The King calls on NATO leaders to maintain unity in the face of a “more uncertain and dangerous” world | International
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The King on Tuesday called on the allied leaders to maintain unity in the face of a “more uncertain, more complex and more dangerous” world, where old threats merge with new ones and “strategic optimism” has given way to “strategic realism”. ”. Before the leaders attending the NATO summit that opens this Wednesday in Madrid, Felipe VI recalled that “the war has returned to Europe” and that means, beyond the courage and dignity of the Ukrainian people, which he has praised, a “tragic failure for the world”. “Russia’s unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine is a flagrant violation of the territorial integrity of a sovereign state,” said the King, in a speech delivered entirely in English, at the start of the dinner held at the Royal Palace. “No country is oblivious to this war. The same security of Spain and Western Europe also passes through Ukraine. Those of us who believe in democracy, human rights and an open, rules-based international order must unite in support of the Ukrainian people,” he stressed.
At the dinner, held in the gala dining room of the Royal Palace, 60 guests were invited: 14 presidents, 21 prime ministers and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, in addition of 18 companions. The latter, however, has stayed at the summit venue (the Madrid Trade Fair), explaining to the press the agreement between the presidents of Turkey and Finland and the Swedish prime minister that has allowed the entry of the two Nordic countries in the Alliance, after lifting its veto Ankara.
The King and Queen greeted the guests in the Throne Room, where they chatted cordially with the US president, Joe Biden, and his wife Jill -with whom Doña Letizia has visited an association for the fight against cancer and a reception center for Ukrainian refugees—, before moving on to the Hall of Columns and taking a group photo with the guests.
The King stressed that the Royal Palace had never brought together so many Heads of State and Government, although Spain already hosted a NATO summit a quarter of a century ago, in 1997, when there was “strategic optimism” after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Felipe VI has assigned duties to the allied leaders, to whom he has pointed out that the Madrid Summit must provide “the necessary conviction, guidance and instruments” to adapt to the new reality, not only with the approval of the new Strategic Concept, the NATO’s roadmap for the next decade, but rather a set of instruments to strengthen its deterrence and defense capacity, consolidate the strength of its societies, maintain its technological advantage, prepare for the impact of climate change and equip the Alliance of the “necessary resources”. “Unity has been the key to NATO’s success throughout its history and is a fundamental value today. […] Nowhere will this be more evident than at this summit.”
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The dinner at the Royal Palace was the prelude to the summit that will take place in the Spanish capital for two days. Once the Turkish veto has been overcome, NATO will formally invite Sweden and Finland to join the organization, a process that will take several months, as it must be ratified by the Parliaments of the 30 member countries.
The enlargement of NATO, which will double its kilometers of land border with Russia, going from 1,300 to 2,600, will be one of the highlights of the Madrid summit, but not the only one. It is expected that the Atlantic Council, meeting at the level of heads of state and government, will give the green light to the Madrid Strategic Concept, which will replace the Lisbon one, approved in 2010, and will make Russia, then seen as a partner, the main threat for the security of the Allies. China will not appear on the same level, but as a rival and challenger, and the Sahel as the epicenter of jihadist terrorism, after its retreat in Syria and Iraq. For the first time, the defense of the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of the Alliance countries will be included among NATO missions, which for Spain reinforces the protection of Ceuta and Melilla, excluded from the area defined by the Washington Treaty . And there will also be a special focus on hybrid threats, from disinformation to cyber attacks, including the use of illegal immigration and energy supplies as political weapons.
NATO will approve a notable reinforcement of its deployment in Eastern Europe, converting into brigades (about 3,500 troops each) the eight combat groups (about 1,200 soldiers) deployed in the closest allies to Russia (the three Baltics, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania). And it will raise its reaction force to 300,000 troops, which will force it to improve the training, enlistment and equipment of a large part of the allied armies, substantially increasing defense budgets.
The Heads of State and Government will launch the innovation fund, a hotbed of new technologies initially endowed with 1,000 million dollars; and they will hold a meeting with the four Asia-Pacific partners (Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand), with whom they will discuss “global challenges,” a euphemism for China. For their part, the NATO foreign ministers will share dinner with their counterparts from Jordan and Mauritania, in an attempt to make NATO a reality at 360 degrees, pending threats from anywhere, not just from the East. It will be difficult, however, for any other issue not to be overshadowed by the war in Ukraine. Although it is not planned that President Volodímir Zelenski will attend Madrid, he will intervene by videoconference; and he will demand more help and military support with heavy weapons, a demand to which the allies will have to respond.
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