The NATO Summit in Wales (4-5 September 2014) has been prepared at least since the middle of last year and was aimed at setting the strategy of the Alliance for the post-Afghanistan period, as the withdrawal of the international forces from that country is going to come to an end soon. It was also going to establish the strategy of the Alliance with regard to the major emergency challenges determined by the digital era the mankind has entered and which seems to be travelling through history at amazing speed.
The unexpected Ukrainian crisis, the annexation of Crimea by Russia (March 2014) and the destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine by Moscow’s ‘hybrid war’ brought a considerable change of the set summit agenda. NATO is now facing the biggest challenge in history – it has to cope with the open contestation and the forcing by Kremlin of the international order established after 1945 and consolidated after the end of the Cold War.
As an article published by ‘Washington Post’ was recently noting, we are in the ‘unthinkable situation’ that a war could break out ‘n Europe at any time. As that alone was not enough, unprecedented challenges represented by the Ukrainian dossier is complemented by major crises with important consequences on international order in the Middle East, where the constitution of a ‘caliphate’ in Syrian and Iraqi territories exponentially augments the threat of terrorism challenging global order, initially by the attempt at rewriting the political map of this important region.
Not to remind of the difficult negotiations with Iran in the nuclear dossier, the disquieting situation in the Korean Peninsula or in the South China Sea or in regions in Africa or elsewhere.
It is this extremely dangerous landscape of international order that makes the North Atlantic Alliance summit so important. The answers to be identified by the leaders of the 28 member nations as well as of the partner states (roughly 60 countries and main international organisations will attend the summit in Wales) will define the answer strategy to this unprecedented situation. In a column published a few days ago, Henri Kissinger was noting on that: ‘The order established and proclaimed by the West stands at a turning point” and “The contemporary quest for world order will require a coherent strategy to establish a concept of order within the various regions and to relate these regional orders to one another./…/ For the U.S., this will require thinking on two seemingly contradictory levels. The celebration of universal principles needs to be paired with recognition of the reality of other regions’ histories, cultures and views of their security.’
Naturally, in this perspective, the stabilisation of the situation in Europe and the extinction of the crisis hotbed in Ukraine are of utmost importance and the summit definitely has these objectives for main priorities. There is no military solution to the crisis in Ukraine, but an effective deterrence of Russia’s forceful assertiveness (Russia will not be present at the summit) calls for urgent measures (deployment of forces in Eastern Europe, revision of contingency planning, upgrading the military instrument to the demands of the ‘hybrid war’ by allocating necessary resources and so on. The Deputy to NATO Secretary General, A. Vershbow, was telling a conference at the Cardiff University two days ago: ‘Russia’s actions – attempting to alter legally recognized borders by force and actively subverting the government of a neighbouring state – pose a real threat to an open, rules-based international system, a system based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states and their right to make their own choices without fear of intimidation or interference. Russia’s actions leave us no alternative but to make some fundamental choices of our own.’ It doesn’t mean that NATO adopts a warrior posture,, numerous positions supporting the validity of the document signed by the Alliance with Russia in 1997 (the NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations ) which stipulates that neither saw the other as an enemy and that the parties would dedicate all efforts to reaching a ‘lasting and inclusive’ peace.
The summit agenda is comprehensive enough to secure a large debate on the new security challenges and tools necessary for counteracting those, with the avoidance of a new large-scale military clash, unfortunate for the fate of civilisation as a whole standing at the forefront. A huge importance from this point of view presents the adoption of a Statement to consolidate the trans-Atlantic connection, the unity of Europe and North America being the shield necessary to global order.
Based on its robust contribution to the large-scale peace-keeping operations in the last years, mainly in Afghanistan, Romania brings before the summit demands that are common to the new members of the Alliance in Eastern Europe, referring to the harmonious re-deployment of NATO forces on the continent and also specific topics that aim at high security indicators in the greater Black Sea region or supporting R. Moldova’s modernisation and geopolitical reconsideration efforts in conformity with the will of the majority of its population.
‘Historic’, ‘crucial’, ‘unprecedented’ – are some of the attributes used by the international media to describe the NATO Summit in Wales. Its outcomes will undoubtedly verify their truthfulness.