Round Table: NATO’s partnerships during the pandemic and their perspective in the post-COVID era
IDC on NATO in cooperation with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division organized an online roundtable on “NATO’s partnerships during the pandemic and their perspective in the post-COVID era”.
The special guest of this event was the Deputy Secretary General of NATO – Mr Mircea Geoana. Other participants were the representatives from the government sector, civil society, academia, media and diplomatic corps.
We believe that the involvement of civil society and the media in the security sector is a condition for the formation of political will, as this can only be developed through the active cooperation of the civil and government sectors. IDC on NATO, being a non-governmental organization, whose main objective is to promote Euro-Atlantic values, has become a platform for communication and expertise on security, defense and Moldova-NATO Partnership.
Thus, the purpose of the round table was to bring to public attention NATO’s efforts in countering the pandemic and to connect the community of experts, representatives of government institutions, academia and the media in an event where the information such as our country’s partnership with The North Atlantic Alliance and its perspective, the support of NATO member countries in crisis management – comes from the first source, and to discuss joint security and defense sector reform programs.
The pandemic is a significant shock for the international system, with economic and political consequences and a long-term impact on global security. Efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and find the means to overcome it are crucial and require a global effort. NATO allies and partners are working together to meet this unprecedented challenge.
NATO has been inclusive in its efforts to work with partner countries and other international organizations to limit the destructive impact of COVID-19. These efforts are a visible demonstration of NATO’s solidarity and its ability to support members and partners in non-military crisis management, which is one of NATO’s core tasks.
NATO’s Deputy Secretary General’s speech began by specifying that the Secretary General is in Madrid, where a tribute ceremony is taking place for those who have been infected and died of COVID-19, but also for women and men who selflessly have supported the civilian population in this struggle, which has demonstrated the importance of partnerships, even in the case of the neutrality status of some states.
Mr Geoana went on to discuss NATO support in the fight against the pandemic. Thus, at the level of the Alliance, the military came to the aid of the civilian area, NATO provided military medicine capabilities, and contributed to the construction of mobile hospitals. The Republic of Moldova has also benefited from this support, both through NATO mechanisms and bilaterally.
On the partnerships in the Eastern region – the cases of Georgia and more recently, of Ukraine, which obtained the status of Enhanced Opportunity Partner with NATO, were mentioned, the relationship between these states with NATO being extremely structured and intense.
With regard to the Republic of Moldova, NATO is still open to continue the existing partnership, which has existed for more than 25 years, as our country’s cooperation with the Alliance implies results, such as: participation of young people from the national security sector in courses and NATO schools, projects in various scientific fields, response to proposals of the Government of the Republic of Moldova etc. Moreover, in such periods as the one we are currently experiencing, we need to develop our resilience, as we are also witnessing an explosion of misinformation campaigns and false news. A partnership with a prepared Alliance, which has functional systems, is an opportunity to develop national capabilities, as NATO is the highest standard of quality in the organization of any state.
Participants were interested in discussing: NATO’s security agenda beyond COVID-19 and what will be the areas of interest in the post-COVID period, including in collaboration with the Republic of Moldova; what is the organisation’s view on how the armed forces have been used to ensure compliance with the emergency rules in the member countries and the lessons learned from these actions; what new capabilities will be developed to meet the needs of hospital, healthcare professionals, trainers in response to coronavirus; what is the role of the media in counteracting misinformation and how can we develop cooperation between the Alliance and media representatives in Moldova; how determined will NATO be to help Ukraine if it is directly attacked by the Russian Federation; are there mechanisms for a NATO partner to ask for help; what does the new “advanced” partnership with Ukraine entail; and last but not least: what is the role of NATO partners in effectively addressing cyber and information challenges?
In response, the Deputy Secretary General noted that in addition to the central idea of keeping the Alliance’s strength, robustness and military capabilities intact and capable of discouraging any potential adversary, NATO is protecting allies from existing risks. The need to learn from each other, to share good practices and to see how a fortified set of lessons learned can be developed in order to be better prepared for other crises are actions taken by all allies.
The Republic of Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Jordan are those states where NATO and the EU work together. Thus, it is an extraordinary opportunity to expand the area of support that can be offered to the Republic of Moldova. Because a democratic Moldova, in which the order is respected, in which the will of the citizens is respected, which respects its affirmation of being an integral part of a democratic Europe, is an interest that is also shared by NATO.
The only weapon we have in the face of lies, conspiracy theories, against the false news – is the Truth, a free press and professional journalists. This is a democratic Alliance that does not feed on lies, but on truth, sometimes uncomfortable, and is a status of values.
In the case of Ukraine, as in the case of other NATO partners, the Alliance assists these countries with existing means that help transform national military and security structures into more efficient ones. With regard to cyber security, NATO has developed capabilities in the cyber field, which are significant. These capabilities are also offered to partners, if they request them, as is the case of Moldova, which has benefited from NATO assistance in developing cyber capabilities.
In conclusion, the Deputy Secretary General of NATO mentioned three key points:
1. There is an inseparable link between democracy, security and prosperity. There are three fundamental elements in order to ensure a decent life for our citizens, a present and a future, which will encourage them to stay home and want to carry on the destiny of humanity in the territories they populate.
2. The “Holy Trinity” of the relationship between the public sector, the private sector and the non-governmental and academic sector is another triad of the success of a country, a nation or a project. Without a successful public sector – with little corruption and good governance, able to manage state affairs in the public interest; without a private sector, dynamic and able to thrive – as was the case of the extremely important decision of the EU to have Free Trade Agreement with the Republic of Moldova, which also changed the structure of foreign trade of the Republic of Moldova; and without a civic sector, without an independent press, without think-tanks, without universities, without NGOs, which can develop freely and carry out their civic mission – there is no prosperity and no favorable destiny.
3. NATO and the EU are the guarantee that in Europe we will not return to certain spheres of influence and that nations, countries, leaders, citizens who freely, democratically, perseveringly choose a destination for a better system – the liberal democracy of Western type. It is a system that many countries in our region, which have joined NATO and the EU in the last 25 years, have been previously deprived of. There is no comparison between what free, democratic, prosperous, Western society represents. With all its flaws, all the problems we have, including in these difficult times of pandemic, it is a better system comparing to authoritarian systems – systems that do not breathe democratically and that do not respect this “Holy Trinity” between good democratic governance, a thriving private sector, civic sector and the freedom of the citizens in any form of expression and organization they want. In fact, NATO is about a set of values for which we are willing to defend each other and to give those who want to be with us a fair chance to do it if they want to and if this is done with perseverance.
The Information and Documentation Centre on NATO is a noncommercial, autonomous organization set up as a part of the 2006-2009 Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) Republic of Moldova-NATO. The Center promotes the Euro-Atlantic values and principles, informs the society about the multiple aspects of security, and supports the governmental institutions in security and defense sector reform.