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12.11.2009 19:54
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International Panel Discusses NATO New Strategic Concept

Ljubljana, 12 November (STA) - Ahead of a seminar on NATO's new strategic concept, which Slovenia will host on Friday, Defence Minister Ljubica Jelusic and Jamie Shea, the director of policy planning at NATO headquarters, addressed an expert panel in Ljubljana on Thursday. The debate focused on NATO's role in Afghanistan and the Balkans and its ties with Russia.

According to Shea, NATO needs a new strategic concept for the 21st century which should be formed by all 28 member states.

In 1999, when the current concept was formed, NATO had only 19 members and operated mainly in Europe, while today it operates on a global level, he explained.

Shea also pointed to new security challenges like terrorism, internet crime and piracy. NATO, whose main activity today are missions, should in the future focus also on prevention of these threats.

Jelusic meanwhile said that Slovenia had great expectations of NATO's new strategic concept, especially regarding joint defence and in the continuation of military transformation.

Slovenia also expects that the strategic partnership "with countries which are important for the international community and for our political economic relations" would continue, including with Russia, the minister stressed.

Jelusic also noted that the process of NATO enlargement should continue and that the alliance should adopt a comprehensive approach to missions which would combine military and civilian efforts.

Regarding NATO's role in the Balkans, a NATO expert group member Giancarlo Aragona said that the alliance would continue its operations there, but noted that its role should be adjusted to the "new reality".

Jelusic underlined that it was important for NATO to have a vision of a membership for Balkan countries.

Commenting on the relations with Russia, Shea noted that history should not be analysed and that areas of common interests should be highlighted instead.

The debate heated up when NATO's presence in Afghanistan was discussed. University professor from Denmark, Sten Rynning, noted that NATO lacked a strategy and was pushing the mission, which is becoming increasingly dominated by the US, in the wrong direction.

Head of the Slovenian Euro-Atlantic Council, Anton Bebler, moreover questioned NATO's presence in the country which in his words did not pose a threat to any of the NATO members.

A group of students of the Faculty of Social Sciences, which hosted the debate, expressed their disapproval of the alliance by breaking into meeting holding up anti-NATO posters. They argued that the university was no place for the "militaristic propaganda".

12.11.2009 19:54

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