121 CDS 16 E
NATO Parliamentary Assembly
of the meeting of the Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security
Hall A, Palace of Congresses
Saturday 28 May 2016
121 CDS 16 E
Committee ChairpersonVitalino CANAS (Portugal)
General RapporteurJoëlle GARRIAUD-MAYLAM (France)
Acting Sub-Committee on Democratic
Governance RapporteurLord JOPLING (United Kingdom)
Special RapporteurUlla SCHMIDT (Germany)
President of the NATO PAMichael R. TURNER
Secretary General of the NATO PADavid HOBBS
Joseph A. DAY
Czech RepublicTomas JIRSA
DenmarkPeter Juel JENSEN
Domenico SCILIPOTI ISGRO
NetherlandsBastiaan van APPELDOORN
United KingdomMary CREAGH
United StatesThomas MARINO
Bosnia and HerzegovinaNikola LOVRINOVIC
MontenegroObrad Miso STANISIC
Regional Partner and Mediterranean
Associate Member Delegations
Jordan Ahmad AL-SWELMEYEEN
MoroccoRachdi EL MOKHTAR
European Parliament Georgios KYRTSOS
The Palestinian National CouncilMohammed HEGAZI
Speakers Dr Enri HIDE
Lecturer in International Relations, Security and Geopolitics, European University of Tirana
Dr Ilir KALEMAJ
Director of the International Relations Master Program, University of New York Tirana
Head of International Migration Division, OECD
International Secretariat Andrius AVIZIUS, Director
Jailee RYCHEN, Coordinator
Ceylan TACI, Administrative Assistant
Kamilla SOLIEVA, Research Assistant
121 CDS 16 E
- Opening remarks by the Chairman of the Committee
1.In his opening remarks, Chairman Vitalino Canas (PT) welcomed committee members and new colleagues to Tirana. He then thanked the Albanian delegation for their outstanding job in hosting the 2016 Spring Session.
- Adoption of the draft Agenda [032 CDS 16 E]
2.The draft Agenda [032 CDS 16 E] was adopted without amendments.
- Adoption of the Summary of the Meeting of the Committee on the Civil Dimension of
Security held in Stavanger, Norway, on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 October 2015 [246 CDS 15 E]
3.The summary [246 CDS 15 E] was adopted without amendments.
- Consideration of the Comments of the Secretary General of NATO, Chairman of the North Atlantic Council on the Policy Recommendations adopted in 2015 by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly [031 SESP 16 E]
4. Members of the Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security had no comments.
V.Consideration of the draft General Report Enhancing Euro-Atlantic Counter-terrorism
Capabilities and Cooperation [033 CDS 16 E] by Joëlle GARRIAUD-MAYLAM (France), General Rapporteur
5.Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam (FR) began by stating that in the past, Daesh relied on lone wolves to organise attacks against Western societies. But today, Daesh is putting more efforts into training, equipment and terrorist coordination. Daesh has taken over Al-Qaeda’s global agenda while maintaining a more robust organisational pyramid. It is more efficient, has a greater online presence, and a more robust financial base. Therefore, the risk that Daesh or related groups will stage new large scale attacks against the Western societies has to be taken seriously.
6.Ms Garriaud-Maylam noted that in general, the trend in the Euro-Atlantic community is to increase the powers of law enforcement agencies, reinforce border controls, step up electronic surveillance, and increase military assistance and actions in African and Asian countries. However, the recent attacks on the European capitals have revealed gaps in the European security and intelligence cooperation. National or bilateral efforts are no longer sufficient enough to combat cross-border terrorist networks which operate throughout the European Union. Therefore, a multinational approach is needed to tackle this issue. Although multiple mechanisms have been put in place on the European level to counter terrorism, these instruments are under-resourced and underused. In order to effectively combat terrorism, the Euro-Atlantic community needs to ensure that there is mutual trust and political will to use these instruments.
7.Ms Garriaud-Maylam concluded with a call for action. She stated that the parliamentarians need to pressure their governments and national intelligence services to cooperate more closely with their counterparts. At the same time parliamentarians need to ensure that when fighting terrorism, there is a clear and established balance between preserving personal freedom and establishing security. This requires a democratic oversight, which would enable partners to build trust and share information more effectively. Although the Euro-Atlantic community cannot completely eradicate terrorism, it can bring the threat level down by acting together to change the practices and to disrupt terrorist networks.
8.The floor was opened for discussion. Members of the committee thanked the General Rapporteur for the excellent report and presentation.
9.The Committee’s Special Rapporteur Ulla Schmidt (DE) thanked the General Rapporteur for the balance analysis between security and personal freedom. She noted that decisions on security and personal freedom cannot be solely made by the governments, but must also include other institutions and the opposition.
10.A representative from the Netherlands highlighted the problem of foreign fighters in Syria. The Rapporteur brought an example of France, where youth is born and raised in democratic societies and yet some of them are drawn to extremist ideologies. The Rapporteur suggested that in order to target these groups, governments and institutions must take measures to curb radicalisation, starting from promoting democratic values and principles at a young age.
11.A Belgian delegate used the opportunity to highlight the dissatisfaction of the inhabitants of Molenbeek with how their municipality is being represented as a breeding ground for radicalism and terrorism. Many of the Muslims living in Belgium have criticised the terrorism acts in Paris and Brussels.
12.Assembly Treasurer Marc Angel (LU) drew attention to the issue of generic terrorist legislations, which criminalise the activities of those groups, including NGOs, for communicating with terrorist groups. Indeed, in order to fulfil their mandates, NGOs in this field sometimes need to have contact with these organisations. The General Rapporteur noted that protecting NGOs and their work requires a balanced approach between vigilance and objectivity. While it may be tempting to adopt a generic and encompassing rule – for instance the law adopted in France on rendering it illegal to connect to websites that promote extremists thoughts – one must adopt a more prudent and practical approach.
13.Assembly Vice-President Thomas Marino (US) highlighted the US Congress’ efforts in ensuring the balanced approach to security and personal freedom. Mr Marino spoke in depth about the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) act, a legislation adopted by the Congress, which states that when the data is accessed abroad, security services must comply with the laws of the country of interest. The General Rapporteur praised the level of bilateral cooperation between France and the United States in counter terrorism. However, she noted that there is space for improvement.
14.A French delegate stated that a short-term goal of fighting Daesh is manageable and probably will be achieved in the near future. However, the real threat of radicalisation is at an increase and has to be addressed. The General Rapporteur noted that fighting radicalisation is essential, as it is breeds terrorism. She also pointed out the need to analyse the role of social media, which can sometimes contribute to radicalisation.
VI.Panel discussion on Political and Security Developments in the Western Balkans
- Consideration of the draft Special Report The Western Balkans: European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Challenges [035 CDS 16 E] by Ulla SCHMIDT (Germany), Special Rapporteur
15.Ulla Schmidt opened her presentation by thanking Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia for organising an outstanding visit in March 2016. The information received during this visit was integrated in the draft report. She then spoke about the developments in the region. Over the past 20 years, the Western Balkans has gone through enormous changes in order to become an area of prosperity. One of the most remarkable achievements is the establishment of the zone of security, which has so far prevented new armed conflicts from escalating. Parts of the Western Balkans, including Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, and recently Montenegro, have progressed in their integration towards the Euro-Atlantic community. However, challenges which pose a threat to the stability of the region still exist.
16.Ms Schmidt expressed concern about the negative developments in some parts of the Western Balkans, especially in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, ethnic tensions continue to hinder the country’s progress. The Special Rapporteur argued that the Alliance should reconsider its policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. Namely, NATO should review whether all conditions that were set regarding activating membership plan can be maintained. In regards to Belgrade and Pristina, the current arrangements under the April 2013 Brussels agreement provide a good basis for making progress on the EU integration path, but the ultimate membership will not be possible, until Belgrade and Pristina resolve the issue of the status of Kosovo or at least achieve a much higher level of normalisation of relations. The Rapporteur also stressed that the lack of clear membership perspective for some of the Balkan countries should not be used as an excuse to sabotage European reforms, tolerate corruption and neglect socio-economic needs for the people.
17. Alongside the issues of ethnic tensions, the membership status and the slow pace of reforms and the insufficient or distorted public knowledge of the Euro-Atlantic community are other aspects affecting the integration process. The Euro-Atlantic community needs to do more in order to explain what NATO stands for and what its actions are. Sensitive issues such as the 1999 military campaign in Serbia have to be addressed, in order to make it clear that NATO exists to secure peace and not to distort it. The Special Rapporteur stressed that Serbia is not lured to join the Alliance – rather it is free to choose its own security and defence path.
18.Ms Schmidt closed her presentation by addressing the effect of the migrant crisis on the Western Balkans. Out of 1.3 million people applying for asylum in the EU, more than half travelled through the Western Balkan route from Greece to Europe. Although this route has been closed at the present, there are still many people in the Balkans. It is a duty of the Euro-Atlantic community to help the Balkan nations to provide for these people. She stressed that this humanitarian crisis is also an opportunity for the Balkan nations to enhance their regional cooperation.
- Presentation by Dr Enri HIDE, Lecturer in International Relations, Security and Geopolitics, European University of Tirana
19.Dr Enri Hide noted that over the past years, the Western Balkans’ aspiration to integrate into NATO or the European Union has managed to avert the perspectives of conflict within or among the countries of the region. However, peace and stability should not be taken for granted. Corruption, lack of reforms, political instability and even unemployment has posed challenges to the region’s security and stability. In addition, there is a rise of new threats, including religious radicalisation and extremism.
20.Dr Hide proceeded to speak about the developments and challenges facing individual countries in the Western Balkans. In the case of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, political instability, corruption and deep political division prevails. Furthermore, the rights of minority groups, in particular Albanians, are curbed, he said. The future of this country is critical for the geopolitical stability of the region. In this stage of instability, NATO needs to keep its open door policy in relations to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. On the other hand, Montenegro has been invited to join the Alliance. This is an important step towards the Euro-Atlantic integration of the whole region. However, the integration has also triggered debates regarding Russia and its response to enlargement decisions.
21.In regards to Kosovo, its status continues to have an effect on the integration processes of both Serbia and Kosovo. The establishment of the Association of Serb Municipalities, which would grant Serb minority group in Kosovo greater rights than any other minorities groups, has been the latest point of tensions between Pristina and Belgrade. Meanwhile, Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to struggle with intensive ethnic tensions baring dangerous regional impact.
22.Dr Hide outlined new challenges confronting the region. First, radicalisation and violent extremism constitute a potential threat. The number of foreign fighters originating from the Western Balkans has reached its peak in 2014. Currently, governments are concerned over returnees spreading extremist ideologies at home. NATO needs to adapt to this growing threat, boosting its intelligence sharing throughout Europe, Dr Hide said. In the case of Albania, while it is known for its religious harmony, it should be monitored. The second growing threat is Russia’s interest in the future of the region which has intensified over the past few years, especially in the field of energy.
23.Dr Hide spoke in depth about Albania’s development over the past few years. Albania has been actively promoting peace and stability in the region before and after it has joined the Alliance. Albania has been an active member in the global fight against terror, contributing troops to the United Nations and the Alliance whenever asked for support. Nevertheless, as a member of the Alliance, Albania needs to balance its foreign policy and move towards improving relations with its neighbours, including Serbia. Furthermore, it has to demonstrate its commitment to the NATO’s standards by implementing reforms in order to build solid route for the future democracy of the country. In this respect, the slow pace of reforms, particularly in the field of the rule of law, has negatively impacted and slowed Albania’s integration to the European Union.
24.The two presentations were followed by a lively discussion. Members of the Committee congratulated Special Rapporteur Schmidt on the excellent report and thanked Dr Hide for the presentation.
25.A French delegate welcomed the improving relations between countries in the Western Balkans and the EU. However, he expressed concern over the stagnating situation in the Western Balkans and a failure to fight corruption, promote freedom of press, and ensure independence of the judicial system. He has also noted that the refugee crisis placed financial constraints on the Western Balkans, in particular on Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. With this in mind, he called for a greater assistance from NATO and the EU to the region. He also asked a question on Serbia’s motives for opposing NATO membership. The Rapporteur agreed with her French colleague that there is a need for additional measures and reforms to curb corruption and promote the rule of law in the region in order to ensure stability. Otherwise, it will be much more difficult to convince the population to continue supporting the path towards democracy. In regards to the negative perception of NATO amongst the Serbian population, the Rapporteur emphasised the increasing role of the Russian-orientated community in keeping the memory of NATO’s airstrikes alive.
26.Assembly Treasurer Marc Angel found it noteworthy that the draft Report refers to the fact that many cited migrants and asylum seekers in Western Europe do, in fact, come from the Western Balkans. He also expressed concern Kosovo is becoming a fertile ground for Daesh as many Kosovars leave to fight in Syria and Iraq. Dr Hide described the rise of extremism in Kosovo as a complex issue which requires a deep analysis. In the past few years, some Middle Eastern countries have heavily invested in spreading religious extremism in Kosovo. Meanwhile, in Albania, religious harmony has existed for decades. This accompanied by government efforts has diminished the number of Albanians leaving to Syria and Iraq.
27.Some of the members of the Committee proposed certain amendments to the draft report. A representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina asked for the support of the members of the Committee in the activation of the Membership Action Plan. A Serbian delegate proposed to specify that NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg repeated the statement he made in Podgorica – regretting the innocent victims of the 1999 campaign in Belgrade – when he was visiting Belgrade as well. A Greek delegate expressed objection to the use of the word “Macedonians” in reference to the majority ethnic group in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
VII.Presentation by Dr Ilir KALEMAJ, Director of the International Relations Master Program, University of New York Tirana, on Instability in Libya: Implications for the MENA Region and Beyond, followed by a discussion
28.Dr Kalemaj noted that since the overthrow of Gadhafi in 2011, the security situation in Libya has significantly deteriorated. The power vacuum and clashes between political elites pose threats to the stability and security of Libya and the region as a whole. In an attempt to create a Libyan unity government, the UN has tried to broker a treaty between the two rival parliaments; however, it has not been successful so far. As a result of the power vacuum, the oil-rich country which was once considered as the most promising is now facing a grave financial crisis.