By Robert Collins —
On November 19th and 20th, 2010, NATO held a summit in Lisbon, Portugal, attended by President Obama and other heads of state and government. NATO’s Secretary General launched the summit with an ambitious agenda, with topics including the war in Afghanistan, NATO relations with Russia, and European missile defense. The overarching outcome of the summit was the adoption of a new Strategic Concept, called NATO’s “roadmap” for the next decade, as the alliance seeks to defend its members against modern threats, including ballistic missile attacks and cyber attacks. In addition to collective defense, the Strategic Concept emphasizes NATO’s role in crisis management and the ability of European democracies to join the organization.
In addition to establishing a new strategic direction, NATO and Afghanistan agreed to the goal of transferring security responsibility and control to Afghanistan by the end of 2014. NATO indicated that they would maintain a presence in Afghanistan after 2014 and that, if Afghanistan was not prepared to assume security responsibility in 2014, the deadline could be changed. While the United States has not committed to any deadline, other NATO members have stated that they will withdraw their troops by 2014. Britain will end its combat role by 2015.
In talks between NATO and Russia, President Medvedev of Russia agreed to cooperate with NATO on a missile defense system that would protect Europe. The pact recognizes that Russia can be a valuable ally in thwarting possible attacks from Iran and other regimes. President Medvedev stated that Russia wants to avoid an arms race; however, he also indicated failure by the U.S. Senate to ratify the New Start treaty would be a serious impediment to denuclearization. The summit more broadly marked an opening of dialogue between NATO and Russia, with the two also agreeing to cooperate on terrorism, privacy, drug trafficking and supply routes through Russia to Afghanistan.
Along with other leaders, President Obama declared the summit successful in reenergizing Euro-Atlantic relations and in increasing security in the face of modern threats. NATO leaders agreed to meet again in 2012 in the United States.
Image courtesy of AP