Partnerships with Gulf, Arab states have improved regional security: NATO official

Brussels: The close partnerships between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Arab countries have contributed to an improved regional security, a senior official of the alliance has said.

As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the [Istanbul Cooperation Initiative] ICI and the 25th anniversary of the [Mediterranean Dialogue] MD, I noted that NATO’s partnerships have allowed us to progressively enhance our political dialogue and practical cooperation, Alejandro Alvargonzalez, NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Security Policy said.

“This has contributed to improve regional security to the benefit of all countries involved,” he said at a luncheon hosted by Kuwait’s Ambassador to NATO Jasem Al Budaiwi Brussels-based Arab Ambassadors, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported.

Alvargonzalez highlighted the importance of cooperative security for NATO, which is one of its main three core tasks along with collective defense and crisis management.

NATO launched the Mediterranean Dialogue in December 1994 with countries in North Africa and Eastern Mediterranean. It currently involves seven non-NATO countries.

The Mediterranean Dialogue’s overall aim is to contribute towards regional security and stability through stronger practical cooperation, including by enhancing the existing political dialogue, achieving interoperability, developing defence reform and contributing to the fight against terrorism.

It also seeks to achieve better mutual understanding and dispel any misconceptions about NATO among Dialogue countries.

The ICI, launched at the NATO summit in Istanbul in June 2004, aims to contribute to long-term global and regional security by offering Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries practical bilateral security cooperation with NATO.

Kuwait joined the ICI in December 2004, followed by Bahrain and Qatar in February 2005 and the UAE in June 2005.

The ICI has since developed both in the political and in the practical dimensions.

The political dialogue has evolved to include high-level meetings while the practical dimension was progressively enhanced through the opening of new partnership tools and activities as well as through the contribution of these countries to NATO-led operations.

NATO officials have often lauded the progress of their partnership with the ICI and stressed their commitment to bolstering them.

In his speech, Alvargonzalez singled out Kuwait’s positive and active role in the ICI Partnership, in particular as the generous host of the NATO ICI Regional Center.

“The center has been instrumental since its inception in enhancing our practical and political cooperation with all NATO’s partner countries in the Arabian Gulf,” he was quoted as saying.

Source: Bahrain News Agency