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NATO Attacks the Financial Crisis with Smart Defence

Published on , , Sofia

"We came to Chicago with three goals. And we have met them. We have focused on the future of Afghanistan. We have decided to invest smartly in our defence even in times of austerity. And we have engaged with our partners around the world to address the challenges we all face in the 21st century," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen summarised the outcome of the Chicago summit on 20 and 21 May.

Afghanistan

NATO has reaffirmed its commitment to remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, and then to continue to support the country in order to prevent it from becoming ever again a safe haven for terrorists. The transfer of security responsibility from the NATO mission to Afghan forces (ANSF) is on track and by mid-2012 the ANSF will be in the lead for security nationwide. The Alliance will gradually withdraw its forces until the end of the mission by 31 December 2014. NATO's role will be to train, advise and assist, and for this purpose a new mission will be formed, based on a UN Security Council resolution.

The agreement between the Afghan government and international community provides local security forces to comprise of 228,500 people with an annual budget of 4.1 billion dollars. It is envisaged Afghanistan’s yearly share to increase progressively from at least 500 million dollars in 2015, aiming from 2024 the country to assume full financial responsibility for its security forces.

Asked how the Allies have commented on the intention of French President Francois Hollande to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that France would remain a member of the mission and would continue to contribute to it in another way, so all allies and partners appreciated that.

Western Balkans

"The Alliance continues to be fully committed to the stability and security of the strategically important Balkans region," the Chicago declaration reads. In Kosovo NATO will move towards a smaller, more flexible, deterrent presence, once the security situation allows it. The Alliance reaffirmed its commitment to invite Macedonia as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached. The statement welcomed the progress of Montenegro towards a full NATO membership and the republic's contribution to regional security. Bosnia and Herzegovina`s aspirations to join the pact are encouraged and the country is praised for making significant progress, including the creation of government.

While expressing its support for Serbia`s Euro-Atlantic integration, NATO stands ready to deepen its political dialogue and practical cooperation with Belgrade. The Allies call upon Serbia to support further efforts towards the consolidation of peace and stability in Kosovo. "We urge all parties concerned to cooperate fully with KFOR and EULEX in the execution of their respective mandates for which unconditional freedom of movement is necessary," the declaration states. The Alliance calls on Belgrade and Pristina to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the EU-facilitated dialogue to resolve their disputes because "dialogue between them and Euro-Atlantic integration of the region are key for a sustained improvement in security and stability in the Western Balkans."

Ukraine, Georgia and Russia

"An independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security," the document says. The trial of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, because of which Kiev is subjected to serious international criticism, has also found a place in the Chicago declaration. NATO leaders are concerned "by the selective application of justice and what appear to be politically motivated prosecutions, including of leading members of the opposition, and the conditions of their detention. We encourage Ukraine to address the existing shortcomings of its judicial system to ensure full compliance with the rule of law and the international agreements to which it is a party. We also encourage Ukraine to ensure free, fair and inclusive Parliamentary elections this autumn."

The Chicago declaration confirms the decision from Bucharest 2008 Georgia to become a NATO member and reiterates support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country within its internationally recognised borders. The allies welcome Georgia's commitment not to use force and urge Russia to do the same, while expressing concern about the build-up of Russian military presence in Georgia and calling upon Moscow to reconsider its decision to recognise the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

On the tenth anniversary of the NATO-Russia Council, the allies welcome the progress in the cooperation between the two parties over the years but note the need "to improve trust, reciprocal transparency, and predictability." In this sense, within the Council the allies will raise the issue of Russia's intentions for military deployment near NATO borders.

AMDS

At the same time, the Alliance reassures that its missile defence is not directed against Russia. Rather, within the NATO-Russia Council opportunities would be sought how their missile defence systems can work together to strengthen European security. In order to increase transparency and trust, the allies propose a regular exchange of information about the current respective missile defence capabilities of NATO and Russia.

In Chicago NATO leaders announced that the first phase of the Alliance’s European missile defence shield has been completed. At this stage, the system includes an early warning radar in Turkey, American ships in the Mediterranean, based in Spain, and interceptors, based in Poland and Romania. The common command is located in Germany`s Ramstein base. After the summit, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov said that the territory of Bulgaria was fully covered by the missile defence system. "Our system will link together the missile defence assets from different allies – satellites, ships, radars and interceptors – under NATO command and control. It will allow us to defend ourselves against threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. Full operational capability of the system is expected to be achieved within 10 years.

Smart Defence

is the smart way for NATO to say to the allies that in times of shrinking budgets and defence spending cuts they must work together and pool their resources to enable the Alliance to maintain and develop its defence capabilities. The other delicate part of the message is that European countries should engage more actively, despite the severe debt crisis: "NATO recognises the importance of a stronger and more capable European defence. NATO also recognises non-EU Allies’ ongoing concerns and their significant contributions to strengthening the EU’s capacities to address common security challenges." While the declaration states that NATO and the EU will work side by side under the Smart Defence initiative, great challenges remain.

"Member-states remain afraid of defence collaboration: the dependencies it creates, its initial costs and the potential loss of jobs. The alliance’s approach – waiting for NATO governments to propose mergers of military units and joint weapons purchases – has run out of steam," an analysis by the Centre for European Reform (CER) concludes. The analysts say the Alliance should offer incentives for governments to cooperate and guarantees to allay their fears, while assuring them that the benefits are worth the political, economic and security risks. Experts from CER do not agree with the Secretary General of NATO, that through Smart Defence the allies will achieve more security for less money, but believe that "collaboration may permit NATO countries to preserve a bit more military power than they would otherwise have."

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