Center for Strategic Decision Research


Lessons from the Southern Region and the Black Sea

His Excellency Júlio Castro Caldas
Defense Minister of Portugal

Commitment to dialogue and to cooperation is the most valuable lesson we can apply to any region of the word. Lessons from the Balkans have shown the need to reinforce European military and civilian capabilities. The Common European Security and Defense Policy is a step to meet that need, and is a good example of our wish to cooperate and increase our ability to respond efficiently to crisis situations threatening peace and stability. I would like to stress Portugal's conviction that this policy will serve our security purposes, reinforcing the instruments that are already at our disposal. As an Ally and a European Union member, Portugal is strongly committed both to NATO and EU efforts to strengthen our military capacity, our preparedness, and our readiness to face any conflict situation that might put our own peace and stability at stake.


Although our attention for the last several years has been focused mainly on other areas of conflict and instability, the Mediterranean area should also merit our attention. The long list of new security risks coming from the Southern region that we must face and combat include illegal immigration; terrorism; illicit trafficking in arms, drugs, and human beings; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and religious fundamentalism. A comprehensive policy to prevent these risks must take into consideration the need to promote democracy and human rights and to increase the area's standard of living. This policy must be based on deep and meaningful dialogue and cooperation covering political, military, social, and economic dimensions. For the last several years, Portugal has been involved actively in promoting policies that deal with the problems affecting the stability and security of the entire Euro-Atlantic area as well as the Southern European countries in particular. During our 2000 EU presidency we approved a Common Strategy on the Mediterranean Region, which reflects the critical importance we attach to the area. Portugal is deeply committed to increasing stability and security in this area and pursues this goal bilaterally as well as through multilateral channels. Two important channels are the Barcelona Process within the European Union and the Mediterranean Dialogue within NATO.


In addition to engaging in political dialogue and cooperation, we have established institutionalized military cooperation with Morocco and Tunisia. One of the most important of our cooperative efforts is a vast and diverse military training program. As part of this program we focus not only on military achievement but on other goals as well, including the promotion of democratic values.

The Barcelona Process. Through the Barcelona Process, the European Union has committed itself to developing a coherent partnership with 12 Southern Mediterranean countries. The partnership covers three different dimensions: politics and security, economics and finances, and social, cultural, and human affairs. The political and security partnership includes political dialogue, partnership-building measures, and the Charter for Peace and Stability. Unfortunately, much remains to be accomplished in this area, and the Middle East conflict has jeopardized our efforts. Nevertheless, we remain committed to this process, including the approval of the Charter, a politically and morally binding agreement whose purpose is to prevent crises and maintain peace and stability through cooperative security. The economic and financial partnership is designed to support the Mediterranean Partners' efforts towards a sustainable economic and social development strategy for the entire region. A total of 9 billion Euros were committed to the Mediterranean region between 1995 and 1999, through the MEDA program, EU grants, and loans from the European Investment Bank. This sound amount reflects a meaningful commitment to this region. The third partnership, in social, cultural, and human affairs, fosters mutual understanding among peoples of the region through increased cooperation with the civilian society.

The Mediterranean Dialogue. Portugal believes that the Mediterranean Dialogue within NATO is of great importance. Through this process we aim to promote stability and security through information, training, and cooperation. At the Washington Summit the Mediterranean Cooperation Group was endorsed by Allied heads of state and governments to enhance both the political and practical dimensions of the dialogue. The group has a progressive and non-discriminatory nature, which has answered some of the concerns of these states. In addition to political discussions that enable information sharing and exploration of views on a range of issues relevant to security, the Mediterranean Dialogue provides a practical program that supports confidence building through cooperation regarding security-related issues. The program focuses on information, civil emergency planning, science, crisis management, defense policy and strategy, humanitarian issues relating to land mines, and the military. Cooperation through the Mediterranean Dialogue is essential for promoting stability. The program is based on an idea similar to the Partnership for Peace program. However, we do not copy the PFP model, but support a better-organized and substantive program with "a la carte" initiatives from which our Mediterranean friends can choose those that are best designed to fulfill their needs. The activities within the Mediterranean Dialogue take place on a self-funding basis. The Alliance has already agreed to consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests for financial assistance in support of Mediterranean Dialogue Partner participation. This is the way to go, and those Allies that are strongly committed to strengthening the Mediterranean Dialogue will continue to work for generous assistance. Further proof of our commitment to the Mediterranean Dialogue is the presence of a Portuguese Contact Point Embassy in Morocco. From our PFP experience, we learned the importance of such embassies. Now the Alliance has applied the same principle to the Mediterranean region. The Portuguese Embassy in Rabat is now the Contact Point Embassy in Morocco.


There is still a long way to go in our continuing efforts to bring security and stability to the Mediterranean region. We must show these countries a genuine desire for dialogue and cooperation, since misunderstandings sometimes occur. The process is not easy, but we have learned from our Balkan experience that everything should be done to avoid instability and conflict. Preventing conflict and employing a comprehensive and sustainable approach must remain our priorities. Our motto should be: "Avoid the need to react."


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