8 May . 2007

NATO to hold security talks with Partner countries in Albania

Video interview with NATO's Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, Ambassador Martin Erdmann

INTERVIEWER: We're here today with Ambassador Martin Erdmann, the NATO Assistant Secretary General of Political Affairs and Security Policy Division. Welcome.

On Thursday you'll be chairing a meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in Atlantic Policy Advisory Group format in Durres, Albania. What is the EAPC APAG?

MARTIN ERDMANN (Assistant Secretary General of Political Affairs and Security Policy Division):That is one of these famous acronyms that we have here at NATO. As you already said, APAG stands for Atlantic Policy Advisory Group. It's an institution that is some 40 years old and that was created in order to allow think-tankers, policy planners from capitals of NATO nations, to sit together once a year and to have a free flow of discussion on issues that are relevant to the NATO agenda.

Now in the beginning of the nineties NATO started its partnership activities, in those days with the Partnership for Peace countries, a setting that is still in place and which is a very successful one. Currently some 23 nations from Western European, Central and Eastern Europe, and even Asia are participating in the Partnership for Peace framework and within this framework we started at the beginning of the nineties to also have these discussions with policy planners from capitals; that means from currently the 26 NATO capitals, plus 23 PFP capitals. Altogether in other words some 49 nations. So that is the basic approach; to have a free flow of discussion on NATO's current agenda with NATO nations and the PFP partner nations.

INTERVIEWER: So why is the next meeting being held in Albania?

ERDMANN:First of all because the Albanian authorities were kind enough to invite us. As you can imagine, to host some 49 nations and representatives from capitals and NATO delegations in Brussels is quite a logistical challenge. Albania has agreed this year to take this challenge and they will host us in Durres, which is one provincial town on the coast of Albania. Last year Croatia was kind enough to host us and then President Mesic of Croatia opened the conference. This year Prime Minister Berisha of Albania will do the same. He will come to talk to us on Thursday, thus opening the conference and agreeing to discuss with participants the situation in Southeast Europe.

INTERVIEWER: Who are going to take part?

ERDMANN: Some, as I said, 49 nations represented by their policy planners from capitals and representatives from NATO delegations here in Brussels. So in other words, we have a good mixture of people being very well acquainted with the current agenda and people… representatives from capitals who are well acquainted with the national agendas vis-à-vis NATO. NATO is an intergovernmental organization so the thinking in capitals is for us here in Brussels as important as the instructions that delegations do receive. So from our perspective this mix of representatives from capitals and delegations is just the right one to really address thoroughly all the issues that are on the table.

INTERVIEWER: And what sort of issues will you be discussing?

ERDMANN: We have prepared as I believe a very attractive agenda. As we are in Southeastern Europe (the meeting takes place in Albania), we have chosen the situation in Southeastern Europe as topic number one and you can easily imagine that we have with the situation in Kosovo, the ongoing status question, something very interesting on our  plate.

The second issue is devoted, after the Riga Summit that took place in November last year, to the partnership as such. How can we make better use of the PFP Framework in order to foster the relationship between NATO and the partner nations? How can we better integrate them into our work?
And the third issue is a less topical issue concerning its day-to-day relevance, but as an umbrella subject it's very important; namely what are the security challenges for the 21st century and how can we better communicate these challenges towards our audiences - national audience, parliaments, media and so on and so forth. So that will be the last issue that we will deal with.

Let me mention one aspect that is important. I mentioned that some 23 nations are currently PFP nations. Only in January of this year we welcomed three new members in the PFP Framework, namely from the region, and these are Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, who for the first time in their history have joined the PFP Partnership for Peace Framework and they will participate for the first time in this year's EAPC APAG meeting.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you very much.

ERDMANN: Thank you.