NATO Parliamentary Assembly


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Regional Conference on Smart Defense Cooperation and regional coordination in South Eastern Europe

Tirana, 23-24 April 2012

The delegations to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly from South-Eastern Europe gathered in Tirana on April 23-24 2012 and expressed their firm trust that our Alliance remains an essential and indispensable source of stability in an unpredictable world.

The delegations, aware that the Alliance can transform itself to meet the security challenges of the 21st century by implementing its new vision as laid down in the new Strategic Concept, reaffirmed their strong commitment to Euro-Atlantic security, emphasized the strong transatlantic bond as the bedrock of this security, and expressed their will to deepen their cooperation to help our transatlantic community grow stronger.

The delegations stressed the will to work together to preserve our prosperity and our security by prioritizing, specializing and then seeking a regional solution as the most effective way the region can emerge stronger from these times of economic difficulty and austerity measures.

The delegations pointed out that the ‘Smart Defence’ initiative is a new mindset that seeks to better align our collective requirements with national priorities in order to do more by doing it together as a long-term strategy. They discussed ways and means on the conceptualization of this approach.

The delegations encouraged the adoption of an advanced vision beyond the traditional approach, the articulation of a new mentality opening a new window on a regional Smart Defence practical cooperation. They supported the idea that capabilities which are impossible to develop separately at national levels could be developed together at bilateral, multilateral and regional levels.

The delegations agreed with the concept of the regionalization of some defence capabilities, as and when required, because this is the most efficient, and less expensive way for small countries, especially in times of austerity measures.

The delegations believe that it is the right time to build a consensus on Smart Defence cooperation under the NATO Defence Planning Process, and they endorsed new ways of cooperation in joint regional capabilities for NATO/EU-led operations, especially in those related to advice, mentoring, training, stabilization and reconstruction teams, and other specialized “niche” capabilities.

The delegations recommended urging the regional countries’ governments to promote bilateral, multilateral and regional formats of participation in NATO/EU–led missions and operations. They agreed that working together on operations is much better, much cheaper and more effective.

The delegations highlighted the special opportunity provided by Smart Defence in the area of training, education and exercises at bilateral, multilateral and regional level. All regional countries have a huge potential for specific training and education, which can be made available to other countries. Pooling and sharing training and education capabilities is an area which can be further elaborated by senior experts.

The delegations discussed a smarter development and use of regional/multinational training centres, of regional Centres of Excellence, common training infrastructure and staff facilities, based upon multinational composition, common language, common funding and command and control.

The delegations took into consideration Smart Defence options in the areas of procurement and maintenance, especially for the development of common capabilities for regional projects and systems, and encouraged the cooperation in joint procurement (funding) and maintenance of assets and capabilities.

The delegations recommended better ways to apply the Smart Defence concept at the national level of each of the SEE countries through the elimination of old and obsolete equipment, systems, capabilities, infrastructures and facilities, or parallel and duplicated capabilities - ‘Cut fat and build muscles’is the motto recommended for building future defence capabilities.

The delegations recognized the efforts made so far with regard to ‘pooling and sharing’specific defence capabilities, specialization and better prioritization for the decade ahead. They expressed their firm determination to enhance the ‘sharing and pooling’ concept at a bilateral, multilateral, regional and collective level. The delegations also recommended that the SEE countries build a menu/basket of capabilities that they think could be made available for other regional countries.

The delegations promoted Smart regional cooperation in the area of civil emergency capabilities and crisis management. Bilateral, multilateral or regional capabilities will be far more effective to manage emergency situations.

The delegations endorsed the cooperation in the area of an integrated regional Airspace Management system integrated in NATINADS, possibly together with Air Patrolling capabilities, and any type of bilateral or multilateral cooperation in the area of maritime capabilities. They encouraged the use of maritime infrastructure and facilities.

The delegations supported the idea of better joint cooperation in the area of defence research. Smart Defence requires smart solutions, which require smart people in the defence organizations, based on knowledge and innovative practices. The promotion of researchers from the SEE countries in strategic and operational research is an area to be considered in the future.

The Delegations recommended that elements of the Smart Defence approach should be incorporated into the National Security Strategies, Military Strategies, and the defence planning processes of the SEE countries.