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01 martie 2019 - Special reports - NATO - UE

NATO-EU political and military events/ February 2019

Ştefan Oprea

Sursă foto: Mediafax

NATO

  • NATO Defence Ministers reunion;
  • NATO’s extension- Republic of North Macedonia;

EUROPEAN UNION

  • Informal meeting of European Union’s defence ministers;

MILITARY ACQUISITIONS AND DEFENCE INDUSTRY

  • The first anti-tank weapons delivery under the multinational NATO project;
  • NATO Communications and Information Agency - NCIA announces the NITEC19 Conference;

 

NATO

NATO Defence Ministers reunion

NATO Defence Ministers met in Brussels on February 13-14, having on the agenda important topics, specific to the current moment, a critical time for transatlantic security.

The main topics of the debates were: The treaty on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF), NATO’s defence and deterrence posture, burden sharing and defence spending, NATO’s missions and operations, European Cooperation on defence.

The Forum began with a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, which examined the possible implications for the Alliance of recent developments INF Treaty and Russia’s ongoing violation of its provisions.  During the talks, it was stressed that all Allies agree with the US decision to withdraw from this treaty. Although Moscow continues to develop and deploy several SSC-8 missile systems, meeting's participants agreed that NATO does not want a new arms race, but at the same time further action needs to be planned for a world without the INF Treaty. From this point of view, they discussed the measures that NATO should take to adapt to a world with more Russian missiles, maintaining a deterrence and effective defence posture.

The meeting continued with a session devoted to the development of NATO's deterrence and defensive potential, focusing on the Readiness Initiative and on the concept of strengthening the Alliance. Defence ministers have adopted new political guidelines for the objectives and priorities of the next NATO defence planning cycle.

The agenda for the event included discussions on members' financial contributions, as only eight of the Allies meets the 2% GDP for defence commitment. And within these costs, devoting 20% of contributions for capabilities is becoming a problem, as many European nations spend the bulk of their budget on personnel.

Regarding the future of the mission in Afghanistan, amid the US proposals to withdraw part of its forces from the theatre of operations, ministers concluded that this mission remains a priority of the Alliance. Amid the US talks, negotiating a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government, NATO has pledged its presence in Afghanistan to contribute to their completion in order to end the 17-year conflict. Also, NATO's effort to continue the training mission in Iraq has been widely appreciated and supported for its contribution to strengthening Iraq's capacity to prevent the re-emergence of the Islamic state or other terrorist groups in the area.

In the same session, ministers discussed the review of the level of allied support for the Kosovo Security Force after the Kosovo Parliament's decision to turn the Kosovo Security Force (2,500 members) into a national army (approx. 5,000 people). A decision to do so will be made at the latest in the spring.

Finally, the Ministers concluded the discussions in a joint working session with the EU High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini, Defence Ministers Jussi Niinistö of Finland and Peter Hultqvist from Sweden, on NATO-EU cooperation and efforts strengthening the European pillar within NATO. In this framework, the Allies welcomed the enhancement of the European Union's focus on defence as a means of strengthening NATO. NATO Secretary-General called for closer cooperation on defence spending, new capabilities, military mobility, and "ensuring that NATO allies outside the EU are fully involved."

Defence Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, Radmila Shekerinska, took "a seat at NATO’s table" for the first time as an official invitee in all of the Ministerial discussions. 

In the margins of the same meeting, defence ministers from Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to establish a Regional Special Operations Component Command (R-SOCC). Under Hungarian leadership, the four European allies and Austria's partner nation will work together to form a deployable R-SOCC for low-intensity operations.

This initiative is another example of close cooperation between NATO Allies and partners and is a significant step in strengthening the capabilities of Special Forces Operations in the region.

 

NATO’s extension - Republic of North Macedonia

On 6th of February, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov have signed the Accession Protocol, together with representatives of the 29 Alliance member states, at a ceremony chaired by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The aspirations of the Balkan peoples, even if some are still culturally and economically tied to Russia, to join NATO, the EU or both, are grounded in their desire to reduce the potential of interethnic conflicts, along with affiliation to Western democratic values.

To meet these aspirations, NATO, through its openness policy, offers opportunities to all who share its values and are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership. Particularly, Euro-Atlantic integration of Western Balkan partners is considered the best way to ensure long-term security and stability across the region.

At the Bucharest Summit in April 2008, the Allies agreed that an invitation to join the Alliance would be extended to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to this issue with Greece is reached. Full implementation of all internal procedures prescribed for the name resolution settlement was a prerequisite for successfully completing the accession process. The agreement was consistently reiterated at subsequent summits.

At the Brussels summit in 2018, the "historic" agreement between Athens and Skopje on addressing the name issue has created Allied leaders the opportunity to invite the Macedonian government to start accession talks to join the Alliance.

Following the signing by the Allies of the Accession Protocol for the future Republic of North Macedonia, the country can now participate in NATO's activities as a guest.

A short retrospective highlights the fact that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been in a major controversy with Greece on Hellenic names and symbols since 1991 when declared its independence.

Later, in 1995, Greece finally removed the trade blockade and the two countries agreed to normalize relations, although the differences regarding the name of Macedonia remained. The complicated state of the neighbouring Kosovo entity, the difficult implementation of the framework agreement and a weak economy continue to be challenges for Macedonia.

The ratification in 2018 of a friendship treaty between Bulgaria and Macedonia, two countries whose relations have long been divergent, particularly on minority issues, may be considered a strong signal that the time has come to seek solutions to some of the problems of the region. The name change agreement, called the Prespa Agreement, also signed in 2018, between the Macedonian and Greek governments, ends a 27-year dispute between the two neighbours.

This created the premise that, on February 8, 2019, the majority vote of the Greek Parliament to approve the Accession Protocol of the future Republic of North Macedonia to NATO would allow Macedonia to be named now by its new name.

Once the protocol is ratified in the capitals of each of the 29 Allies, according to national procedures, the country will become a member of NATO.

 

EUROPEAN UNION

Informal meeting of European Union’s defence ministers

In the context of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, on 30 and 31 January, an informal meeting of defence ministers from the European Union held in Bucharest.

The event, hosted by Defence Minister Gabriel Leş, was developed in the presence of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini and was an excellent opportunity for a shared reflection and an exchange of views for the strengthening of the European project from a perspective security and defence.

The first working session focused on the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda together with the perspective of future commitments and actions that should lead to ensuring gender equality in the security and defence dimension. The debate was attended by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and UN Deputy Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix. In the same context, the wider framework for co-operation between the three organizations on international crisis management was also addressed.

The following day, in the session on the future of European defence, the ministers had a thorough debate on the state of play and the progress made in implementing the EU's overall foreign and security policy strategy, focusing on the coherence of defence initiatives: Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and European Defence Fund (EDF).

Defence ministers also addressed a number of issues related to the implications of innovation and R & D as well as technological progress in the development of military capabilities. The increased dynamics of technological advances in the civilian field, with a potential impact on the military component, has been emphasized.

Opportunities for further growth of the EU's security and defence efforts pave the way for a consolidation phase focused on successful implementation, correlation and interconnection, which will have the effect of developing the EU profile as a global player, starting from recognizing the central role of NATO in ensuring European security and defence. In this context, the transatlantic relationship remains essential in order to strengthen the European dimension in the defence field.

Also on the second day, Defence Minister Gabriel Leş had bilateral meetings with defence ministers from Italy, France and Greece.

Discussions with his Italian counterpart, Elisabetta Trenta, focused on identifying ways to develop military cooperation both bilaterally and within the strategic partnership between the two countries.

The meeting with French Defence Minister Florence Parly focused on developing bilateral defence co-operation and priorities on NATO and EU agenda on the priority topics included in the European defence project. During a meeting with Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Apostolakis, issues related to the modernization and equipping of the two armies were discussed and ways to improve cooperation between the two states in the field of naval defence, cyber defence and military mobility were assessed.

 

MILITARY ACQUISITIONS AND DEFENCE INDUSTRY                                                                                                                           

The first anti-tank weapons delivery under the multinational NATO project 

Thanks to this project, Denmark, France and the Netherlands received the first batches of anti-tank equipment within the NATO-led "Land Battle Decisive Munition - LBDM" multinational project.

Brief History. The desire of NATO member states to jointly take over the burden of purchasing military equipment found materialization on June 29, 2017 when defence ministers from Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and NATO partner Finland, have initiated a completed project with a letter of intention. At that time, it was hoped to launch a new framework for cooperation, promising more favourable terms for the acquisition of equipment, weapons and munitions critical to land forces. The signatories were looking at the possibility of purchasing them at a lower price and, last but not least, the harmonization of stocks and the long-term implementation of common storage solutions. At the time, NATO Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller welcomed the initiative, saying it will “increase our ability to share our munitions and work more smoothly and effectively in the field.”

At the NATO Summit in Brussels in July 2018, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by 16 NATO allies[1] and three NATO partners makes the LBDM Project effective. The project is managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) on behalf of the Allies and allows to acquire land munitions, including mortars, artillery shells, rockets, and missiles, in a more cost-effective and flexible way. The fast delivery timeline demonstrates that multinational cooperation can enable Allies to tackle shared requirements in a cost and time efficient way.

Along with the Air to Ground Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) program, specific for Air Forces, operational from 2018, with the first command already delivered and with the intention of establishing such a program for Navy, the Allies demonstrate their willingness to efficiently spend their financial resources. Also, to achieve greater flexibility for ammunition stocks, to be easily shared and exchanged between the participants and ultimately to reduce the cost of acquisition by aggregating individual requirements.

Unfortunately, the Romanian Ministry of Defence is not found in these programs.

 

NATO Communications and Information Agency - NCIA announces the NITEC19 Conference

This year, May 20-22, will be held in Oslo, Norway, NITEC19, the annual flagship Industry Conference in Organizing the NCIA Agency and AFCEA TechNet International.

The NATO and the High North: Technology Ultramarathon conference will focus on advancing technological solutions and business practices to strengthen NATO operations from the South to the High North.

Organized in collaboration with the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, the conference will bring together more than 700 senior government, military and industry leaders. Participants will have the opportunity to identify the key issues and how to address them on central focus areas for NATO such as big data, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and machine learning.

Although the conference will be focused on Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), the Information Technology and the technological challenges, it will be something new in the relation with the business’s environment.

For the first time, participants will have the chance to look forward to future business opportunities to support NATO and its mission.

Small and medium-sized businesses can even participate in a one-on-one session with NCI Agency acquisition experts and industry peers. It is a great way to learn best practices for competing for NATO contracts.

Also, academia and small businesses will be able to showcase their state-of-the-art technological solutions through an innovation challenge designed especially for them.

On this occasion, NATO launches the 2019 Defence Innovation Challenge for Start-ups, SMEs and academic institutions operating on the most advanced technologies in all 29 NATO nations. An opportunity and a great way for a wide range of companies and organizations to share innovative products and services with the NCIA Agency.



[1] Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. NATO partners Austria, Finland, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia