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Fourth Annual Security Conference: NATO Transformation - Facing New Security Frontiers
As part of its series of annual security events, the Center for the Study of Democracy held the international conference NATO Transformation - Facing New Security Frontiers on 28-29 April, 2006. It was a follow-up to the 2006 NATO ministerial meeting hosted by the government of Bulgaria. The conference contributed to the broader debate on NATO’s transformation and helped outline bold new policies, overcoming legacy relationships and trans-atlantic divides. The discussion focused on the future partnerships in managing common security challenges and longer-term political strategies for the Balkans and the wider Black Sea area. The conference was attended by NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Representatives, high-level representatives of the Alliance, EU, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Albania, Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Members of Parliaments, policy analysts, representatives of the media.

One of the main topics of the conference, addressed in one way or another by all participants, was the effort to work out a common definition of the new security frontiers. Two main aspects of this effort were focused on - geographical and functional.

From the point of view of geography, the importance of the different NATO partnerships was emphasized. Currently they encompass mainly the regions adjacent to NATO, but as security issues become increasingly global, the Alliance would need to consider ways to establish special links with countries that share its values and/or actively contribute to its operations, no matter how far these countries are situated. Enhancing the partnership approach should not come at the expense of increased bureaucracy but should rather focus on bringing added value and flexibility. Ties to new partners should not diminish the importance of the existing partnerships, nor should they encapsulate the partnerships into a group of like-minded states and societies.

From the point of view of the functional dimensions of security, it is obvious that the security frontiers have been moved as well. A political transformation is accompanying military transformation in NATO in response to shifts from one type of threat—a massive invasion—to a variety of asymmetric risks and threats coming from different sources and directions and interacting in often unpredictable ways. The purpose of political transformation is to increase the role of NATO as a forum for political dialogue on all security issues that concern the Euro-Atlantic community. NATO currently deals with peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, with fight against terrorism and security sector reform as well as with scientific cooperation, public diplomacy and political consultations.

It is crucial for the Alliance to go beyond the intergovernmental approach and reach out to other types of partners. Projection of stability is key for NATO’s future role in international security and it requires new, adequate capabilities but also partnering with various allies in critical regions. NATO alone cannot succeed in, for example, giving the Balkans or Afghanistan, the democratic, multi-ethnic and economically vibrant statehood that is indispensable for long-term stability. To achieve this goal requires the help of many other actors—institutions as well as non-governmental organizations.

One much discussed new challenge to international stability is energy security. The importance of international cooperation to protect critical energy infrastructure was highlighted during the conference. The global energy systems are vulnerable and disruption of critical infrastructure could have a variety of political, social and military implications.

A four-point agenda was outlined for the NATO and the European Union as regards alternative fuels: providing incentives for building hybrid-electric vehicles; converting to flexible-fuel vehicles; providing incentives for using carbon composite materials. Further, a focused contingency planning is required in cases of, for example, disruptions of oil supplies. An emphasis was made on this being a collective – even an Article 5 – security issue that demands and justifies the urgent focus of NATO.

Conference agenda with presentations

Media Coverage

Presentation by Mr. Robert McFarlane, Former National Security Advisor, USA (MS Power Point, 875 KB)

Third Annual Security Conference: Security Risks and Transformation -Euro-Atlantic and Regional Perspectives
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