and the Mediterranean
by the Deputy Secretary General,
Ambassador Alessandro Minuto Rizzo,
on the occasion of the
Mediterranean Dialogue International Research Seminar
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Two months ago, when hi-jacked planes destroyed the World
Trade Center, some were quick to argue that this ended an era
that we used to call "post-Cold War". They saw the
dawn of a dramatically new era: "the age of terrorism".
Of course, only time will tell if we are really on the threshold
of a dramatically different new era, and if the future is as
ominous as these pundits would like us to believe. But there
is no reason to doubt the ability of the international community
to face up to this new challenge, just as it has addressed equally
daunting and seemingly insoluble questions in the past.
As far as NATO is concerned, it is obvious that the Alliance
will have to adjust its agenda. The political and military solidarity
that NATO provided in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy
was invaluable. But we must also look towards the longer term.
In particular, we will have to examine our existing mechanisms
and see how they can be adapted to help us in the struggle against
terrorism. But, contrary to the views of some, NATO's traditional
agenda has not been invalidated. If anything, its logic has
NATO's role in the Balkans, for example, has been vindicated
by the events of September 11. Because stable, multi-ethnic
states are our best insurance against terrorism emerging in
the first place. By the same token, NATO's support for a stronger
European contribution was vindicated as well. Because we now
see that there can be situations when the US is engaged in an
operation outside of Europe. In such cases, the Europeans need
to be organised to take more responsibility on their own. September
11 has also reinforced the logic of NATO enlargement. The broad
coalition that we need to respond to the scourge of terrorism
makes the notion of "ins" and "outs" less
and less relevant.
The Mediterranean Dialogue is another case in point. The events
of September 11 have made it more important. Allow me, therefore,
to give an overview on the Dialogue: on its genesis, its rationale,
and its prospects.
In 1948, during the preliminary negotiations of the Washington
Treaty, Italy declared its desire to join the emerging Alliance.
This caused a considerable philosophical debate: could a "North
Atlantic" Alliance be extended into the Mediterranean?
It may be hard to believe today -- particularly here at the
NATO Defense College in Rome -- but as Italy has no geographical
connection with the Atlantic, some argued back then that it
could not be part of an "Atlantic" Alliance.
In retrospect, these arguments seem very pedantic. Luckily,
the diplomats were more interested in defending common values
rather than narrow geographical space. The initial result of
this pragmatism was the accession of Italy to the Atlantic Alliance,
and several more Mediterranean countries were to follow. No
one could doubt today the far-sightedness of such pragmatism
and the positive and profoundly stabilising effect that NATO
has had on security in the region over the years.
As we have entered the 21st century, NATO's stabilising potential
for the Mediterranean region is, nonetheless, far from exhausted.
The Atlantic Alliance has much to contribute to the building
of new, cooperative security relationships across the Mediterranean
region. But realising such potential first requires a fuller
understanding of the Mediterranean itself -- both of its challenges
as well as of its opportunities.
In my remarks today I would like to provide you with a brief
analysis of the challenges -- and with an overview of the NATO
approach to this region.
The Mediterranean has always played an important part in the
European security equation. Still, the Cold War security focus
was on the so-called Central Region. Accordingly, the Mediterranean
became the "Southern Flank".
The period of bipolarity is now safely behind us -- and with
it the notion of the Mediterranean as "NATO's Southern
Flank". Yet both the Gulf War and the conflict in the former
Yugoslavia have shown that a stable and enduring peace in and
around Europe is yet to be achieved. Both conflicts have added
to the incentive for the Alliance to broaden its approach towards
the Mediterranean region by viewing it as a region with its
own specific dynamics and challenges -- and with a still largely
untapped potential for dialogue and cooperation on security
issues. Indeed, the end of the East-West conflict allows us
to adopt a far more differentiated, more comprehensive perspective
on Mediterranean security.
Such a differentiated perspective is all the more necessary
since the Mediterranean region is a region of enormous pluralism:
political, religious, cultural, economic. More than 20 states
border the Mediterranean. So the Mediterranean eludes a coherent
definition. Some look at the Mediterranean as "the place
where the Persian Gulf begins" -- that is, in terms of
its proximity to geostrategically sensitive areas such as the
Middle East. Others look at developments in and around the Mediterranean
mainly in terms of their implications for broader European security
and stability. Some believe it useful to approach the Mediterranean
in sub-regional terms and consider the Western and Eastern Mediterranean
as distinct areas characterised by different problems and issues.
Whatever definition one prefers, it is obvious that to approach
the Mediterranean as a single entity will be misleading at best
and dangerous at worst.
If we want to achieve long-term stability throughout the Mediterranean
region we must resist the tendency to generalise. Once we lose
our ability to differentiate, we lose our ability to influence
positively the developments in that region. After all, the Mediterranean
deserves attention as a region sui generis. It is, as I said
before, no longer simply a "Southern flank" in an
antagonistic East-West relationship.
So let us differentiate. Let us look at each challenge in
its own right. And then let us devise the right approach.
What are the challenges?
First and foremost, terrorism. To state the two most obvious
things at the outset: Terrorism is not a specifically Mediterranean
phenomenon, and second, NATO will not become the lead organisation
in combating terrorism. Given the complexity of the challenge,
in particular the many different root causes and forms of terrorism,
other approaches may prove to be far more important. I am thinking,
for instance, of international police cooperation, the freezing
of bank accounts, and not least of the evolution of international
But NATO is not simply a bystander in this struggle. Take,
for example, the Alliance's engagement in the Balkans. The whole
purpose of this engagement is to help create stable, multi-ethnic
democracies, in which there is no room for hatred, crime and
terrorism to fester. The long-term objective is to draw all
the countries of South-eastern Europe back into the European
mainstream, which is clearly where they belong.
And I may add that NATO's Balkan engagement has been proceeding
without a religious or ideological agenda. Indeed, the most
challenging part of that engagement, the 1999 Kosovo air campaign,
was taken in defence of Muslims. Nowhere was there any notion
of a "clash of civilizations".
The same is true for the current actions against the Al-Qeida
network in Afghanistan. The coalition of nations that support
these actions spans across continents and religions. Because
all nations have understood that they all are vulnerable to
the threat of terrorism. And that they need to work together
if they want to stand a chance of pushing terrorism to the fringes
of our global society.
Second, there are serious economic and demographic disparities
between Europe and the Mediterranean: simply put, a rich North
and a poor South. Since 1986 the per capita income in Middle
East and North African countries has fallen by 2% annually.
This is the largest decline in any developing region. At the
same time, the population growth rate in this region is 2.5%
per year. The results are obvious: high unemployment rates,
particularly among the younger generation, and, consequently,
migration. About six million immigrants from the Maghreb region
reside in the European Union, highlighting once again that the
Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean cannot be
Third, resources. Most people may still think in terms of
oil and gas, yet some experts predict that the struggle for
water could become one of the major sources for conflict in
the 21st century. Indeed, water is a much sought-after resource,
yet no internationally binding legal norms exist for its distribution.
And the Mediterranean region is very much affected by this challenge.
For example, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria all get their
water from the Jordan basin. Another example: The Palestinians
and the Jewish settlers on the West Bank depend on ground water
that is underneath land that is highly contested. And yet a
third example: due to overuse, the ground water level in the
Gaza strip sinks by about 5 inches each year.
Having just mentioned the Gaza strip brings me straight to
the fourth challenge: the Middle East Peace process. The unresolved
Middle East crisis continues to have implications far beyond
its point of origin. Because without a breakthrough in the Middle
East peace process, a major obstacle to normalising Western
relations with the Arab world will remain.
The fifth challenge: proliferation. Some countries along the
Mediterranean shores are believed to be acquiring weapons of
mass destruction. We must be prudent in our analysis and refrain
from the simplistic suggestion that this quest results from
the South's challenge of the North, or from a contest between
civilisations. It is clear to serious analysts that the rationale
for acquiring these weapons is in itself largely caused by regional
circumstances. But the example of Iraq, a signatory of the Non-Proliferation
Treaty, demonstrates the difficulties of preventing a determined
government from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. And Iraq
is only the distance of a short-range missile from the eastern
Sixth and finally, there is a security challenge of a very
different kind: the lack of coherence in the institutional approaches
to the Mediterranean. There are currently no fewer than five
diplomatic initiatives under way to establish co-operation to
the area: the Barcelona process of the European Union (EU),
the Mediterranean Forum, and the Mediterranean initiatives of
the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
and NATO, in addition to the Middle East peace process. The
number of these initiatives is in itself a positive sign of
the growing interest in the Mediterranean region. But as of
now, these initiatives remain disparate. Clearly, large, overarching
institutional frameworks for the Mediterranean are unrealistic.
But better coordination of existing initiatives is imperative
if one is to maximise the benefits of sustained dialogue, cooperation
All this makes clear that most security challenges in the
Mediterranean derive from weakness and fragmentation rather
than strength. And there can be no doubt that worsening socio-economic
conditions are the key problem above all others.
Since the current problems in the region are mainly socio-economic
in nature, it is logical that the EU should be in the vanguard
of those fostering co-operative relations in the Mediterranean.
The EU offers what the region probably needs the most: economic
That said, however, It is equally clear that the EU alone
could not deal with the scope and the diversity of the Mediterranean
region. Furthermore, the EU does not include several countries
that strongly influence security in the Mediterranean, if you
think of Turkey and the United States. In order for the Mediterranean
to become a stable, prosperous region, it is therefore logical
for other institutional players to play their part as well.
And one of these players is NATO.
I believe that NATO has drawn the right conclusions from all
these facts. We have adopted a differentiated approach to Mediterranean
security, an approach that is first and foremost political,
yet does not neglect the potential for safeguarding our security
against unwelcome developments. It was with this approach in
mind that the Alliance has invited non-NATO Mediterranean countries
-- currently Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco
and Tunisia -- to join us in a Mediterranean Dialogue.
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 external adaptation to the
post-Cold War security environment. Indeed, NATO's new Strategic
Concept clearly states that the Mediterranean Dialogue is an
important component of the Alliance's policy of outreach and
cooperation. Other components of this policy of cooperation
and outreach are, for example, the Partnership for Peace programme,
the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the Permanent Joint Council
with Russia, and the NATO-Ukraine Commission. In other words,
the Mediterranean Dialogue is a logical and organic part of
NATO's attempt at creating new security relationships across
the entire Euro-Atlantic area. It is part and parcel of this
new momentum for regional cooperation with and within the Mediterranean.
It also appreciates the pluralist nature of the Mediterranean,
as it is primarily bilateral and does not pretend that the same
solutions can be applied wholesale to the entire region.
As some of you come from the Dialogue countries, I want to
spare you a lengthy explanation of each and every aspect of
the initiative. But I think that a brief overview may be quite
A key component of the Dialogue is information. Above all,
one major aim of the initiative is facilitate mutual understanding
between the Alliance and Dialogue countries. We need to dispel
whatever misconceptions still may exist about our policies.
NATO, therefore, has supported conferences and seminars for
representatives from Dialogue countries. The Alliance has also
awarded Institutional Fellowships to scholars from the region.
Other information activities include visits of opinion leaders,
academics, journalists, and parliamentarians from Dialogue countries
to NATO Headquarters.
Another important step in the effort to exchange information
has been the establishment - in 1999 - of NATO Contact Point
Embassies in Mediterranean Dialogue countries. That is, the
embassy of a NATO member country represents the Alliance in
each Dialogue country. This approach has been successfully operating
in Central and Eastern European partner countries since 1992.
It thus promises to further enhance the operational aspects
of the Dialogue.
Another key component of the Work Programme is Civil Emergency
Planning (CEP). Mediterranean partners have been invited to
participate in CEP courses at the NATO School in Oberammergau,
as well as in seminars in Greece and Turkey, designed specifically
for Mediterranean Dialogue countries. Jordan has offered to
organise the next NATO-sponsored CEP seminar sometime in 2002.
This event will be the first of this kind to be organised by
a Mediterranean Dialogue country. A NATO CEP team has conducted
visits to all Mediterranean Dialogue countries. They exchanged
views on CEP issues with the relevant agencies and established
working level contacts.
Briefings on NATO Crisis Management have become another element
of the Dialogue's agenda. These briefings were added because
some of our Mediterranean Dialogue partners displayed a strong
interest in these issues. We have briefed Dialogue partners
on military and civil emergency aspects of crisis management,
as well as on NATO's crisis management exercises.
NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue has also promoted scientific
cooperation through the NATO Science Programme. In 2000 for
instance, 108 Dialogue country scientists participated in NATO-sponsored
Advanced Research Workshops, Advanced Study Institutes, Collaborative
Research Grants and Science Fellowships.
Finally, there is also a military dimension to the Dialogue.
Our Work Programme includes invitations to Dialogue countries
to either observe or participate with troops in selected NATO/PfP
sea and land exercises, attend seminars and workshops, and visit
NATO military bodies. The programme also includes port visits
to Dialogue countries by NATO's Standing Naval Forces in the
NATO's Military Authorities have devised a military concept
specifically designed for the Mediterranean Dialogue countries.
This concept has three main components: courses at the NATO
School in Oberammergau, courses and other academic activities
here at the NATO Defense College in Rome, and specific activities
to be conducted under the responsibility of Allied Command Europe
and Allied Command Atlantic. In 2000, for instance 104 military
officers from all Mediterranean partner countries participated
in military activities offered in the framework of the Mediterranean
In this context, it is perhaps worth noting that three of
the Mediterranean Dialogue countries -- Egypt, Jordan and Morocco
-- have already cooperated militarily with the Alliance in the
NATO-led operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.
It is obvious, then, that the Mediterranean Dialogue has progressed
That is why, at the Washington Summit in 1999, NATO Heads
of State and Government decided to enhance both the political
and practical dimensions of the Dialogue. For example, we have
increased the frequency of political discussions between representatives
from NATO and Mediterranean Dialogue countries. We are also
offering additional opportunities for Ambassadors' meetings
in conjunction with ad hoc events, including conferences and
seminars on the Mediterranean Dialogue.
An important step in this direction was taken in 2000 when,
for the first time, NATO Senior Political Officials visited
the seven Mediterranean Dialogue countries and were met by the
highest authorities in most of these countries.
In October this year, the North Atlantic Council met with
the Ambassadors of the seven Mediterranean Dialogue countries
in the so-called 19+7 format to explain NATO's role following
the tragic events of 11 September.
The meeting took place immediately after the conclusion of
the 5th round of political discussions with each Mediterranean
partner in the so-called 19+1 format. This series of seven meetings
aimed at exchanging views on the political and security situation
in the Mediterranean region and discussing the current status
and future development of the Mediterranean Dialogue. They also
provided a welcomed opportunity to exchange views on the implications
of 11 September and the on-going fight against terrorism.
Last but certainly not least, Turkey has offered to host the
next Mediterranean Dialogue Conference at Ambassadorial level
in 2002. Previous conferences were successfully held in Rome
(1997) and Valencia (1999).
As for strengthening the practical dimension of the Dialogue,
we want to include additional activities in areas where NATO
can add value, particularly in the military field, and in areas
where Dialogue countries have expressed specific interest. In
this regard, a military expert team visited all Mediterranean
Dialogue countries in order to assess the possibilities of cooperation
in the military field. The results of these visits formed the
basis for the development of the annual Mediterranean Dialogue
The Dialogue, then, is not a one-way street. It can evolve
in accordance with our Dialogue Partners' interests and priorities.
For it to do so, however, requires consistent input by our Partners.
Only through their continuing engagement will this Dialogue
move ahead. That is why I strongly encourage our Partners to
All these developments demonstrate that the Mediterranean
Dialogue has major evolutionary potential. We are a long way
from the "Partnership for Peace for the South" that
some have suggested. But we have made NATO's Mediterranean far
more visible than before. Dialogue with Mediterranean countries
is now firmly embedded in NATO's structures and policies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The great French historian Fernand Braudel once called the
Mediterranean "a thousand things in one." He was referring
to the unique character of this region as a crossroads of cultures,
religions, and ideas. This character of the Mediterranean has
sometimes been forgotten, but it has never been eclipsed.
The end of the Cold War has injected a new sense of dynamism
into the Mediterranean region. There is now much more fluidity,
a situation far more conducive to exert a positive influence
on the region. The new NATO, acting in concert with other major
institutions, notably the EU, is in a better position than ever
to have a stabilising effect.