five days of receiving the order to deploy and to sustain itself for up to 30 days. The NRF will both give the Alliance a proactive capability and serve as a vehicle for changing the NATO force structure and the force structures of member nations.