The NATO PA Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group (GSM) provides a forum for parliamentarians from NATO countries and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to discuss political and security issues and to enhance co-operation.
The NATO PA was one of the first institutions to engage with the region, starting a dialogue with MENA countries already in the early 1990s. The GSM was launched in 1996 as a formal mechanism to address regional challenges, and engage leaders from the region in constructive dialogue.
The GSM resembles a Committee in structure and tasks but it comprises members from all five Assembly Committees. It holds one or two annual seminars where the yearly information report is presented and discussed. The report approved by the GSM is then presented to the whole Assembly during the Annual Session. Furthermore, the GSM conducts one or two annual visits each year.
The subjects covered by the Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group include:
The Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group serves as a privileged venue for strengthening political engagement with the region, as well as facilitating dialogue among partners. It provides an essential forum for deepening cooperation and building mutual understanding on common challenges.The NATO PA can also assist countries of the region to strengthen the mechanisms for parliamentary oversight over security and defence.
The GSM’s work mirrors NATO's own partnerships in the region, but it is also broader in scope.
For example, representatives from the Palestinian National Council participate as Parliamentary Observers, and the parliaments of Cyprus and Malta are invited to seminars together with other parliaments in North Africa and the Middle East.
Reflecting the increased strategic importance of the Gulf region and the launch of NATO's Istanbul Cooperation Initiative in 2004, the NATO PA started establishing links with parliamentary institutions and advisory councils in countries of the Gulf region.
The dialogue was also elevated in 2004 with the introduction of the status of Mediterranean Associate Member (now Mediterranean Associate Members and Regional Partners). In order to further integrate the Mediterranean partners into Assembly activities, this new status allowed them to participate in most NATO PA meetings, contribute to the discussion of the Assembly reports, as well as introduce amendments to the Assembly's resolutions during Sessions.
Parliaments of the region are also eligible for training courses organized for parliamentarians and parliamentary staff.
Countries that participate in the activities of the GSM
Regional Partner and Mediterranean Associate member Delegations
Parliamentary Observers Delegations from the MENA
NATO Parliamentary Assembly