NATO PA calls for strong response to security challenges
Istanbul, 21 November 2016 – NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly on Monday called for a strengthening of the Alliance’s defences - including by increased investment to boost military capabilities - in response to threats from Russia, terrorism and instability in the Middle East.
“We must further strengthen NATO’s deterrent by increasing the number of NATO troops deployed in the Baltic States, Poland and Romania: prepositioning more equipment; and investing in the infrastructure that will enable and accelerate reinforcements,” said US Congressman Michael R. Turner, outgoing president of the NATO PA. “We must also continue to reverse past cuts in our defence budgets, and to reduce imbalances among allies.”
The Assembly’s annual session drew over 230 lawmakers from the 28 NATO allies, and more than 20 associate, partner and invited delegations, to Istanbul. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addressed Monday’s plenary meeting.
In his address to lawmakers, Erdogan noted that Turkey was in the frontline of 21st century challenges and reaffirmed his country’s commitment to NATO, calling Turkey “an indispensable member of the Alliance.” He also stressed that NATO was “not just a common defence organisation. It was always an alliance of countries loyal to democracy, and should remain as such”.
Over the three-day session, NATO PA legislators condemned the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey and commended Turkey’s people and parliamentarians for their resistance.
However, several raised concerns about the wave of dismissals and arrests since the failed putsch, including the detention of opposition lawmakers and journalists. Referencing these discussions, Turner addressed Erdoğan, stating that “during this session our members have voiced their continued concern that these judicial proceedings be based upon public and clear evidentiary findings.” “NATO is the most successful alliance in history because it is united in its belief in and commitment to shared values”, he continued. “And as members of this alliance, it is the duty of each and every one of our nations to protect these values and defend each other.”
Erdoğan insisted the response is necessary to defeat those behind the coup attempt, who he called terrorists. All the measures are in line with the rule of law, he said.
“Our ultimate aim is to neutralize terrorist organizations and eradicate them from our system, and to this end we are taking all sorts of measures,” Erdoğan told the Assembly. “We are taking these measures to protect our state and institutions, and of course within the limits of our constitution and respect for the rule of law.”
The Assembly passed resolutions urging governments to enhance NATO’s defences, maintain a robust response to Russian belligerence, and tighten cooperation in the fight against terrorism. The call for nations to redouble efforts to meet NATO’s 2 percent of gross domestic product defense budget target, was taken up by Stoltenberg. He stressed the importance of narrowing the gap between US and European defense spending.
“Better burden sharing will make the trans-Atlantic bond even stronger,” Stoltenberg said. “On the issue of declining defence spending we have a seen a shift … We are moving in the right direction, but we have a long way to go.”
The NATO PA elected Italian deputy Paolo Alli as its president following the end of Turner’s two-year term. “We must be strongly united in facing the challenges surrounding our Alliance,” Alli said. “We must also cointuine to focus on the changing strategic horizon.”