New Phase for NATO’s Strategic Concept; Keep it Short

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at a news conference after the NATO-Russia Council Ministerial meeting, 9/22/10.

From James Appathurai, NATO:  Today, we entered a new phase in the process of developing the new Strategic Concept. As you know, from his first day in office, the Secretary General selected a group of experts to prepare a report for him and asked that the process be as inclusive and as transparent as possible so the wide consultations with the public. That was sort of phase 1.

Phase 2, once the report had been completed and submitted to the Alliance was thematic discussions… discussions with the ambassadors on specific issues to provide input to the Secretary General’s thinking. He then spent his summer holiday writing it up… writing up the first draft which he presented yesterday to nations.

And now, we have entered, as I said, this new phase. What is clear already is that the process of why inclusive and transparent consultation has paid off in that… From the discussions today, we can see that the points of convergence significantly outnumbered the points of divergence. The text which the Allies now have is of course the point of departure for further discussions.

It is a short and a political document. It doesn’t just reflect changes that have already taken place over the last 10 years. It aims to drive change for the next years. The Secretary General’s aim which was shared around the table today was that it should be readable, not just to Alliance leaders but to Alliance citizens. All the ambassadors shared that view.

There will be discussions now, in the run-up to the Joint Foreign and Defence Ministers’ Meeting on the 14th of October where the strategic concept will be the main subject of discussion.

From that discussion, the Secretary General aims to receive the main political points that ministers wish to see in the document. And then, I think we will enter a more intensive period of drafting right up until the summit, at which it will be approved. …

I don’t think it’s a profound secret that the draft the Secretary General produced was about 10 pages long. And I can tell you that when he’s determined to do something, he does it. And he’s determined to keep it short. So he will be quite ruthless, I’m sure, in maintaining clarity, brevity, and a political character to the document.

And I would expect that there will be either for the summit or subsequent to the summit much more developed, more precise documents, more for the bureaucrats than for the politicians which go into much more detail in terms of implementation and targets and timelines and short term decisions and actions that need to be taken.

But the Strategic Concept has to last for 10 years. And so it has to capture political principles and long-term guidance that go beyond the day-to-day, but guide the day-to-day and shape the day-to-day for the next 10 years. So that’s sort of the guiding principles of the document.

There will be implementation texts which follow from it. But nobody wants to make this into an implementation text as well because that ends up just looking a lot like a Christmas tree.

Excerpts from press briefing by NATO Spokesman James Appathurai. (photo: AP)

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