#NATODAYS2020: Round Table – NATO Partnerships in Action: the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine
On December 15, IDC on NATO held a round table on “NATO Partnerships in Action: the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.” The event was organized in the context of the NATO Days, 2020 edition. The purpose of the event was to share the benefits of partnerships with NATO and to bring the topics of this cooperation closer to the attention of the public. The event was attended by academia, civil society, civil servants, the media and representatives of the strategic partners of the Republic of Moldova. The speakers were:
– Gheorghe Leuca, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration
– Radu Burduja, Military Representative of the Republic of Moldova to NATO
– Kristina Baleisyte, Head of NATO Liaison Office in the Republic of Moldova
– Gerlinde Niehus, Deputy Director, Defence Institutions and Capacity Building, NATO HQ
– Elena Marzac, Executive Director of the Information and Documentation Center on NATO in Moldova
– Viorel Cibotaru, Director of the European Institute for Political Studies in Moldova, Minister of Defense in 2015
– Vineta Kleine, Director of the Information and Documentation Centre of NATO in Ukraine
– Nata Koridze, Deputy Director, NATO Integration Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia
– Kęstutis Kudzmanas, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lithuania in Moldova
The event can be watched here:
Gheorghe Leuca, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, mentioned that NATO has shown openness to deepen partnerships with countries that face high risks to their security, such as the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. The government aims to boost political dialogue and practical cooperation with the North Atlantic Alliance. Judging on the partnerships with NATO, Gheorghe Leuca mentioned that there has always been a “win-win” relationship – on the one hand they make a substantial contribution to the implementation of NATO’s goal of promoting security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area, and on the other, partner countries benefit from the Alliance’s assistance in promoting democratic reforms and developing their own security and defense capabilities and strengthening their security. The Republic of Moldova is interested in making the most of the opportunities offered by NATO to partner countries under various cooperation programs and instruments to develop its own security and defense capabilities. A special attention in this regard is given to the Defense Capacity Building Initiative (DCBI). Likewise, the Republic of Moldova emphasizes counteracting hybrid and cyber threats. In order to ensure cyber security, the Republic of Moldova has benefited from several projects within the Science for Peace (SPS) program. Other initiatives mentioned by the Secretary of State include Building Integrity (BI), implementing UN Resolution 1325 – Women, Peace and Security, strengthening biological mitigation capabilities, managing exceptional situations and participating in peacekeeping missions in Kosovo. For the first time, the Secretary of State announced that from 2021, the implementation of the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) Republic of Moldova-NATO 2021-2023 will begin.
Radu Burduja, Moldova’s Military Representative to NATO, said that since Moldova’s accession to the Partnership for Peace in 1994, the armed forces have benefited from military programs, training and exercises, which have been of great value to the country. The main purpose of the Ministry of Defense’s cooperation with NATO is to develop and improve military capabilities in order to defend our national interests, territorial integrity and independence. In this regard, NATO has provided us with a wide range of cooperation programs and tools, which help us to become a security provider in the region, not just a consumer.
Referring to NATO commitments, Kristina Baleisyte, Head of the NATO Liaison Office in the Republic of Moldova, mentioned that NATO is a political-military Alliance: commitment to the values of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and political dialogue are central to its internal cohesion, as well as to its partnerships with other nations and organizations. Earlier this year, the Secretary General launched the NATO 2030 initiative to reflect on how the Alliance should continue to evolve in the next decade and beyond, and how it will continue to deliver on its core tasks in a more uncertain world. Among the priorities are to ensure that NATO remains strong militarily, and further strengthens its political dimension. Political dialogue has been and will remain crucial in NATO partnerships.
Gerlinde Niehus, Deputy Director of Defence Institutions and Capacity Building, NATO HQ, spoke about the context of partnerships. She mentions that the peace and security of our nations and our people is directly linked to the world around us. Today we are facing a range of threats that are diversifying, proliferating and intensifying. The global security environment is characterized by constant competition between states. This has already led to confrontation and conflict – and calls for more cooperation as a counterbalance. Working with partners has become part of NATO’s DNA. As today’s challenges know no borders, we work with partners to develop a common understanding of these challenges and, when appropriate, develop a common approach to dealing with them. However, the partners are and remain sovereign in terms of the relationship with NATO. Usually the nature of partnerships lies in the exchange of information of common interest, counseling of defense institutions, interoperability, the willingness to work with NATO because they support its values and principles or maybe because they want to become members. Referring to the Republic of Moldova, Gerlinde Niehus said that even during the pandemic, NATO continued to collaborate with the Republic of Moldova through the Individual Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), NATO’s Defense Capacity Building Initiative (DCBI) and the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP).
Elena Marzac, Executive Director of IDC on NATO in the Republic of Moldova, mentioned that the partnership with the North Atlantic Alliance is a mechanism for harnessing the European option for the Republic of Moldova. The main strategic objectives assumed by our country, according to the IPAP, are to achieve European integration, intensify dialogue and deepen relations with Euro-Atlantic structures, providing an opportunity to strengthen national security and state defense capabilities. Cooperation with NATO does not run counter to the national interest of the Republic of Moldova in ensuring the country’s sovereignty and integrity under conditions of neutrality and is based on the need to modernize the security and defense and related sectors. The projects implemented with the assistance of the North Atlantic Alliance address all categories of citizens and respond to the challenges and threats facing our country in particular, but also to threats at regional and international level. Our country has benefited from access to the defense planning mechanisms provided by the North Atlantic Alliance, which have had a positive impact on the development of our defense and security capabilities. The Republic of Moldova has received NATO advice and assistance in defense reforms, including the development of strategic documents, but also the identification of an optimal force structure and military capabilities needed to strengthen it. In the second phase, NATO will already provide technical assistance and advice to the Republic of Moldova for the development of its force structure, capabilities and infrastructure, appropriate doctrine and education. Based on surveys conducted in recent years, about 20% of the population of the Republic of Moldova want to join NATO.
Viorel Cibotaru, Director of the European Institute of Political Studies in Moldova and Minister of Defense in 2015, mentioned that the partnership with NATO is extremely important for the Republic of Moldova. Interoperability with the North Atlantic Alliance has been, is and will be necessary for the Republic of Moldova in crisis situations such as the pandemic, especially in the field of military medicine capacity utilization, capabilities to conduct transport operations in countries where the pandemic situation is extreme. Viorel Cibotaru also mentioned that he would have wanted our country to be more visible and active in this regard.
Vineta Kleine, Director of the NATO Information and Documentation Center in Ukraine, said that this year was unusual in the collaboration between the Alliance and Kyiv. Even though it was a year of crisis, the collaboration deepened. NATO provided Ukraine with medical equipment and financial resources, and Ukraine sent medical personnel to Italy. NATO provides significant support for security and defense sector reform, with Ukraine being one of the 6 countries in the Enhanced Opportunities Program. Through various instruments, NATO has offered Ukraine over 40 million euros for strengthening its Command and Control capabilities, logistics, standardization, medical rehabilitation, etc. Since 2015, NATO has been assisting Ukraine in Strategic Communication, counteracting propaganda and identifying hybrid threats. Through the Science for Peace (SPS) program, NATO offers Ukraine the opportunity for its scientists to work alongside those of NATO members in areas such as energy, security, counter-terrorism and cyber defense. Since 2014, Ukraine is the largest beneficiary of the SPS program, and in 2020, 13 SPS projects are ongoing. Vineta Kleine mentions that Ukraine is a valuable partner, and the partnership is long-term and of mutual interest. 2020 has shown how important this relationship is. Referring to the citizens’ perception about NATO, Vineta Kleine mentions that after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukrainians are increasingly looking positively at the cooperation with the Alliance.
Speaking about Georgia’s relationship with NATO, Nata Koridze, Deputy Director of NATO Integration Department of the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the partnership with NATO is supported by the majority of Georgians, and the integration into the Alliance and the European Union is at the top of the country’s foreign and security policies, as stipulated in the constitution. Georgia is present in all NATO partnership programs. In the military field, Georgia collaborates with NATO on all areas crucial for its resilience to security risks: air and maritime defense, crisis management, information exchange, etc. The renewal of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) will bring the two sides even closer. The deteriorating strategic and security environment in the Black Sea motivates Georgia to engage in an uninterrupted dialogue with NATO. Georgia participates in joint training exercises and has demonstrated its capacity to participate in joint NATO missions, e.g. in Afghanistan. Nata Koridze mentions that the partnership with NATO is unique. Georgia aspires to become a member as soon as possible and, in fact, is already acting as a NATO member by fulfilling its commitments. Georgia welcomes the fact that the 2020 NATO report reaffirms the policy of open doors.
Offering the perspective of a NATO member country on partnerships, E.S. Kęstutis Kudzmanas, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Lithuania to the Republic of Moldova (NATO Contact Point Embassy), mentioned 3 levels of cooperation with the countries that have signed the Association Agreement with the EU – Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. Each partnership is individual and tailored to specific needs. The first level is cooperation with NATO; the second level is collaboration with the Eastern Partnership countries through the European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP); the third level is bilateral cooperation with Alliance members. The Ambassador noted that Lithuania is consulting on the reform of the security sector in Ukraine, assisting in the development of the Strategic Communication, providing military education for civilian and military employees. Lithuania also has a rehabilitation program for war-wounded Ukrainian soldiers. It regularly organizes military exercises with Ukraine. In its relations with Georgia, Lithuania also assists through the training of the armed forces at various levels. For the Republic of Moldova, Lithuania offers military training and education in different fields. Lithuania also consults the Republic of Moldova on the human resources segment, in particular recruitment and mobilization. The Embassy as a NATO Contact Point also focuses on cooperation with civil society in areas of hybrid warfare such as misinformation and false news. Ambassador Kudzmanas stressed the importance of deepening and expanding cooperation to strengthen the capacity of states to respond jointly and effectively to hybrid threats. The Ambassador mentioned the need to improve the understanding and adaptation of society to modern challenges, specifying the important role of civil society involvement in the process of increasing society’s resistance to current threats.
The project “NATO Days 2020″ is implemented with the financial support of the NATO Public Diplomacy Division.