The Interpressnews interview on the NATO Summit in Madrid with Prof. Dr. Khatuna Burkadze, Director of American and Euro-Atlantic Studies at Geocase, an alumna of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the Harvard Program on Negotiations.
- On June 29-30, 2022, the NATO Summit was held in Madrid. Against the backdrop of ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine, how do you evaluate the results of the NATO Madrid Summit?
- NATO Leaders met in Madrid at a pivotal time for international security. They changed the Strategic Concept for the Alliance and adopted the new concept. According to this document, the Russian Federation is the most significant and direct threat to Euro-Atlantic security and stability. The Allies highlighted that the Russian Federation has violated the norms and principles that contributed to a stable and predictable European security order. The Alliance will continue to respond to Russian threats and hostile actions in a united and responsible way. NATO will significantly strengthen deterrence and defense for all Allies, enhance resilience against Russian coercion, and support partners to counter malign interference and aggression.
NATO will deepen cooperation with partners that share the Alliance’s values and interest in upholding the rules-based international order. NATO will enhance its support to partners affected by Russian threats including Georgia to strengthen their defense capabilities.
The Transformative Madrid Summit has illustrated that NATO has a clear vision at a critical time for international peace and security. The Allies want to live in a world where sovereignty, territorial integrity, human rights, and international law are respected and where each country can choose its path, free from aggression and coercion. Member states of the Alliance work with all who share these goals. They stand together, as Allies, to defend their freedom and contribute to a more peaceful and secure world.
NATO leaders underlined: “The Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine has shattered the peace and gravely altered the security environment. Its brutal and unlawful invasion, repeated violations of international humanitarian law, and heinous attacks and atrocities have caused unspeakable suffering and destruction”.
Member states of the Alliance agreed to provide strong military and financial support to help Ukraine uphold its right to self-defense, as enshrined in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. They emphasized that a strong, independent Ukraine is vital for the stability and security of the Euro-Atlantic area.
Regardless of Russian ultimatums, NATO leaders invited Sweden and Finland to join the Alliance. This historic decision has demonstrated that the NATO enlargement process is irreversible. Maintaining an open-door policy is significant for Georgia which aspires to become a member state of the Alliance. This precedent allows us to convince the allies that Georgia can join NATO without granting Membership Action Plan (MAP). Furthermore, because of the dynamic development of NATO-Georgia relations, Georgia has very practical and result-oriented formats that include the NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC), Annual National Program (ANP), and the refreshed Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP). These instruments have created possibilities for the country to undertake preparations for membership in the Alliance.
- NATO Secretary-General invited the Georgian Prime Minister to Madrid Summit. The Georgian Prime Minister attended the special session of the North Atlantic Council. How do you assess the outcomes of the NATO Madrid Summit in the context of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic perspective?
- The new strategic concept reaffirmed the decision made at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that heralded a qualitatively new stage for Georgia on its Euro-Atlantic path, as the country received a political promise from all NATO member states that Georgia will become a member of the Alliance.
At the same time, NATO leaders agreed that they will continue to strongly support the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of countries aspiring to become members of the Alliance. They will strengthen political dialogue and cooperation with those who aim to join the Alliance, help strengthen their resilience against malign interference, build their capabilities, and enhance practical support to advance their Euro-Atlantic aspirations. The allies will continue to develop partnerships with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine to advance common interests in Euro-Atlantic peace, stability, and security.
In light of the changed security environment in Europe, the allies have decided on new measures to step up tailored political and practical support to partners, including Georgia. The Tailored Support Document for Georgia, approved at the Madrid Summit, sets forth concrete measures for furthering Georgia’s defense capabilities and strengthening NATO’s effective engagement in this process.
Overall, because of the analysis of the existing situation, it is essential to decide to fulfill the political promise made at the 2008 Bucharest Summit. I think that Georgia’s NATO membership is a real security guarantee that has no alternative, especially, considering that Georgia possesses all practical instruments of NATO membership and can contribute to the enhancement of Euro-Atlantic security.
- The Alliance has announced plans to increase the number of its forces at high readiness to over 300,000 troops. How do you evaluate this decision?
- The North Atlantic Alliance’s decision on huge upgrading NATO Response Forces intends to enhance deterrent instruments to overcome the direct threat coming from the Russian Federation and especially protect the eastern flank. The NATO Response Force (NRF) is a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force. NRF can be deployed rapidly in the event of an attack. The Alliance is prepared for all the contingencies.
Furthermore, President Joe Biden has announced that the United States will establish a new permanent army headquarters in Poland and deploy additional forces across the length and breadth of Europe in response to threats from Russia. At the same time, the U.S. is also stepping up its rotational deployments of troops to Romania and the Baltic region. It would enhance US-NATO interoperability in Europe and create new additional security guarantees for providing security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.
President Joe Biden re-emphasized that the U.S. is committed to defending every inch of NATO territory. Allies underlined their commitment to Transatlantic security and sacred commitment to the Alliance’s Article 5. Collective defense is the cornerstone of the North Atlantic Alliance. The NATO leaders underscored the need to significantly strengthen their deterrence and defense as the backbone of Article 5 commitment to defend each other.
- In the changing security environment, it is necessary to ensure security and stability in the Black Sea region. At the NATO Madrid Summit, what kind of decision did NATO leaders take regarding the Black Sea region?
- According to the new strategic concept the Black Sea region has strategic importance for the Alliance. The Alliance will continue to support the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of interested countries in this region. The NATO leaders will enhance efforts to bolster their capabilities to address the distinct threats and challenges they face and boost their resilience against malign third-party interference and coercion.
The existing situation has made the issue of enhancing the security of the Black Sea region even more urgent. In this context, Georgia, as the Black Sea littoral state, can make a significant contribution in terms of security as well as economy.
In light of the changed geopolitical reality, it is critically necessary to take further steps for the containment of Russia’s aggression in the Black Sea region. Without the stability of the Black Sea region, the security of entire Europe hardly can be ensured and defended in the future.