The German Bundestag has published the minutes of the 68th annual meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which took place in Madrid in November 2022. Although the event revolved around security issues, the attacks on Germany’s energy infrastructure were apparently not an issue.
The German Bundestag has published the minutes of the 68th annual meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which took place in Madrid from 18 to 21 November 2022. The format, which was launched in 1955, is an information and discussion event with a focus on the security of NATO member states and their candidates and partners. A German delegation, consisting of ten members of the Bundestag and five members of the Bundesrat, also took part in the event.
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The minutes that have now been published contain the key points of the annual conference, a summary of the presentations and contributions to the discussion by the committees for politics, defence, democracy, economy and science, a summary of the plenary session and the resolutions passed.
The main focus of the meeting was the question of NATO’s future orientation towards Russia and China. Several contributors also discussed the necessary post-war post-war Ukraine actions in the event of victory.
Although security in questions of energy supply was repeatedly an issue at the meeting, according to the minutes there seemed to have been no interest in the then freshly committed attack on the German energy infrastructure by the explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines; they were not mentioned either in the lectures or in the contributions to the discussion by the participating parliamentarians.
Violation of the UN Charter must have consequences
In the Political Committee, the Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, warned of the danger of war fatigue that could set in in Europe and that social measures must be taken to counteract this. Albares believed that Ukraine’s path to EU membership was safe, and that the country’s entry into NATO would only be decided after the end of the war.
It must be made clear to the countries of the Global South, who consider the Ukraine war to be a European matter, that a war of aggression as a violation of the UN Charter would set a global precedent that could also affect the countries of the Global South themselves in the future if he would remain without consequences.
Slovakia’s general rapporteur, Tomáš Valášek, made it clear in his presentation that NATO’s strategic concept of 2022 is based on the fact that the Euro-Atlantic area no longer lives in peace. A new division of NATO troops between the eastern flank (Balkans, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria) and the reserve is needed. In addition, NATO must in future concentrate more on the Black Sea region and the Arctic.
Battle for the Arctic
As Russia expands its military presence in the Arctic, Valášek sees a possible site for future military confrontations here. Javier Colomina, the NATO Secretary General’s special envoy for the Caucasus and Central Asia, urged NATO members belonging to the Arctic Council to take the initiative on security issues in the region.
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At the same time, according to Valášek, traditional assistance under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty is losing importance in the face of unconventional threats, such as terrorist and cyber attacks.
The multiple challenges would also entail the need for NATO member states to adjust their contributions to the two percent target (two percent of member states’ gross national product for NATO). A return to the policy of the peace dividend, i.e. the reduction in armaments and defense spending, should no longer be allowed.
In the Defense Committee, France’s general rapporteur, Cédric Perrin, also advocated spending at least two percent of gross national product on military spending. The parliaments of the member states played a major role in the implementation of NATO decisions.
Forward defense and top-up
In the corresponding proposal for a resolution by Slovakia’s general rapporteur, it was said that a reinforced forward defense and a significant increase in NATO forces were essential. The Spanish defense minister Margarita Robles warned in the defense committee about the increasing influence of Russia in many African states through the mercenary group “Wagner”.
Spanish Chief of Staff Teodoro Esteban López Calderón stressed that the conflict in Ukraine was the first cyber war. He pleaded for an intensification of the exchange of intelligence between the member states in order to counteract disinformation.
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Italy’s rapporteur Roberta Pinotti said that Russia and China are trying to increase their own cyber capabilities and reduce those of NATO countries. NATO must optimize its own cyber capabilities.
In the Economic Committee, the President of the Institute Prospective et Securité en Europe (IPSE), Emmanuel Dupuy, to consider that the war in Ukraine is far from over. Due to the danger of intensive and comprehensive warfare (High Intensity Warfare) in Ukraine, NATO must strengthen its defense capabilities. The armaments industry must be boosted, especially for the production of ammunition.
Likewise, the emergence of other private militias such as the “Wagner” group and propaganda must be counteracted. Dupuy acknowledged that support for the war in NATO member states waned as the conflict lengthened. It is therefore important to convince the population to continue the war.
Two percent in the future only lower limit
Jacob Kirkegaard from German Marshall Fund of the United States pleaded for the G7 states to initiate the process of rebuilding Ukraine as quickly as possible. The United States is the most appropriate coordinator to oversee funding.
However, international support for Ukraine should not be understood as an act of charity, but rather as an opportunity for the EU to achieve economic recovery. Estimates of the cost of reconstruction range from 350 billion euros (World Bank) to 700 billion euros (Ukraine).
In his speech at the plenary session, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized that NATO was not a party to the conflict in the Ukraine war. Nevertheless, Russia represents the greatest threat to the alliance. A constructive dialogue is no longer possible. Stoltenberg conceded that one lesson of the Ukraine war was that in the future the alliance’s partners, such as Georgia, must be supported earlier and more.
According to Stoltenberg, the focus of the NATO summit in Vilnius in July 2023 would be the military spending of the member states. The previous two percent target should be set as the lower limit at the summit.
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