Summary of the master class “NATO Global Partnerships: A New Approach to Security?” at the 2012 Annual Members’ Conference.

H.E. Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates
H.E. Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Ambassador of Finland
The Hon. Frank Kramer, Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council
H.E. Peter Taksøe-Jensen, Ambassador of Denmark
Moderated by Mr. Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President, Atlantic Council

This master class on NATO Global Partnerships brought together three Atlantic Council ambassadorial members together with Frank Kramer, Council’s board director and distinguished fellow, to assess ways that the Alliance can strengthen relations with appropriate partners who want to be associated with the Alliance and offer meaningful contributions. The discussion, moderated by Council’s Executive Vice President Damon Wilson, touched upon multiple issues surrounding partnerships in collective security.

Forging closer links with worldwide partners in Asia, Africa, and in the Middle East will be crucial to guaranteeing future security in the Euro-Atlantic area. Over the past two decades, the Alliance has developed a network of structured partnerships with countries from the Euro-Atlantic area, the Mediterranean, and the Gulf region, as well as individual relationships with other partners across the globe. However, these initiatives are no longer positioned to reflect current and future multifaceted challenges, which include turmoil and unrest in the MENA region, assertive China, and the fall of the West, both ideologically and in terms of projection of its economic and military power.

Therefore, we need to have partners to help the Alliance to find a way forward. It will be now crucial to develop partnerships in an effective and mutually beneficial matter. NATO’s new partnership policy should provide appropriate partners a platform for dialogue and consultation and also assess ways how to enhance capabilities development, interoperability, and put more focus on education, training, and exercises. Thus, the new policy should reinforce NATO’s existing partnerships by strengthening consultation mechanisms and by facilitating more substance-driven cooperation.

In addition, a thoughtful dialogue with appropriate partners is needed to understand their security concerns and desired areas of cooperation they would like to pursue with NATO. Ultimately, an effective partnership with NATO expands a respective nation’s security, and given the volatile security environment in the Middle East and North Africa, we need to start getting ready for various types of contingencies together.

The discussants also agreed that the significance of the Chicago summit will become more remarkable in the future, as we can’t afford to ignore this urge for an effective partnership network. NATO needs partners to stay relevant. At the same time, it is crucial to adopt a notion that partnerships are not a choice between staying at home or going global. It is not peripheral to Alliance’s business–it is part of NATO’s core business and ultimately leads to our better preparedness for fulfilling NATO’s central Article 5 collective defense obligations.