The Rose-Roth programme of co-operation with the parliaments of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) was initiated in 1990 by then President of the Assembly Congressman Charlie Rose and Senator Bill Roth.
The original goal of the programme was to assist partner countries in Central and Eastern Europe through their challenging transition process to democracy after the fall of the Berlin wall, which involved the implementation of difficult political and economic reforms.
The programme has evolved to include parliamentarians from an increasing number of non-NATO countries. Today it aims to enhance parliamentary awareness, to build contacts and provide experience and expertise. Particular attention is paid to promoting the principle of the democratic control of armed forces and to the development of effective parliamentary oversight of defence and the military.
The programme has received since its birth the generous financial support of US AID, the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces (DCAF), the Swiss Government, NATO, Norway, Denmark and the Parliament of Luxembourg.
The Rose-Roth Programme involves a series of seminars focused on regional and topical security issues and training programmes for parliamentary staff and members of Parliament.
The NATO PA holds two to three Rose-Roth Seminars per year.
For two to three days, members of parliaments from NATO member and partner countries meet with government officials, representatives from NATO and other international organisations, as well as experts from universities, think tanks and NGOs, to discuss one specific security issue of common interest. While seminars originally focused primarily on civil-military relations, including the democratic control of armed forces, today, they focus primarily on regional security issues in the Euro-Atlantic region and beyond. Recent themes for seminars have included stability in the Western Balkans, unresolved conflicts in the South Caucasus, Afghanistan, Central Asian security, and Arctic security, among others.
Seminars help familiarise legislators with key security and defence issues. Most importantly, they have proved an excellent tool for involving and integrating parliamentarians from partner parliaments in Assembly activities. By bringing together parliamentarians from NATO countries with their counterparts in non-member parliaments, the Rose Roth seminars help build a sense of partnership and co-operation at the legislative level. They also help improve mutual understanding among legislators of their various problems and perspectives. Parliamentarians from NATO countries get to hear the perspective of their counterparts in partner countries, and vice versa. As importantly, parliamentarians from neighbouring partner countries meet in a context which allows for more informal interactions and discussions. Where relations between neighbours are strained, this can be one of the few opportunities for such contacts.
The vast majority of seminars are hosted by partner parliaments, which favours these delegations’ sense of ownership of the Assembly’s processes and agenda, and allows for greater exposure of civil society in partner countries to NATO and broader defence and security issues.
The Assembly’s Secretariat co-ordinates an extensive training programme for the staff and members of parliaments associated with the Assembly. This programme aims to provide experience and expertise to parliamentary staff and members, particularly those working in foreign affairs and security.
These training seminars take place in Brussels and involve briefings at the Assembly’s headquarters, NATO, SHAPE, and various European Union institutions. They explore security, political and economic issues and also the mechanisms democratic parliaments employ to exercise broad oversight responsibility over national foreign and economic policy formation and implementation.
The Assembly typically runs three or four programmes each year, often at the request of parliaments. The specific programmes are tailored to meet the participants’ requirements and interests.
Parliamentary staff may also participate in the Assembly’s Research Assistant programme. This provides parliamentary staff with practical experience in the work of the Assembly and its Committees as well as an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the Brussels-based policy community.
Experienced, professional and knowledgeable staff is an important condition for members of parliament to be able to effectively exercise their oversight and decision-making function. Staff training programmes, focused in particular on staff from partner parliaments, are therefore an ongoing priority for the NATO PA. By bringing together the staff from various countries, these programmes set the scene for future co-operation and lasting links among participants.
Since 2000, the Assembly runs the NATO ORIENTATION PROGRAMME (NOP) (formerly the “New Parliamentarians Programme”)
The programme is open to parliamentarians from all member and non-member delegations involved with the Assembly who are new to international responsibilities within their parliament.
The programme is held in Brussels once a year. The substance of the programme is aimed at providing an in-depth vision into the processes and policies of NATO, SHAPE, as well as the Alliance’s evolving relationships with its many partners. It includes an introduction to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, one day of military orientation at SHAPE and briefings at NATO Headquarters.
The NATO Orientation programme has become one of the Assembly’s success stories. As well as helping the Assembly fulfil its role as a link between NATO and parliamentarians, the Programme ensures that – whether they are supportive of NATO or not – participants are better informed about NATO. Finally, the Programme provides an intangible but still real benefit: the building of contacts between parliamentarians. Through the NATO Orientation programme, legislators meet their counterparts from neighbouring states and beyond. Where relations between the nations concerned are strained, this can be one of the few opportunities for such contacts. Although no-one can predict where such contacts might lead, based on the experience of this Programme, the direction is unquestionably positive. Through the NOP the NATO PA reaches the people who will be making policy for decades to come fulfilling one of its core missions to keep members informed about Alliance issues so that they can exercise effective legislative oversight.