NATO Mediterranean Initiative

Launched at the end of 1994, NATO’s Mediterranean Initiative indicates the growing importance on NATO agenda of security challenges in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean dialogue is not a military cooperation program but a political forum aiming at opening a direct dialogue with non-NATO southern Mediterranean countries in order to:

  • explain to these countries NATO organization and mission;
  • exchange views on security issues;
  • foster confidence and stability in the region

This dialogue is evolutive and mainly bilateral (2). In the first step, it concerned a limited number of Mediterranean participants: Egypt, Israel (1), Morocco, and Mauritania. After the NATO had suggested that the Dialogue should be expanded to others in the future on a case-by-case basis, Tunisia joined in February 1995, Jordan in November 1995 and Algeria in March 2000. According to NATO itself, it also aims at strengthening other initiatives such as the Barcelona process, the Middle East peace process, WEU and OSCE Contact Group.

Its goals remain however not well defined. It is unclear whether its main purpose is simply to conduct a dialogue or whether it seeks to establish in the future defence co-operation with countries of the Southern Mediterranean.

The initiative lacks of strong political support (3) and deterioration of the Arab-Israeli peace process – which has had an effect on the willingness of many Arab countries to engage in a dialogue in which Israel is part – has inhibited any further progress.

Since the th terrorist attacks of the 11th of September 2001, NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue became under increased scrutiny both in the Mediterranean region and beyond. NATO members decided to upgrade political and practical dimensions of the Mediterranean dialogue in May 2002. At the Prague Summit (November 2002), NATO member countries agreed a package of measures which included the following: the extension of NATO training to forces of Mediterranean countries, participation in joint exercises, familiarization with NATO’s doctrine, procedures, language and crisis management, joint exercises for the evacuation of civilian populations, cooperation in military medicine, programs for the development of inter-operability, search and rescue, maritime safety, and peace support operations.

On June 29th 2004, at the Instanbul conference Istanbul, the Mediterranean Dialogue of NATO has been transformed into a true partnership involving the countries of the “broader Middle East”, giving birth to the « enhanced Mediterranean dialogue. » This enhancement will include increased practical cooperation, enhancing of the Dialogue’s political dimension, and support to the process of defense reform, cooperation in the field of border security, achieving interoperability and contributing to the fight against terrorism. In addition, the Istanbul initiative provides for the expansion of bilateral cooperation to the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

__________

Notes:

(1) Israel was the first of the seven participants in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue to signed a security agreement with NATO (April 2001). This security agreement provides the framework for the protection of classified information, as defined by all 19 member countries, and is signed by countries that wish to engage in cooperation with NATO.

(2) Despite the predominantly bilateral character of the dialogue, there has been an increasing number of multilateral reunions (19+7): 23 October 2001, 9 January 2002, 22 May 2002 and 25 November 2002.

(3) i.a. from the United States – which fear an interference with its own implication in the Middle East peace process and NATO enlargement to Eastern Europe – and from southern Mediterranean countries – where some segments in plublic opinion see NATO as an Institution searching for a new enemy, namely Islam.

See also: Cooperation initiatives in the Mediterranean.

Launched at the end of 1994, NATO’s Mediterranean Initiative indicates the growing importance on NATO agenda of security challenges in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean dialogue is not a military cooperation program but a political forum aiming at opening a direct dialogue with non-NATO southern Mediterranean countries in order to:
explain to these countries NATO organization and mission;exchange views on security issues;foster confidence and stability in the regionThis dialogue is evolutive and mainly bilateral (2). In the first step, it concerned a limited number of Mediterranean participants: Egypt, Israel (1), Morocco, and Mauritania. After the NATO had suggested that the Dialogue should be expanded to others in the future on a case-by-case basis, Tunisia joined in February 1995, Jordan in November 1995 and Algeria in March 2000. According to NATO itself, it also aims at strengthening other initiatives such as the Barcelona process, the Middle East peace process, WEU and OSCE Contact Group.
Its goals remain however not well defined. It is unclear whether its main purpose is simply to conduct a dialogue or whether it seeks to establish in the future defence co-operation with countries of the Southern Mediterranean.
The initiative lacks of strong political support (3) and deterioration of the Arab-Israeli peace process – which has had an effect on the willingness of many Arab countries to engage in a dialogue in which Israel is part – has inhibited any further progress.
Since the th terrorist attacks of the 11th of September 2001, NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue became under increased scrutiny both in the Mediterranean region and beyond. NATO members decided to upgrade political and practical dimensions of the Mediterranean dialogue in May 2002. At the Prague Summit (November 2002), NATO member countries agreed a package of measures which included the following: the extension of NATO training to forces of Mediterranean countries, participation in joint exercises, familiarization with NATO’s doctrine, procedures, language and crisis management, joint exercises for the evacuation of civilian populations, cooperation in military medicine, programs for the development of inter-operability, search and rescue, maritime safety, and peace support operations.
On June 29th 2004, at the Instanbul conference Istanbul, the Mediterranean Dialogue of NATO has been transformed into a true partnership involving the countries of the “broader Middle East”, giving birth to the « enhanced Mediterranean dialogue. » This enhancement will include increased practical cooperation, enhancing of the Dialogue’s political dimension, and support to the process of defense reform, cooperation in the field of border security, achieving interoperability and contributing to the fight against terrorism. In addition, the Istanbul initiative provides for the expansion of bilateral cooperation to the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
__________
Notes:(1) Israel was the first of the seven participants in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue to signed a security agreement with NATO (April 2001). This security agreement provides the framework for the protection of classified information, as defined by all 19 member countries, and is signed by countries that wish to engage in cooperation with NATO. (2) Despite the predominantly bilateral character of the dialogue, there has been an increasing number of multilateral reunions (19+7): 23 October 2001, 9 January 2002, 22 May 2002 and 25 November 2002. (3) i.a. from the United States – which fear an interference with its own implication in the Middle East peace process and NATO enlargement to Eastern Europe – and from southern Mediterranean countries – where some segments in plublic opinion see NATO as an Institution searching for a new enemy, namely Islam.

See also:

Cooperation initiatives in the Mediterranean.