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Discussion with General Petr Pavel (Chairman of the NATO Military Committee) about NATO’s  Contribution to European Security held at Brussels, Belgium providing by Global Learning.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has daily meetings with 27 ambassadors from each state of EU to NATO, and politicians are well informed from NATO chiefs too. They drive themselves by two practices, namely, solidarity and cohesion.

NATO has two security threats to face: in the East and South. Firstly, there is extremism, terrorism and by-products of the immigration crisis across the European Union. Secondly, the Russian Federation wants to become a superpower again, they are trying to achieve national leading power.

The Russian Federation practices “snap exercises” which cannot be detected, and by these means, they attempt to disrupt the established system such that Russia will once more attain a permanent and important role. From history, we know that Russia’s current steps seek to re-establish a buffer zone, because they are concerned about further encroachment from NATO.

The security challenge for NATO is to create more stability in the Middle East and Africa, to lay the ground for better peace resolutions in the future. In Europe, they use all available tools of the EU and other nations. They are trying cooperate with “neighbours” such as Iraq, Syria and India because they may represent current or future threats.

There is only one way to neutralise terrorists, and this is through their physical destruction we know from prior experience that negotiation with terrorists does not produce the desired results. There is no other way.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a defensive organisation. They are focused on assistance rather than intervention. At present, there are lots of discussions about Libya’s future with Libyan experts.

In Estonia a developing institution is set to be constructed: a centre providing technical expertise  against cyber attacks. At present, NATO finds itself under cyber attack on a daily basis, and capabilities are growing every day from states such as Russia, Iran and North Korea. It is easier to mount attacks than it has been in earlier periods of history. The General said that they are not and never will be completely safe in this area.

The current mission in Afghanistan commenced in January 2015, but Afghanistan presents particularly complex challenges owing to the- diversity of its population and the difficulties of governance that that presents; thus, it is very difficult to make any real progress. There are about 9 groups, of which 6 are recognised as terrorists like Daesh, the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and the government of Afghanistan is always divided against itself. It requires military support from the air and ground and there will always be conflicts between peoples of diverse ethnicity for it to contend with.

Daesh, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is the newest order of business, and we have not defeated them yet. After the Iraq war, many individuals joined with the Daesh military experts in the hope of enriching themselves; it is an established practice for domestic leaders, military experts and generals to join terrorist groups in order to get a higher-paying ‘job’. Because of this, Daesh has obtained a perfect infrastructure of expertise. They have an expanding business through the sale of fuel and arms on their ‘land’. It would be easy to defeat Daesh in itself, but civilian populations of the states that they have occupied lie within their territory.

NATO seeks to achieve stability in the Middle East by other than military solutions; this is principally because of the strength of Middle East ideology; also they know that there will be no solution without al-Assad (President of Syria) in the region. Currently, they have to cooperate with al-Assad to establish a functioning government, and then remove the President of Syria by means of fresh elections.

The United States of America does not pose a threat to Europe because of the clear approach of their diplomacy and transparent leadership.

Libya cannot be considered a strategic success; there was no follow-up plan following the intervention by NATO and the U.S.A. Now, they have learnt a lesson from their mistake (the dilemma of principle and pragmatism). What they did ultimately caused more harm than good for Libya’s citizens, and they are determined to learn from this mistake.

NATO has got more nuclear players in the field. There is the challenge of North Korea which is the same for China as for the US. However, we know that North Korea is using the ‘crystal ball’ effect, which means frightening their neighbours with the possible use of a nuclear missile to get what they want; they count on the premise that if they use it, their neighbours will use it too and are scared by this idea.

France is the only country in NATO which is focused on the Sahel region in Nigeria against the terrorist group Boko Haram. The most effective weapon is cooperation among NATO members in intelligence and information sharing amongst its members.

Nigeria has not officially asked NATO for help yet, but if they do, this will lead to the commencement of a set of negotiations. Saudi Arabia is still one of the most important “partners” to the US, but they are far-from a true democracy as they are still supporting radical groups.

If a country has a positive dimension and is willing to join to NATO, or willing to solve problems through this organisation, as maybe the case with Nigeria, then NATO will offer its assistance, but NATO can not do anything without any approving by local state government. .

There are three pillars which NATO leans upon: 1st, deterrence, 2nd – crisis management (council of resolution) and 3rd, strategic partnership as with Africa, Singapore or Iceland by sharing military resources and helping or creating new opportunities for NATO.

Future membership of Finland and Sweden is not on the agenda, but their relations with NATO are the closest they have ever been because they have ratified NATO exercises and borders treaty with Ukraine.

The highest level of cooperation is on the Ambassadorial level. After this, there are two additional cooperation levels. Firstly, multilateral cooperation is about views and talks. Secondly, individual cooperation concerns action and help. On these levels, countries are also trying to be active in many programmes such as intelligence service, radio-biological defence or counter terrorism.

NATO also provides training systems for soldiers from different states. In return, they seek  trust, intelligence services, stability in the country and further information about the whole region in which they are providing assistance.