No "reduced need for NATO"

In an interview with TransConflict Serbia, the Czech Republic’s Ambassador to NATO, H.E. Mr. Martin Povejšil, responded to a series of questions regarding the development of NATO’s future and the development of a new Strategic Concept.  

1) Why is NATO’s new Strategic Concept important – not only for NATO member states, but for the overall global security architecture?

Ambassador Povejšil – The Strategic Concept in general is the most important political document of NATO. It sets a strategic course roughly for a decade ahead. And very important feature of the Strategic Concept is its public nature. There is no secret version of it in the NATO drawers. So for members states, it means consensual picture of our security environment, its prospects and most importantly – where is the NATO place in it. And everybody in the outside world can get familiar with it. So it touches upon two crucial issues – transparency and predictability. As for the architecture question – let me say very clearly that NATO does not seek a role of global hegemon possessing a panacea for all the world security issues.

2) What is the Czech Republic’s perspective on NATO’s new Strategic Concept?

Ambassador Povejšil – For the Czech Republic, it is a historic moment. For the first time, we contribute as a NATO member state to setting the Alliance’s strategic course. There are two main issues. First, the process of drafting is as important as the outcome. At the end, everybody must be able to sign the text. So everybody gets his voice heard and reflected to the extent possible. Second, we do not seek major NATO overhaul. NATO must remain action-capable alliance able to safeguard security of its member states.

3) What concrete steps is the Czech Republic currently taking in order to ensure that its own views on the new Strategic Concept are taken into consideration?

Ambassador Povejšil – As I explained in the previous answer, the ongoing process ensures it. We take floor at different meetings, including Ministerial meetings, we have organized a seminar in Prague etc.

4) Why should Serbia participate in this on-going debate and how it can contribute to this debate?

Ambassador Povejšil – The NATO Secretary-General designed the process to be the most transparent in the history of the Alliance. The reason is clear – get a variety of views at the table. So a Serbian view would add to this wanted variety. Very soon, the report by Group of Experts will be published. Based on it, there is going to be a number of discussions in different partner formats, including the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). So Serbia, if it so wishes, can contribute through this channel. There are also other ways, such as presenting a non-paper with Serbian view.

5) How does your role as Ambassador to NATO help improve communication and mutual understanding between NATO and the Czech Republic?

Ambassador Povejšil – The Ambassador to NATO is a face of his/her nation in the Alliance and vice versa. We are called Permanent Representatives. The word “permanent” is the key to the answer – Ambassadors care for much needed continuity of communication and mutual understanding.

6) How can Serbia benefit more from the Partnership for Peace Programme?

Ambassador Povejšil – Once the NATO Office of Security certifies the Security Agreement on protection of classified information between NATO and Serbia, Belgrade will be able to choose  from a variety of tools of the Partnership for Peace. It has been using  some of them already within the framework of the Individual Partnership  Program (IPP), such as specialized seminars, courses, symposia or trainings. However, for participation in most of them the certification of the Security Agreement is a precondition, which so far has been an obstacle for full-fledged participation of Serbia in the PfP.

7) Where do you see NATO in ten years time?

Ambassador Povejšil – I do not expect any reduced need for NATO. I also do not expect any major change in the nature of the Alliance. The NATO Open Door policy will continue, including in the Balkans. In Afghanistan, NATO will have transferred the security tasks to Afghans themselves. In Kosovo, the NATO presence will have been reduced to virtual zero. NATO will continue to actively interact with its partners, including Russia. I hope to see missile defence in NATO context, comprising also cooperation with Russia. But above all – I expect persistence of vibrant, healthy and firm transatlantic bond.

Further coverage of this interview is available in both English and Serbian.

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