Center for Strategic Decision Research

Paris '07 Workshop

A View from the South

Amb Pablo Benavides Orgaz
Spanish Ambassador to NATO Pablo Benavides Orgaz (second from right) with, from left to right, Polish Chief of Defense Gen Franciszek Gagor, Italian Chief of Defense Adm Giampaolo Di Paola, Georgian Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze, and UK Amb to NATO Stewart Eldon (right).

Ambassador Pablo Benavides Orgaz
Permanent Representative of Spain
on the North Atlantic Council

"...we have to base NATO discussions on healthy political consensus.
NATO is basically political. Obviously, its roots are military in nature,
but without political debate, operations cannot be sustained."

I am calling this presentation ďA View from the SouthĒ because geography and history give added value to NATO that we have to take into account, not only for logical reasons but also because current threats come from the south. I have seven points to make regarding this view.


First, I believe that positive leadership on both sides of the Atlantic is very important for the immediate future. This for me is key, because we have to base NATO discussions on healthy political consensus. NATO is basically political. Obviously, its roots are military in nature, but without political debate, operations cannot be sustained. In that sense, let us hope that our sense of leadership will improve in the near future, because it will help Council debates as well as help our ministers and our heads of state and government to deliver.


Second, Ambassador Eldon mentioned the importance of synergy. I would call synergy the vocation of openness that the Riga Summit left with us. If you go through the declaration, you will see that NATO has never been engaged in as many different regions of the world as it is now. This obviously means that the famous global approach or comprehensive approach needs to be carried out day-to-day in our theaters, in our capitals, and in Brussels.


Third, the problem of Afghanistan is an excellent example of the asymmetric nature of today's threats. In fact, I believe that Afghanistan is going to change our culture of defense because what we have to face in the future has nothing to do with what we've faced in the past. The combination of humanitarian aspects, the risk of proliferation and terrorism, rogue states, all these categories will be acting together against our values and we have to know how to proceed.


Fourth, it is very important that, along with providing our legitimate defensive needs, we fight to maintain the present system of arms control.† Otherwise, we will open a Pandora's box that could be extremely dangerous.† This point applies not just to the NPT Treaty but also to the CFE Treat, and, in spite of the fact that in Vienna we could not go very far, we should continue working to preserve transparency and mutual trust, because these are the basis of a good arms control system. I should also point out that people are not always aware that missile defense includes more than only long-range ballistic missiles. Missile defense includes short and medium-range missile attacks but also non-state actors, and this means terrorist groups. The threat is the same for all allies, and therefore all allies should be covered against all kinds of threats, which NATO has taken into account.


Fifth, regarding Russia, the allies must remain united, and this is what we are doing. We should look beyond the rhetoric of provocation; in Brussels recently we reaffirmed the importance of keeping an open dialogue and not being afraid of being transparent with the Russians, because that may be the only way to resolve contradictions. Let us not be afraid of being clear.


Sixth, Riga was the key moment when we opened Partnership for Peace to the three countries of the Balkans. So when we talk about Kosovo, let us not forget that our approach there cannot be separated from a regional approach to the whole Balkans region. In that sense, international community unity is essential, even if we are going through a difficult moment. The Security Council Resolution is important to the Euro-Atlantic perspective.


Finally, in Riga we also opened Partnership for Peace to the Mediterranean Dialogue countries. This is proceeding well. There is more trust now, and we are talking more frankly. It is very important that we continue engaging with these countries in order to change misperceptions.†


One final point: Our work will make no sense if our societies donít understand what we are doing. We need a much more sophisticated communication strategy.

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