RUSI involved in preparing NATO's Bucharest Summit

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The address of His Excellency Mr Teodor Melescanu, Defence Minister of Romania, to RUSI on the 15th November 2007 launched the European Security and Transatlantic Programmes’ coverage of NATO issues in the run-up to the next NATO Heads of State and Government summit in Bucharest in April 2008. 

Project Focus

With the mission in Afghanistan an imperative on the agenda of operational concerns in the United Kingdom and amongst Allies, discussions are also ongoing within NATO surrounding the development of a Comprehensive Approach which aims to improve civil-military relations and working practices with international & civilian bodies dedicated to reconstruction and development.

Meanwhile, the question of France’s closer relations to NATO and a potential return to the integrated military structure draws much current attention as the possible linchpin to a badly needed breakthrough in NATO – EU relations.

Debates abound in the current strategic environment in terms of security and NATO enlargement in the Balkans, Missile Defence, NATO’s Memorandum of Understanding with the UN, as well as with its various partnership programmes (Med dialogue, ICI, EACP, etc) - yet their place on the Agenda for Bucharest will depend on the appetite amongst Allies to tackle these in turn and according to national timelines set outside the organisation.

Finally, the year ahead is one that is most apt in terms of determining how the Alliance will see itself transformed and strengthened prior to its 60th anniversary in 2009.

Conference Programme

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As part of a three-conference programme ahead of the next NATO summit in Bucharest, the Royal United Services Institute will hold a series of preparatory seminars in Romania between January and March 2008.


The conferences will be organised in partnership with the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as with a number of Romanian partners.

Regional Security, Energy Security and NATO: Future Problems and Possibilities


The opening seminar of our Bucharest Conference series proposes to discuss the need for the Alliance to develop a comprehensive plan to address the energy security requirements of its member states.


Increased competition amongst states for limited natural resources, a resurgent authoritarian Russia that utilizes energy resources as a political weapon, and the varying national interests at stake among NATO allies and their energy requirements means that NATO must address the issue of energy security sooner, rather than later.


The discussion will seek to identify what practical steps the Alliance can take in terms of addressing the security aspects of energy politics.


From Comprehensive Approach to Strategic Concept: Lessons from Afghanistan


The challenges NATO faces in Afghanistan are not solely the result of the mission, but are also symptomatic of the structural issues prevailing within the Alliance. Coordination between all 26 member states is difficult enough when they are in agreement; it is practically impossible when each country defines the mission differently and operates under unique national guidelines.


The types of missions that the Alliance has engaged in over the past decade are indicative of its core future tasks, and Alliance shortcomings in coordination must be addressed. While it is of primary importance that the Alliance succeeds in Afghanistan, the organisation also needs to develop lessons learned as a template for future engagements.


The seminar will provide an opportunity to address a number of questions surrounding the Comprehensive Approach, NATO’s relations with international organizations in Afghanistan, operational concerns and finally a review of how Afghanistan impacts on the future of the Alliance.


NATO’s contribution to the Balkans stability


NATO’s involvement in the Balkans will certainly be a key item on the agenda for the 2008 summit in Bucharest. Of significance, will be the question of Kosovo’s final status and whether or not NATO countries could be faced with the repercussions of a possible unilateral declaration of independence from Kosovo after the 10 December 2007. Dealing with the implications of such a bid for independence, its potential to cause political turmoil, as well as monitoring the reactions of Serbia and other actors in the region each constitute hot topics for discussion.


The wider question of the Balkans’ integration within Euro-Atlantic institutions is one that has been addressed at each major NATO summit in recent years. With Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia already hoping to be formally invited to join NATO in Bucharest, the accession in 2007 of Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Partnership for Peace programme may well attract further encouragements.


The Balkans have provided perhaps the most relevant framework for NATO - European Union relations, with both organisations sharing a strategic interest in furthering political, economic and social stability in the region. The success of various military & policing ESDP missions, themselves following-on from NATO operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, FYROM and Kosovo, seems to have established a pattern for transition in peacekeeping terms which offers many valuable lessons. The mechanisms for such cooperation are still fraught with difficulties however, and could yet benefit from renewed efforts on both parties.


The seminar will provide an opportunity to discuss NATO’s geostrategic interests on Eastern and Southern parts of Europe. Understanding how far NATO can be encouraged to further stability and security in the Black Sea region and the Western Balkans, as well as define its relations to its Eastern neighbours will be of particular relevance in Bucharest.

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