A NATO that is more focused on the security challenges of the 21st century, outlining the transition strategy in Afghanistan and strengthening interaction with external partners such as Russia. These are the key issues for the Atlantic Alliance Summit taking place in Lisbon on 19 and 20 November. Minister Frattini and his colleague at Defence, La Russa, reported today on the Summit to the joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees of the Chamber and Senate.
The Afghanistan chapter. Minister Frattini reminded the Committees that the disengagement in the various provinces will not be outlined in detail in the transition strategy, which begins in spring 2011 and ends in 2014. Such details would be a favour to terrorism. The transition will involve a “progressive reduction in the combat forces” on the ground and an increase in economic development support and training initiatives for the Afghan police and armed forces.
La Russa pointed out that over the next few months a further 200 instructors will join the Italian contingent. As regards the transition, the Defence Minister expects the transfer of responsibility to the Afghan authorities in the Herat district, Italy’s operations centre in Afghanistan, to take place in 2011. In any case, he added, the dates for the possible disengagement of Italian and NATO military personnel “are closely tied to our effectively achieving results on the ground”.
The question of relations with Russia will also be addressed in Lisbon, with a view to establishing closer relations with our external partners. NATO and Russia, reported Frattini, will sign a joint document on the “security challenges of the 21st century”. In this respect the field of collaboration will extend not just to Afghanistan but, inter alia, to piracy, combating drug trafficking and IT piracy. NATO also has an “ambitious” project to involve the Russian Federation in the common anti-missile defence project scheduled for discussion at the Lisbon Summit. As Frattini said, this is the best, concrete way to “allay Russia’s historic perception and fears” that the project is directed against the Russians themselves.
The Alliance’s New Strategic Concept to respond better to current security challenges will also be approved at the Summit. These challenges include the missile and nuclear threat, “cyber defence” and energy security – all of which increasingly require a comprehensive approach, an approach involving the development of civil alongside military capacity. Also envisaged is a rationalisation of structures to reduce costs and make the organisation more dynamic and less static in nature.